The eighth Kashish Film Festival strives to open minds to diversity
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The eighth Kashish Film Festival strives to open minds to diversity

The eighth edition of Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival aims to explore the diversirty of LGBTQI communities.

art and culture Updated: Jul 04, 2017 16:29 IST
Kaushani Banerjee
Kaushani Banerjee
Hindustan Times
Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival,LGBTQI,Signature Move
A still from Signature Move, which is the opening movie of the festival.(HT Photo)

The annual Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is back with its eighth edition. The festival quintessentially addresses a growing need to tell LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Intersex) stories and link the community with the city.
The theme chosen this year by the festival’s organisers is diversity. Festival director Sridhar Rangayan explains, “While the quality of the films was an important factor, we’ve tried to look into the kind of diversity we could have included into our programming. This year, we’ve ensured that the films speak of our theme. Therefore, we’ve tried to include the various communities that comprise LGBTQI; the diversity of ethnicity in terms of other cultures and the diversity of abilities — as in people who are differently abled, and how being queer affects one’s life.” The festival will be held from May 24 to May 28, and the movies will be screened at Liberty Cinema, Marine Lines, and Alliance Francaise, New Marine Lines.

A still from the movie, Loev. (HT Photo)

In a first, the festival has managed to crowdsource `3 lakhs. Rangayan also shares that this is the first time the organisers received 1,200 film submissions, out of which 147 films will be screened. “We have been able to shortlist not just short films, but feature-length films as well; the longest of which runs for 122 minutes. Movies from around 45 countries will be screened at the event,” adds Rangayan. The four-day event will kick off with a movie titled Signature Move, starring veteran actor Shabana Azmi and American-Pakistani actor Fawzia Mirza. The film tells the story of Zaynab, an American Muslim lesbian, who hides her sexuality from her conservative mother, Parveen.

The festival this year has increased its cash reward for film-makers. “The stakes are higher, because the competition has a cash prize of `2.25 lakhs. In fact, last year’s winner from Chennai, V Ramanathan, who won the Q award of `1 lakh, will be showcasing his short film Normalcy, which he co-produced with Kashish. We are happy to be able to support new film-making talents. We are excited to show the first production of Kashish,” says Rangayan.

  • Movie: Signature MoveDirector: Jennifer ReederVenue: Liberty Cinema Date: May 24 Time: 9.30pm
  • Movie: White NightsDirector: Razi MuhammedVenue: Liberty Cinema Date: May 25 Time: 7.35pm
  • Movie: Chronicles of Hari (Harikatha Prasangal)Director: Ananya Kasarvalli Venue: Liberty CinemaDate: May 26 Time: 7.35pm
  • Movie: Play the DevilDirector: Maria GovanVenue: Liberty Cinema Date: May 27Time: 10:45pm
  • Movie: LoevDirector: Sudhanshu SariaVenue: Liberty CinemaDate: May 28 Time: 9.30pm

Apart from the film screenings, Kashish will also include a host of other activities. Rangayan calls this as a “complete cultural experience”. “We are having a performance of Vagina Monologues, and for the first time, they will include two smaller stories: one about a transgender and one about a lesbian. These will be performed by Mona Ambegaonkar and Gazal Dhaliwal,” he says.

Besides Eve Ensler’s iconic play, Kashish will also showcase National Award-winning director Onir’s video poetry series, which is a presentation of his poems. There will also be the trailer launch of a film called Evening Shadows, followed by a panel discussion titled Pride and Prejudice, which aims to talk about LGBTQI inclusion in media and corporate culture. When asked about the change in content over the years, Rangayan says, “The audience’s taste has matured. Gone are the times when they wanted romantic comedies and light stories. They now crave a more nuanced and edgier kind of film-making. They want to see films from diverse cultures. We don’t want to see films from USA or UK. So this year, we’ve tried to include countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, Kosovo, Israel and UAE.”

A still from the movie, White Nights. (HT Photo)

But the festival director also rues the lack of appropriate film representation of the LGBTQI community. While this year, the opening film is a Shabana Azmi starrer and includes the south Asian perspective, last year, the festival had to screen the Oscar-winning film Carol (2015) as its opening film for its audience. “We are opening and closing the festival with south Asian content, and we want this to happen every year. Most Indian film-makers shy away from premiering at Kashish Film Festival because they don’t want the LGBTQI tag. That needs to go away. We are happy that Signature Move decided to open with us. While Shabana Azmi will not be present due to a busy shooting schedule, we will have Fawzia Mirza, the lead actor of the film with us on the opening night,” says Rangayan.

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First Published: May 22, 2017 14:38 IST