Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Kashish" Mumbai International Queer Film Festival to showcase more than 124 films from 23 countries..

To be held from May 25 - 29, 2011, India's only mainstream LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) film festival - The Kashish Queer Film Festival is going to bigger and better this year, promises Sridhar Rangayan, festival director as more than 124 films from 23 countries are being showcased this year, with screenings scheduled at an Andheri multiplex and Alliance Fran├žaise. The jury this year comprises filmmaker Sai Paranjpye, actors Samir Soni and Shernaz Patel, film critic Khalid Mohammad, and international festival director John Badalu from Indonesia.

"It is a great platform to uphold human rights and dignity for all which is what I strongly believe in. Kashish is a celebration of the equality of all human emotions irrespective of sex, creed, race and culture. It also gives an opportunity to young budding filmmakers to present their talents, especially in India, where there is a lack of a platform for showcasing independent films," said Celina Jaitley, who is the brand ambassador for Kashish.

Reputed Filmmaker Shyam Benegal feels that all minorities in this country need representation and sexual minorities is one of them. “Kashish is a move in the right direction to create awareness through the medium of films. It is a step forward in the gay movement."

"To encourage larger participation, we have ensured that delegate registrations and entry to the festival are kept free for all Kashish film festival lovers, but everyone has to pre-register by filling out a form and getting a delegate card," Vivek Anand, festival director, said. "We had long queues for the festival last year," say the organizers, adding, "While 'housefull' placards are nice to look at, it feels sad to turn away cinema lovers. This year, the festival is also scheduled to be screened at a commercial multiplex. These are short, entertaining films, which one could catch during a coffee break from work. We also have late night shows."
                 
Panel discussions with celebrities and media professionals are part of the festival. A jury will adjudge the best Indian queer short film entry and the winner will qualify to compete for the 25,000 Pounds Iris Prize in the UK. UK filmmaker Georgette Okey returns this year to Kashish with her second short film “Matchmaker” to be screened in the competition section, a story that drop-kicks into the world of football fan culture, gay transvestites and the enduring power of friendship. Her first film, Ginger Gora and the Gentles played at the festival last year. "I'm thirsty to see Indian queer cinema," says Okey. "It's refreshing to see new gay independent cinematic voices emerging. I'm looking forward to seeing an eclectic mix of styles and stories," she adds.

This year, the 'country focus' will be on Israel, with more than eight films from the country showing at the festival. A special package on 'anti-bullying' and 'gay bashing' films, followed by a panel discussion, has also been planned.

"We have received immense support from sponsors this year," says Rangayan. "There has been corporate involvement, with banks and business houses taking the festival to a different level." Interestingly, a survey commissioned by Kashish last year showed that 78% of people who came to watch the films were heterosexual. A special set of sensitive, dramatic and touching features and short films on HIV/AIDS are being introduced under the 'Red Ribbon' package, presented by UNAIDS and UNDP. "Kashish is set to be how festivals should be-enjoyable and entertaining, while you take back a message when you leave," says Rangayan.

Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival will be showcased from 25-29 May at Cinemax, Versova and 26-28 May at Alliance Francaise. Entry free upon registration. For more details, log on to www.mumbaiqueerfest.com



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