Bigger, Bolder, Queerer

The biggest queer film festival in India returns for its third and grandest edition next week. Kashish Mumbai International Queer Festival, 2012, will feature more films than ever before — 120 films from more than 30 countries, out of which nearly 23 will be feature length.

A still from Man Hunt


This year, the festival is getting more inclusive. Kashish 2012’s tagline is ‘For Everyone’ as the festival aspires to mainstream queer visibility. According to filmmaker and festival director Sridhar Rangayan, “One of the constant questions that we still get is — who are these gay and lesbian people we hear a lot in the media these days, what they look like, what do they do? Are they interested only in sex, are they only activists? The films at Kashish answer many of these questions — that gay and lesbian persons are just like anyone else, as ‘normal’ as anyone living in your own house or working in
your office.”

This year, Kashish will try to bridge the divide between queers and non-queers attending the festival as they deal with themes that relate to the families and friends of queer people. Forty of the films will be from first-time filmmakers, both from India and abroad. Rangayan picks a few of his favourites from the extensive line-up of films this year, “Men To Kiss (Germany) about a earnest banker and his bubbly flamboyant lover is a rom com, The Last Round (Chile/ Argentina) is about a successful macho boxer and a quiet shy kitchen assistant. It is an extremely sensitive drama. A film that pushes the boundaries of queer culture is Jake Yugna’s multiple award winning film Open (USA), a visually striking and emotionally tender tableau of humanity’s progress at the dawn of the new millennium, where a pandrogynous couple are undergoing surgeries to become unified as one being.”

The collection of short films this year is also a diverse mix as filmmakers play around not just with characters and settings but also narrative forms,” says Rangayan. There is also a film shot like an advertisement for electronic gadget that provides pleasure (Ms Thing), cyber love (Plug & Play), and super-funny musicals (Handyman and Ketheron’s Bucket-Mending & Hymen Emporium),” he adds.

Kashish is well on course to become the paradigm for film festivals in India as it begins to emerge as a springboard for new talent, as new directors and new films are waiting to be discovered by the roving eyes of the international film community. However, Rangayan thinks that Kashish’s potential as a film festival is far greater. He says “In 2010, 27 per cent (of audience members) identified themselves as non-queer and this figure rose to 34 per cent in 2011. In 2012, we hope to make it an equally participative event for both queer and non-queer persons.”

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