Brazilian film Gloria and Grace directed by Flávio R. Tambellini won the Best Narrative Feature Film Award at the awards ceremony of 8th edition of South Asia’s biggest LGBTQ film festival – KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival on Sunday May 28, 2017. British Actor Petrice Jones won the award for Best Performance in a Lead Role for the Trinidadian film Play The Devil. Maacher Jhol – a hand-drawn 2D animation film in Hindi directed by Abhishek Verma won the Best Indian Short Narrative film Award. Malayalam film Naked Wheels directed by Rajesh James won two awards K F Patil Unity in Diversity Best Documentary Short Film Award and the Riyad Wadia Award for Best Emerging Indian Filmmaker. The latter award was shared with Vishal Srivastava for his film Wajood. The QDrishti Film Grant – that gives a filmmaker a Rs 1 lakh grant to make their next LGBTQ film – was won by Debadrita Bose for her Bengali film Shehenaiiya. The Best Student Short Film Award was won by the American film Still Devout directed by Melissa Perez.
National Award winning filmmaker Onir, actors Swara Bhaskar and Jim Sharb presented the awards to the winners. The main jury this year comprised of screen writer Anjum Rajabali, actor Lubna Salim, film editor Jabeen Merchant, TV producer Vinta Nanda and writer Aseem Chhabra. The additional jury was Roy Wadia of Wadia Movietone. Cash prizes of Rs 2.25 lakh – the largest cash prize in an LGBTQ film festival in South Asia – was given to the winners. The awards were sponsored by Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepares, K F Patil Charitable Trust, Whistling Woods International, Wadia Movietone and Lotus Visual.
“It is an exhilarating feeling to be able to wrap up a very successful edition of KASHISH film festival,” said Sridhar Rangayan, festival director. “KASHISH is not just a film festival, but a cultural movement that aims to bring marginalised voices into mainstream spaces. And, what better way to do it than through the medium of films.
“I come to KASHISH every year and it’s home for me,” said Onir, who spoke about his upcoming film Shab, starring Raveena Tandon and Ashish Bisht. Actor Swara Bhaskar made a strong pitch for equal rights. “One doesn’t have to belong to the LGBTQ community, to empathise with their concerns and fight for equal rights,” said actor Swara Bhaskar. “A festival like this in the city of Mumbai is amazing,” said actor Jim Sharb.
The closing and awards ceremony saw performances by singer Jason Arland, Dancing Queens – India’s first transgender-led dance troupe and Rainbow Voices – India’s first and only gay choir group. The show stopper performance was by singer Sona Mohapatra, who brought the house down with her popular numbers. The jugal bandi between Sona and dancer Sanjukta Wagh electrified the Liberty Cinema stage.
The festival that was held over five days from May 24-28, 2017 at two venues in South Mumbai – Liberty Cinema and Alliance Francaise, screened 147 films from 45 countries. Skybags and Godrej Industries were Principal Partners of the festival. IBM, Whistling Woods International and the Canada Consul General were Supporting Partners.
“We are so very proud to partner the 8th KASHISH festival. Movies are one of the best mediums to tell stories, touch hearts and open our minds. We at Godrej believe that we are all equal and building a diverse and inclusive workforce is of utmost importance to us. We love and support the LGBTQ community not just because it is the right thing to do. Great talent is the key to our success and our individual capabilities are only determined by our attitude and hard work not by our gender, caste or sexuality,” said Nisaba Godrej, Executive Chairperson, Godrej Consumer Products Ltd.
Commenting on the association, Radhika Piramal, Vice Chairperson – V.I.P Industries Ltd had said, “We are happy to associate with KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival; it’s a great initiative that spreads much needed awareness about the LGBT community. Films are a powerful medium to influence and bring about a positive change in the society. We are happy to lend our support to this initiative as it not just a festival but it’s a place to learn and become more aware. As an out lesbian, I am proud to be part of the LGBT community in India and support greater visibility of our community through this important film festival.”
The opening film was Signature Move, directed by Jennifer Reed and starring Shabana Azmi. Acclaimed Indian gay road drama LOEV directed by Sudhanshu Saria and starring Shiv Pandit and Siddharth Menon was the closing film.