The SC verdict may have been a setback to LGBTIQ rights in India, but it did nothing to dampen the spirit of Kashish, the annual International Queer Film Festival held in Mumbai. It started with the opening night gala on May 21, 2014 at Liberty Cinema, Mumbai. Now in its fifth year, Kashish MIQFF plans to screen a collection of 154 films from 31 countries at Liberty Cinema and Alliance Française, Mumbai from May 21 to 25, 2014. This year, the ‘Country Focus’ is on Canada and the ‘Filmmaker in Focus’ is Canadian filmmaker Charlie David. The festival theme ‘Dare to Dream’ this year celebrates the movement for equality and respect by the queer community across the world. The festival will also pay tribute to Rituparno Ghosh, the extremely talented Indian director who passed away last year.
The opening night was star-studded as filmmakers, actors, noted members of the community and film lovers showed up. The night was filled with speeches by festival director Sridhar Rangayan and eminent activists such as Pallav Patankar, Shaleen Rakesh, Vivek Anand and others. The audience was entertained by dance performances by Bhavin Gala’s troupe and by Sunil Sunkara and also a short version of the Marathi play “Dushyantapriya”. The ceremonial lighting of lamps was carried out by Arundhati Raje, Dolly Thakore, Meghna Ghai Puri, Roy Wadia and Sridhar Rangayan, who were on the festival advisory board. The programming director Saagar Gupta talked about the amazing variety of films and the number of Asian, world and international premieres. Shibu Thomas, Communications and Operations Director talked about the journey towards bringing the festival to the audience and what it signifies. Pallav Patankar said that after the Supreme Court verdict recriminalizing homosexuality, it was poignant that the festival was held in a cinema called “Liberty”. The festival then took off with the screening of Out in the Dark, an Israeli drama film by Michael Mayer.
A few of the films will be competing against each other for the awards of Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary, Best Documentary Short, Best International Narrative Short, Best Indian Narrative Short, Best Actor and the Riyad Wadia Award for Best Emerging Indian Filmmaker.
The films will be judged by a stellar jury consisting of celebrities who were present and shared their thoughts about being at Kashish: actor and MP Nitish Bharadwaj, filmmaker Onir, costume designer Pia Benegal, actress Avantika Akerkar and Principal Director of Wadia movietone Roy Wadia, as well as actress Sarika. Representatives of a number of sponsors also connected the dots between supporting Kashish and making the Indian corporate workspace more diverse and inclusive.
For KASHISH film festival schedule (May 21-215, 2014), delegate registration information and to contribute, please visit the KASHISH website.