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LGBTQ festival begins

Friday, May 25, 2018

Kashish 2018, South Asia's biggest LGBTQ film festival, is showcasing 140 films from 45 countries

On May 23, the Liberty Carnival Cinema at Marine Lines was buzzing. It was the inaugural event of the ninth KashishMumbai International Queer Film Festival and hundreds of Mumbai’s vibrant LGBTQ community members and their supporters had turned up more than two hours before it was to start. Bemused onlookers stuck their faces to the gate to catch a glimpse of the people who had arrived, some of them in brightly coloured sarees and high heels, at least one of them sporting a beard. Inside, as performers like comedian Navin Noronha and the dance troupe Color Positive regaled a packed hall, the cheers and whistles were exhilarating. This was a place where people truly felt free and reveled in their uniqueness.

The festival, inaugurated by Nadir Godrej, Managing Director of Godrej Industries and Radhika Piramal, Vice Chairperson and Executive Director of VIP Industries, features as many as 140 films from 45 countries, including 33 Indian LGBTQ films. Forty-seven films will compete for cash prizes to the tune of `2.65 lakh. Several films that portray the relationships of LGBTQ children with their parents and families offer a perspective into family bonding in different cultures.

The Jury this year comprises actors Tara Deshpande, Jayati Bhatia and Sid Makkar, National Award winning filmmakers Ramchandra PN, Batul Mukhtiar, documentary filmmaker Malati Rao, National Award winning editor Irene Dhar Malik, academician Jeroo Mulla, and activist Harish Iyer.

The festival, which goes on till May 27, is being held at two venues in South Mumbai—Liberty Carnival Cinemas and Metro INOX. On the opening day, the award-winning French film Beats Per Minute directed by Robin Campillo was screened. The closing film is the acclaimed Indian film Evening Shadows directed by Sridhar Rangayan.

Speaking on the occasion, Nadir Godrej said: "Being a poet myself, I can tell you that any creative form—poetry, writing, or film—is the best way to bring about social change; stories can touch hearts and open our minds in ways that no amount of numbers can!”

Radhika Piramal, Vice-Chairperson, VIP Industries, said: “We are proud to continue our association with Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival for the third year. Kashish is a wonderful initiative that encourages aspiring filmmakers to come forward and spread awareness about the LGBT community, sensitively and artistically.”

Sridhar Rangayan, Festival Director, remarked: “We have moved beyond asking for acceptance, to now seeking equal rights for everyone to live with dignity. So many companies and individuals joining hands underline everyone's belief in reinstating these rights.”

The festival theme this year is 'Together, With Pride', and it celebrates “pride and the infinite diversities of families, communities, gender, sex, ethnicity and body types,” say the organisers. They add: “The fight for equal rights and societal acceptance is also a fight against discrimination of any sort, and equal rights can be only achieved when all of us—LGBTIQ and Allies—come together with pride to celebrate being ourselves.”

Several Indian companies have come together this year to support the festival—Skybags, Godrej, Wishberry, The Lalit group of hotels and Delta apps are all homegrown companies who are proponents of equal rights. The other partners are IBM, Consulate General of Canada and Bureau du Quebec a Mumbai.

The festival will hand out cash prizes of `2.65 lakhs in eight film categories and for the best poster design. The awards are sponsored by Anupam Kher's Actor Prepares, Whistling Woods, Lotus Visual, K F Patil Charitable Trust, Wadia Movietone, fashion designer Wendell Rodricks and Kashish Arts Foundation.

Voted as one of the Top 5 LGBT Film Festivals in the world, Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is South Asia’s biggest queer film festival and the only LGBT film festival in India to be held in a mainstream theatre.

Founded in 2010, it is presented by Kashish Arts Foundation and organised by Solaris Pictures.

Besides the annual film festival its other initiatives are Kashish Forward – India’s first travelling campus LGBTQ film festival, Kashish Global, which facilitates screening of Indian LGBTQ films across the world, Best of Kashishfilm screenings and Kashish Chalchitra Utsav—a festival of LGBTQ films in regional languages.

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