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Kashish International Queer Film Festival scores its highest, here’s how!

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MUMBAI: Society’s acceptance is expanding to acceptance of new ideas, cultures and beliefs. The twenty first century is about moving forward with acceptance to new change, and as media is a mirror for and of society, everything is reflected on movie screen. With article 377 and awareness and acceptance for LGBTQ community at large today, films have also expanded their base to cover this topic.

National Award Winner Sridhar Rangayan has rolled out the seventh annual edition of Kashish International Queer Film festival in Mumbai. The festival will launch between 25 May 25 and 29 May at three different venues: Liberty Theatre, Alliance Francaise de Bombay and Max Muller Bhavan. The theme of the festival remains ‘Seven Shades of Love’.

This is one of the most significant festivals screening films themed around the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community. Kashish International Queer Film Festival has been promoting such films even at international platforms and has been celebrating LGBT cinema in Mumbai via the festival.

This year the festival will screen the highest number of films – 182 from 53 countries. In the 2015 edition of the festival, the number was 180 films from 44 countries.  There are 27 Indian films in Tamil, Kannada, Telegu and Hindi, to be screened in the festival. The festival has films ranging between a time duration of 12 minutes to 112 minutes. Feature films, documentaries and short films are on the list. About 50 films concern women and transgender.

Festival director Sridhar Rangayan said, “We are delighted that the quality of filmmaking around LGBTQ issues in India has gathered quite a lot of momentum in recent years. This year we received more than 60 Indian film submissions, out of which we are screening 27 films, which have been shortlisted both for their narrative strength as well as their technical finesse. Four of them are co-productions and two of them are national award winners. So it is a good time for Indian LGBTQ cinema”

The festival will open with the UK/USA feature film Carol, directed by Todd Haynes. Carol is a love story of the 1950s in New York between two young women. The cast includes Cate Blanchett and Roony Mara. The movie will be screened at Liberty Cinema on May 25.

This year, the highlight films are Aligarh directed by Hansal Mehta, I am Not HE SHE directed by B.S. Lingadevaru, who also has another film in the festival  - The Threshold. Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh is also been looked forward to. Other awaited screenings are- Reaching for the Moon directed by Bruno Barreto, Oriented directed by Jake Witzenfeld and Tab Hunter Confidential directed by Jeffrey Schwarz.

The festival finale will be the screening of the US award winning film Those people directed by Joey Kuhn. The film is story of young gay artist and his struggles.  

Kashish International Queer Film Festival is associated with Wishberry as title sponsor. Other supporters are IBM as associate sponsor. Godrej, Whistling Woods and Canada are supporting sponsors. There are other festival sponsors like Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepares, Wadia Movietime, Wendell Rodricks, Lotus Unusual and Accord Equips as award partners amongst others.

The festival also has a film competition for young film makers, wherein 41 films will be competing this year. The films will be judged on the quality of filmmaking, narration and uplifting of LGBTQ community. Explaining, director of programming Kashish International Queer Film Festival Saagar Gupta said “Films in the competition are shortlisted on the basis of novelty of ideas or engaging storytelling or technical brilliance or all of these. Special attention is given to those dealing with issues faced by LGBTQ youth in a positive, uplifting manner; or act as a catalyst for a discussion; and also reiterate this year’s theme – 7 Shades Of Love”.

The categories of awards include Best Narrative Feature, for which four films will be competing. The winner will be awarded with a trophy and a cash prize of Rs 30,000, sponsored by Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepares. Actor Prepares is also sponsoring another category i.e. Best Performance in the Lead Role with a cash prize of Rs 20,000.

Other categories include Best Documentary Feature; three films will be competing for this award. The International Narrative Short category has 23 competitors. Both carry a trophy and a gift hamper as awards. Six films will compete for Best Documentary Short. This category will award winners with a trophy and a HD Shooting Kit comprising of camera, mike and light; sponsored by Accord Equips. Best Indian Narrative Short is also sponsored by Actor Prepares, where two films will be competing. The winner will receive a trophy and a cash price of Rs 20,000.

The Final Award is the Riyad Wadia Award for best emerging Indian Film Makers. The award carries a cash price of Rs 15000 and is sponsored by Wadia Movietime and a HD shooting kit sponsored by Accord Equips.  There are five films competing for the award.

These films will be judged by National Award winner Rajeshwari Sachdev, TV actor Manav Gill, director Paravathi Balagopalan, theatre director Kaizaad Kotwal, international festival director Andrea Kuhn and Kashish International Queer Film Festival Sridhar Rangayan.  

“The quality of the films in the competition this year is a testimony to the diversity of narrative styles as well as technical and aesthetic brilliance of filmmaking. They are not just LGBTQ films, but films that have a new storytelling edge to them. Every year Kashish tries to raise the bar, and this year the films in competition in seven categories are definitely world-class.” added Rangayan.

Kashish, each year, focuses on one country with the title country in focus. Brazil is the chosen country for this year’s edition. The management explained the reason for choosing Brazil as a country of focus was because of its legalization of same sex marriages. Brazil will also be hosting Olympics this year. 11 films from Brazil will be screened in the festival.

The opening night of the festival will be launched by chief guest and British actor Sir Ian Mckellen and Sonam Kapoor as Guest of Honor at the Liberty Cinema, Mumbai. Other dignitaries likely to attend the event include Kiran Rao, Kunal Kapoor, Sona Mohapatra, Nisa Godrej, Rajeshwari Sachdev, Manav Gohil along with Sridhar Rangayan.

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