Brazilian film Music For The Bleeding Hearts wins big at KASHISH 2020 Virtual

KASHISH 2020 Virtual Award winners announced at an online glittering closing & award ceremony

The Brazilian film Music For the Bleeding Hearts (Música Para Morrer De Amor) won the Best Narrative Feature film at the 11th edition of KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, South Asia's biggest LGBTQI film festival. Directed by Rafael Gomes, the film also won the Best Screenplay award. The awards were announced by the narrative jury comprising of National award winning filmmakers Hansal Mehta and Sunil Sukhtankar, and actor Sandhya Mridul. Cash awards of around Rs 2 lakhs were given to winners in eight award categories at the closing ceremony of KASHISH 2020 Virtual - the online edition of the festival - that was live streamed on July 30, 2020, on Facebook and YouTube, due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions.

Sending a message from Sao Paulo, director of Music For Bleeding Hearts Rafael Gomes said, “In such harsh times as the one we are living in, all across the world, we are glad that our film could be felt like a warm embrace and to everyone who watched it – thank you very much and we hope next time this would be a face-to-face experience instead of a virtual one”.

The Best Indian Narrative Short film was won by The Song We Sang directed by Aarti Neharsh. The much coveted award, the award for Best Performance in a Lead Role, was won by Benjamin Daimary for his portrayal of a transgender person in the Indian feature film Fireflies (Jonaki Porua) directed by Prakash Deka. The Riyad Wadia Award for Best Emerging Indian Filmmaker, instituted by Wadia Movietone, went to Sunday by Arun Fulara.

The virtual award ceremony featured performances by Indo-Canadian musical sensation Jonita Gandhi, queer breakdancer Shraddha Kutty, trans dancer Navya Singh, and queer singer Omi (Them) Adhikari. The evening was hosted by well-known RJ Rohini Ramnathan.

“Organizing the virtual film festival was a Herculean task in itself amidst the lockdown and the challenging situation, and screening 157 films from 42 countries in 52 programs that were available online to watch from any part of the world was a mammoth effort. We were truly blessed to have such stupendous feedback from audiences across the globe who appreciated the brilliant curation of films and panel discussions. The closing ceremony was indeed the crowning glory with awesome performances and the eminent jury reading out the citations. The happiness and joy of the award winners expressed through their acceptance speeches, gave us immense gratification and we will cherish this for a long time. The event was truly befitting of South Asia’s biggest LGBTQIA+ film festival, bringing together diverse voices from across the globe”, said Sridhar Rangayan, festival director.

The Best International Narrative Short award went to Touchscreen, from the USA, directed by Arthur Halpern. There were two special mentions in this category that went to My Brother Is A Mermaid by Alfie Dale and We Are Dancers by Joe Morris, both from the UK.

The award for Best Documentary Feature was won by the Mexican film One Taxi Ride directed by Mak CK. A special mention for Best Documentary Feature was given to the UK film set in Georgia, March For Dignity by John Eames. The award for Best Documentary Short went to the Brazilian short film Breakwater directed by Cris Lyra.

The award for Best Student Short was won by the Taiwanese short film The Summer Of 12 directed by Kuan-Ling Kuo, a student of Shih-Hsing University, Tainan, Taiwan. A special jury mention was given in this category to the film Neon Hearts directed by Ana Jakimska, a student of Faculty of Dramatic Arts, Skopje, North Macedonia.

The Documentary Jury comprised of Faiza Ahmed Khan, Miriam Chandy Menacherry and Nakul Singh Sawhney. The Student Shorts Jury consisted of Rabiya Nazki, Shankhajeet De and Tangella Madhavi.

The award partners were Lotus Visual, K.F.Patil Charitable Trust, Wadia Movietone, Whistling Woods International, Gol Studios, Abhay Kulkani and Wendell Rodricks.

The festival partners were The Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Morgan Stanley, the Consulate General of Canada, the Québec Government Office in Mumbai.

KASHISH 2020 Virtual screened 157 LGBTQIA+ films from 42 countries out of which 52 films were in competition. The festival that was kicked off on July 22nd with a glittering opening ceremony featuring Sunita Buyan and Lady Galore, concluded on July 30th with the award function with Jonita Gandhi’s performance. A special feature of the closing was also a festival team video with volunteers from the first edition in 2010 to the current one joining in a song of celebration.

“Now onto KASHISH 2021, hopefully back at the iconic Liberty Cinema,” Rangayan added.

Information about the entire festival can be found at

Winners Quotes

Rafael Gomes, writer and director, Music For the Bleeding Hearts:  “In such harsh times as the one we are living in, all across the world, we are glad that our film could be felt like a warm embrace and to everyone who watched it – thank you very much and we hope next time this would be a face-to-face experience instead of a virtual one”.

Benjamin Daimary, actor, Fireflies (Jonaki Porua): “I am extremely happy and very thankful of Prakash da (Deka) and Bitopi ba for believing in me. It is an absolute honour receiving an award from such a big film festival for my debut film. I am truly happy and just cannot describe my feelings in my words. Dhonnyobad!”

Aarti Neharsh, director, The Song We Sang: “I am very happy to be receiving it on behalf of the entire team of The Song We Sang, I want to thank the jury, I want to thank KASHISH for providing us this wonderful platform where the film could reach so many people and I want to thank everyone who has watched the film and has shown so much love and appreciation for it… it’s been really overwhelming and I am very grateful”.

Arun Fulara, director, Sunday: “This is such an amazing honour. I would really like to thank the jury, the organizers of the festival and everybody who has worked with the festival, not only this year but over so many years to help create such an amazing platform for filmmakers who want to tell stories from the community, about the community. I hope the festival continues to grow stronger and continues to provide a platform for fresher and newer, more diverse voices. I am thrilled to have won this award”.

Kelly Miller, Actor-Producer, Touchscreen: "We woke up to this news this morning and are wonderfully surprised and honoured especially with this amazing international programming that KASHISH put together. We are so fortunate to be a part of it. Thank you to the whole KASHISH team for taking such good care of us. Amazing festival and we are just so proud to be a part of it." 

Mak CK, director, One Taxi Ride: “When Erik, the protagonist of the film and I started this journey five years ago, our goal was quite simple – If we can help just one other survivor of the sexual violence understand that they are not alone, then our work is done. It gives us a lot of joy to know that the film has connected with people in different parts of the world and the opportunity to share it in India is priceless and we would like to thank KASHISH and everyone involved in the festival as well as the jury members for recognizing the work so on behalf of everyone involved, thank you very much!”

Cris Lyra, director, Breakwater: “I am very happy and I would like to thank the festival, the programmers, the whole staff and the jury very much for this prize. I would also like to greet my fellow filmmakers that were part of this program… I would like to dedicate this prize to all the lesbian artists and filmmakers - we were and are made invisible for so long, so this is a very special moment”.

Kuan-Ling Kuo, director, The Summer of 12: “I am so glad to hear this news and get this honour at KASHISH 2020 Virtual. Hope this film can be made more effective to let people understand what they are facing when they are into puberty, especially sexual orientation. Thanks for the choice and everyone who saw this film”.

Special Mention awardees Quotes

Alfie Dale, director, My Brother Is A Mermaid : “We are absolutely thrilled. It’s a fantastic festival with an incredible line-up, so we are over the moon to have received this special mention. We are really chuffed.”

Joe Morris, director, We Are Dancers : “It’s been a great privilege for our short film to be included in South Asia’s biggest queer film festival. Very excited and proud of that. We are also very proud that our message is resonating with audiences around the world and we hope that everyone who has seen Hanzy’s message of defiance will continue to fight for our rights to live and love”.

Ana Jakimska, Director, Neon Hearts :  "Receiving the news about our short film being awarded with a Special Mention at KASHISH 2020 was one of the highlights of this summer. Knowing how we made this film, with little to no budget, but with great help from everybody at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, and with the unconditional trust and devotion of the amazing cast and experienced crew, I feel pride and immense gratitude. Our film had the honor to be shown within the student film programs of more than 20 festivals around Europe, but the official selection at KASHISH IQFF marked a milestone in our film’s journey. Learning about the history of KASHISH and how it brought queer cinema to the mainstream theaters in India for the first time, I feel honored as an author to be given a spot on this valuable timeline." 

To register to attend KASHISH 2020 Virtual please check

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