Festival Director Sridhar Rangayan picks 12 films that shouldn’t be missed at the 8th KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival
The 8th KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, to be held May 24-28, 2017 at Liberty Cinema and Alliance Francaise de Bombay, brings together 147 films from 45 Countries, living upto its reputation as South Asia’s biggest LGBTQ film festival.
Sridhar Rangayan, founder and festival director of KASHISH, picks 12 must watch films from the wide array of Indian and global LGBTQ films.
“Choosing 12 films from 147 wonderful films that we are screening at this year’s KASHISH is not an easy task. But I have made a selection just to underline the diversity of sexuality, gender, ethnicity and culture that we are showcasing this year under the theme ‘Diverse, One’. The program every day at both venues is packed with great global LGBTQ cinema – features, shorts and documentaries – and yes it would be a tough choice for the audience to figure what to watch, as much as it has been for me to compile this list!” said Sridhar Rangayan.
“We feel it is important not to compartmentalize audiences, so our programs is as mixed as it is diverse. A lesbian themed feature is followed by a documentary about Inuit community in the Arctic, which is followed by a short program about families and maybe ending with a dark gay thriller! So it is a rollercoaster ride everyday for the audience!!”, added Rangayan
Bookings are right now open for the festival at BookMyShow: https://in.bookmyshow.com/festival/mumbai-international-queer-film-festival
1) SIGNATURE MOVE
Director: Jennifer Reeder
82 mins / USA / English / Narrative Feature
Signature Move is the story of Zaynab, an American Muslim lesbian (Fawzia Mirza), who hides two things from her homebound, conservative mother Parveen (Shabana Azmi) : her budding relationship with a Mexican-American woman Alma (Sari Sanchez) and her growing fascination with wrestling! While Parveen, recently widowed, tries to escape her loneliness watching TV soap operas and trying to find the best man to get her daughter married off, Zaynab is searching for her identity in life, love and wrestling.
Sridhar Rangayan’s Note: So many of us can identify with the dilemmas faced by Zaynab trying to tell her conservative mother that she is a lesbian, the challenges of We are delighted to open the festival with this beautifully crafted film that explores the concerns of a woman who finds it difficult to surmount barriers posed by a conservative South Asian family set-up.
Wednesday May 24, 2017 / 8.30pm / Liberty Cinema
2) APRICOT GROVES
Director: Pouria Heidary Oureh
80 mins / Armenia / Armenian with English subtitles / Narrative Feature
Aram, an Iranian Armenian youth who has immigrated to the US in childhood returns to Armenia for the first time to propose to an Armenian girlfriend Aram met and lived n the US. Aram sees many
Aram, an Iranian-Armenian trans man living in the U.S. since childhood, returns to Armenia to meet his girlfriend’s conservative family. Over the course of the day-long journey, Aram’s brother helps him prepare for the meeting, while also coming to terms with Aram’s transition. For Aram, a series of cultural, religious, and national differences unfold as he tries to reconnect with a culture that may not be accepting of who you have become.
Sridhar Rangayan’s Note: Set in Armenia and Iran, two countries where gender identity and sexual orientation that are beyond the hetero-normative can cause a volatile reaction, this journey of a transman is laudable for its simple and candid portrayal. The underlying tension is palpable and as the film moves to a surprising ending, one’s hear is filled with love and compassion.
Thursday May 25, 2017 / 12.30am / Liberty Cinema
3) WHITE NIGHTS (Velutha Rathrikal)
Director: Razi Muhammed
130 mins / India / Malayalam with English subtitles / Narrative Feature
An independent cinematic adaptation of the eponymous novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Manu is an artist in search of a new sky, from his troubled past, in a forest settlement. He meets Chelly, a tribal girl from a nearby settlement who bears the brunt from her own share of life. As she awaits the return of her beloved friend Jyothi. Despite their diverse upbringings, Manu and Chelly strike a serene and beautiful chord with each other. Their brief but intense bonding during the five nights develop into a seemingly inseparable one and Chelly realizes her growing dilemma. She wishes Jyothi were Manu or he was she. She painfully longs for Jyothi not to turn up.
Sridhar Rangayan’s Note: It is one of the most amazing films from India on bisexual love that I have seen, where Chelly, the tribal girl is torn between her love and desire for a woman and a man; finding it difficult to chose between the two as she loves them equally. Very sensitively handled, and beautifully shot.
Thursday May 25, 2017 / 7.35pm / Liberty Cinema
4) TRANSITIONING: TRANSGENDER CHILDREN
Directors: Roser Oliver, Lluís Montserrat
52 mins / Spain / Spanish with English subtitles / Documentary Feature
A poignant exploration of the transition, told through first-hand stories by four young protagonists who have taken this step. Their moving statements shed light on how these people felt, both before and after making the transition, and the difficult process that parents often go through in accepting that change.
Sridhar Rangayan’s Note: This film makes you laugh, cry and go oooh, as we hear young transgender children speaking about their ‘identities’! Big words for small mouths, but these children come out more matured than most adults who are naïve and bigoted. The film makes everyone understand how ‘natural’ is the need to understand and connect with an identity that you believe in, not the one imposed by society.
Friday May 26, 2017 / 2.00pm / Alliance Francaise
5) THE VICTIM
Director: Basil Dearden
101 mins / UK / English / Narrative Feature
A plea for reform of England’s anti-sodomy statutes, this film pits Melville Farr, a married lawyer, against a blackmailer who has photos of Farr and a young queer guy (who is being blackmailed and later commits suicide) in Farr’s car. After the suicide, Farr tracks down other queer men being extorted for money by the same blackmailer. The well-educated police Detective Inspector Harris considers the sodomy law nothing more than an aid to blackmailers, and helps Farr in calling his blackmailer’s bluff. The movie, far ahead of its time, ends with Farr and his wife coming to terms with his own orientation after the public exposure he faces in the blackmailer’s trial.
Sridhar Rangayan’s Note: This film, made in 1961 when homosexuality was still criminalized in UK, it was the first English language film to use the word homosexual. It is wonderful to see non-stereotypical portrayals so early on and Dirk Bogarde, one of Britain’s most revered matinee idol, risked his career to portray a closeted gay lawyer.
Friday May 26, 2017 / 5.00pm / Alliance Francaise
COUNTRY FOCUS: UK
6) CHRONICLES OF HARI (Harikatha Prasangal)
Director: Ananya Kasaravalli
105 mins / India / Kannada with English subtitles / Narrative Feature
Set in a coastal town of southern India ‘Harikatha Prasanga’ narrates the story of a Yakshagana artist Hari who has gained extreme popularity portraying female roles. The story of Hari’s life unfolds through different perspectives captured in three episodes across four audio-visual interviews conducted by filmmakers Sharmila and Sundar, primarily interested in investigating and documenting his whereabouts.
Sridhar Rangayan’s Note: A young filmmaker Ananya Kasaravalli comes of age with this beautifully sketched feature, that follows her documentary short that was screened at KASHISH a few years back. Avoiding any sensationalism, the film unravels the life of a cross-dresser from multiple viewpoints, allowing the audience to take home an unforgettable film.
Friday May 26, 2017 / 7.35pm / Liberty Cinema
CENTERPIECE NARRATIVE FILM
7) ONLY MEN GO TO THE GRAVE
Director: Abdulla Al Kaabi
80mins / UAE / Arabic / Narrative Feature
A blind mother welcomes her estranged daughters to tell them a secret. Unfortunately, she accidentally dies while sharing it. During the funeral, the daughters try to deal with their mother’s sudden death and also work together to unveil her secret by looking for clues from visitors. Throughout the funeral, their own lives continue to unravel, giving room for buried family tensions to gradually surface, while struggling to deal with their own secrets and deep-rooted guilt. The daughters start to question everything about their mother’s life after a peculiar encounter.
Sridhar Rangayan’s Note: A very brave coming from a country like United Arab Emirates, the film deals with both a transgender identity and a same-sex lesbian love story! The story, that is as shrouded and veiled as the characters, slowly unravels to help us understand the desires and demons within an ultra conservative milieu. The film keeps you on the hook till the end!
Thursday May 26, 2017 / 6.45pm / Alliance Francaise
8) PLAY THE DEVIL
Director: Maria Govan
89 mins / Trinidad & Tobago / English / Narrative Feature
Gregory, a gifted working-class teenager from Paramin, stars in a theater play that brings him to the attention of James, an affluent businessman. The two men strike an uncanny friendship as James takes Greg under his wing, pushing him to discover himself professionally, creatively, and intimately. Confused, Greg must at once deal with the return of his drug addicted father, and navigate through the early days of adulthood. As Carnival Monday approaches and the locals prepare for the annual male initiation parade, Greg must confront James – an act which will culminate in life changing events for him.
Sridhar Rangayan’s Note: This is an intriguing film that says more with glances and gestures than words, eloquently laying bare a young man’s dilemma about wanting to choose a life beyond the boundaries of his conservative small town, yet unable to forego his close bonding with his family. It’s a film a lot of us in India can identify with and empathize.
Saturday May 27, 2017 / 10.45 am / Liberty Cinema
Director: Piotr J. Lewandowski
99 mins / Germany / German with English subtitles / Narrative Feature
Jonathan’s responsibilities belie his age, for at 23, his days begin and end with caring for his ailing father, Burghardt, and running the family farm with his aunt, Martha. As time goes by and Burghardt’s condition deteriorates, Martha hires Anka, a nurse who helps take care of him, and with whom Jonathan falls in love. While their relationship flourishes, Burghardt’s emotional distance to his family reveals a devastating secret, one which will come to light with the arrival of Burghardt’s old friend Ron. Having learned the truth, can Jonathan forgive his father?
Sridhar Rangayan’s Note: The film is a captivating film set in a German village, exploring the dilemmas of a young man coming to know of his father’s past. The tenderness of an elderly relationship will haunt one long after leaving the cinema.
Saturday May 27, 2017 / 10.45pm / Liberty Cinema
10) INDIAN MASALA MIX I & II
Indian LGBTQ short films
The usually much awaited package of Indian LGBTQ short films, this year includes an accomplished collection of films that are diverse in their approach and themes. From an animation film to a silent film to films that push the boundaries questioning sex, sexuality and sexual orientation, these films mark the coming-of-age of Indian queer cinema.
Sridhar Rangayan’s Note: This year the Indian LGBTQ film’s standards are very high, both in content and technical finesse, matching upto international standards. Many of the films boast well-known actors like Tanvi Azmi, Sanjay Mishra, Jitin Gulati, etc.
Sunday May 28, 2017 / 12.30 & 4.30pm / Liberty Cinema
11) HANDSOME DEVIL
Director: John Butler
95 mins / Ireland / English / Narrative Feature
Ned is a loner resigned to his status as the school outsider and the constant insinuations about his orientation. Everything changes with the arrival of his new roommate Conor, a star player in the rugby team, and English teacher Dan Sherry whose presence evokes The Dead Poets Society as he asks the boys: “If you spend your whole life being someone else, who is going to be you?”
Sridhar Rangayan’s Note: When we talk about youth, and especially sports, bullying and homophobia cannot be far behind. Coming from a country like Ireland, which has moved from being conservative to liberal about LGBT rights in just over the past decade, the ground realities can still be harsh at times. This coming-of-age drama that ends with a flourish has all the masala for a good entertainer, with a message.
Sunday May 28, 2017 / 2.30pm / Liberty Cinema
CENTERPIECE NARRATIVE FILM
Director: Sudhanshu Saria
92 mins / India / English / Narrative Feature
When hot shot, Wall Street dealmaker Jai thinks of putting some pleasure into his 48 hour business trip to Mumbai, Sahil, his music-producer friend drops everything, including his reckless partner Alex, to help him execute the perfect getaway. Hiking the hills and canyons of Maharashtra, amidst half-attempted conversations and sudden silences, business calls and old jokes, the friends discover there is more than just time-zones keeping them apart. Things take another turn when Alex shows up with his new partner, throwing up old conflicts and bringing unanswered questions to the fore.
Sridhar Rangayan’s Note: This film is a gentle sensitive romantic film that stays close to the love triangle and doesn’t stray into typical Indian family melodrama or coming out angst. Shot and edited beautifully it is a very evocative film that touches your heart and makes you smile, laugh, cry and fall in love with the characters.
Sunday May 28, 2017 / 9.30pm / Liberty Cinema