Cinema scope for equality

Since its inception in 2010, Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival that brings forth cinema dedicated to themes relating to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender), has seen tremendous growth and now in its fourth edition, the festival aims at surpassing it’s past glories. The theme of the festival is ‘Towards Change’ and this year, it is much bigger in scope than any of the previous years.

A still from Call Me Kuchu

There are 132 films from 40 countries that will be highlighting the challenges faced by the LGBT community in countries where homosexuality is criminalised or proscribed by law, religion or state. This year films from countries like Iran, Pakistan, Morocco and UAE will also be screened. China will be the country focus this year as LGBT films from the country prove testimony to the courage of the community, which battles insurmountable odds.

A still from Keep The Lights On

The big stride
“The growth and spread of Kashish has been phenomenal. We are in our fourth year and there are a lot more expectations now. It will be a challenge to ensure that we balance awareness and entertainment to provide a diverse range of programmes for our audiences.

Kashish is no more just a film festival, but an annual cultural experience, and we hope to live up to it,” says Sridhar Rangayan, festival director, adding that Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is the first and only gay and lesbian film festival in India to be held in a mainstream theatre and one of the first queer festivals to receive clearance from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Rangayan also recalls that when they started Kashish, it was very difficult to convince people to come on board to associate themselves with a gay and lesbian film festival. “But when they realised that we are organising it as professionally as would be the case of any other international film festival, where only the subject matter of the films are about LGBT themes, the mental blocks vanished,” he tells us.

Since then, many celebrity filmmakers, actors, media personalities and opinion builders have joined hands with the festival to support equality and dignity for all. Rangayan informs that even the audience now comes to the festival without any fear of stigma or discrimination.

Challenges galore
“What is encouraging is that we see a greater participation by mainstream audiences (32% last year) who came to Kashish to see just good cinema. However, the main challenge is fundraising. Not many corporates or brands still want to come on board and lend their support. There is still hesitation and barriers, which need to be overcome,” he laments.

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