KASHISH 2013 returns to win hearts and march ‘Towards Change’

Aruna Raje, Simone Singh, Quasar ThakorePadamsee, Manavendra Singh Gohil, Roy Wadia, Sridhar Rangayan announce India’s biggest LGBT film fest

Noted filmmaker Aruna Raje, Bollywood actor and model Simone Singh, theatre director Quasar Thakore Padamsee, Manavendra Singh Gohil, Prince of Rajpipla, Roy Wadia of Heroes Project and director of Wadia Movietone and filmmaker and festival director Sridhar Rangayan on Wednesday announced KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film festival 2013. The fourth edition of India’s and South Asia’s biggest queer film fest is scheduled to be held between May 22-26, 2013.

The festival will be held at a Cinemax Versova in Andheri West between May 22-26, 2013 and at Alliance Française de Bombay from May 23-25, 2013. The festival will screen 132 films from 40 countries. 

“For me it’s an opportunity to endorse, encourage not only good cinema but tolerance and acceptance of every kind of human being however human beings categorize themselves,” said filmmaker Aruna Raje, who will also be part of the international jury at KASHISH 2013. “The LGBT community for too long has been marginalised and suffered – Kashish is a vehicle and a right-now opportunity for their inclusion so they have the same freedom and rights everyone on this planet has.Aruna Raje Said, “It’s easy through cinema to open people’s minds and hearts. That’s where KASHISH comes in.”

Simone Singh, who is also part of the jury said: “It is a pleasure to be on the jury of KASHISH. This film festival is a vibrant platform for filmmakers the world over to showcase their work relating to the LGBT community. I look forward to cultural and cinematic diversity of the selected films.’’

Manavendra Singh Gohil, who was the Guest of Honour, emphasised the role played by the festival in giving visibility to the community. “KASHISH is the need of our times when a community gets represented through a performing art in its compendium of varied forms, which becomes an integral part of mainstream society and that is required as an important step away from marginalisation,’’ said the Prince of Rajpipla, who is one of the few out royal family member in the world. “Gay rights cannot only be won in the courtroom but it has to win hearts and minds of the people. Cinema is a powerful medium to achieve that.”

Theatre director Quasar Thakore Padamsee, another member of the KASHISH 2013 jury said: “KASHISH is a unique and important event in the city’s cultural landscape. It is an example of the diversity our city has to offer. The festival has grown by leaps and bounds each year and the films on offer are powerful and sensitive. I am looking forward to serving on the panel and seeing films that ordinarily I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to.’’

The members of the international jury panel for KASHISH 2013 comprise – filmmaker Aruna Raje, actor Simone Singh, theatre director Quasar Thakore Padamsee, author and poet Jerry Pinto and Iris Prize festival director Berwyn Rowlands.

 “The growth and spread of KASHISH has been phenomenal. We are in our fourth year and there are a lot more expectations. It will be a challenge to ensure that we balance awareness and entertainment to provide a diverse range of programs for our audiences. KASHISH is no more just a film festival, but an annual cultural experience, and we hope to live up to it,” said festival director Sridhar Rangayan. “The festival today also received the clearance from the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry, like the last three years and we are grateful for their support,’’ added Rangayan. KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is the first and only gay & 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. The theme of the festival this year is “Towards Change”. 

Saagar Gupta, festival programmer says “This year KASHISH is programming the biggest collection of films and from countries that are very diverse, including countries where making films on LGBT themes is challenging. Also keeping in tune with this year’s themes of ‘Towards Change’ there are several outstanding documentaries to watch out for including VitoUnited in AngerCall Me KuchuHide & SeekInvisible Men,Not A man in Sight and from India …And The Unclaimed. These films showcase stories of struggle, trauma and happiness of LGBT persons across the world”.

“For the third year in a row, Wadia Movietone is thrilled to be associated with Kashish via the RiyadWadia Award,” said Roy Wadia, Director, WadiaMovietone and Special Jury member for KASHISH. “The award honours the memory of my late brother, India’s first openly gay filmmaker who made India’s first gay-themed film, BOMgAY.  Riyad heralded the change that is slowly but surely coming to our country in terms of LGBT rights, as well as the change that is all too slowly being seen in our collective film industry across our nation. Kashish is at the forefront of that change and is doing so much to change minds and hearts among the wider public, and to strengthen and nurture the LGBT community’s own perceptions of itself in terms of dignity and humanity.”

Rowlands, who will be visiting India to be a part of the KASHISH 2013 international jury had this message: “This will be my first trip to India, so I’m looking forward to everything. Meeting local filmmakers, tasting some authentic food and generally understanding more about being LGBT in India. I’ve always believed that we live in a global village where most experiences are shared – but I also like diversity, so I’m hoping to enjoy new experiences during my time at Kashish. I almost forgot, I’m also looking forward to watching lots of films,’’ said Rowlands.

The festival this year also comprises an Advisory Board, which includes Roy Wadia, Executive Director of Heroes Project, the HIV communications and advocacy NGO, NandiniSardesai, Dolly Thakore, MeghnaGhaiPuri, Shernaz Patel, Jenni Olson and David Gere.

Key Highlights for this year will be:

* 132 films, from 40 countries.

* This year, the ‘Country Focus’ will be on China with more than 12 films from there.

* `Filmmaker in Focus’ is US filmmaker and activist Jim Hubbard, who will be travelling to India to be present at KASHISH 2013.

* Queer films from Iran, Serbia, Slovakia, Pakistan and Morocco and will be screened at KASHISH 2013.

* The “competition section’’ will showcase films which will be judged by an eminent international jury Panel.

* The international jury comprises filmmaker ArunaRaje, Bollywood actor & model Simone Singh, theatre director Quasar ThakorePadamsee, author and poet Jerry Pinto and Iris Prize festival director Berwyn Rowlands.

* Best Narrative Feature film wins a cash award of Rs 30,000 and Best Indian Short films wins a cash prize of Rs 20,000 both sponsored by Bollywood actor AnupamKher and his acting school Actor Prepares.

* Best Actor in a Lead Role award instituted this year by Bollywood actor AnupamKher and his acting school Actor Prepares.

* Other awards are Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Shorts and Best International Narrative Shorts

* Opening Film The Parade from Serbia

* Closing film is RituparnoGhosh’sChitrangada: The Crowning Wish

* The Best Indian queer short film at KASHISH gets to compete for the Iris Prize in UK which carries a cash prize of 25,000 pounds.

Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival created history in April 2010 by holding the first ever queer film festival in India in a mainstream theatre and receive clearance from the Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. Since its debut in 2010, KASHISH today is one of the biggest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) film festivals in India and South Asia. It is a landmark event, not only in the LGBTQ movement, but also an important annual event in Mumbai’s cultural calendar.