KASHISH MIQFF 2019 inaugurated, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Rekha Bhardwaj at opening ceremony

The 10 th KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival was inaugurated on Wednesday June 12 evening. South Asia’s biggest LGBTQ film festival will be held from June 12-16, 2019 at two of Mumbai’s iconic theatres – Liberty Carnival Cinema and Metro Inox. The opening night ceremony saw actors, filmmakers, industrialists, activists and the LGBTQ community walk the red carpet. The five-day festival kicked off with a rousing perfomance by acclaimed singer Rekha Bhardwaj.

“I am happy to be at the festival and it was good to know that an (LGBTQ) film festival is being held in an organised manner for the last 10 years. It is great that we have an opportunity to see and appreciate such films with layers of complexity and emotions along with the mainstream audiences. I had never been part of a film (with an LGBTQ character) till the web-series ‘Sacred Games’ happened. It was for the first time when I was paired opposite Kubbra Sait (who plays the character of KuKu, a transgender person) that I started understanding more about the  community,” said actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui. “Wish the festival all the best,” added the actor.

“June is Pride Month around the world, and that’s why KASHISH this year is being held in June, to celebrate its 10th anniversary along with the world. Celebrations are also due as this is the first mainstream LGBTQ film festival in India after reading down of Section 377. The response to the 10 edition has been overwhelming not only by filmmakers and corporates but also a large number of delegates registering to attend the festival from the LGBTQ community as well as mainstream film aficionados. We are truly ‘Over The Rainbow’,” said festival director Sridhar Rangayan.

“I congratulate KASHISH on its 10th anniversary. I am so happy to be part of this year’s celebrations. I am looking forward to attend the film screenings, meeting beautiful friends and like-minded individuals. I hope more and more people support this initiative,” said Rekha Bhardwaj, who preformed her popular songs.

The opening ceremony was hosted by singer Rani Kohe-noor and actor Kubbra Sait. The ceremony was preceded by a red carpet that featured LGBTQ community members, actors, filmmakers, activists, corporates and industralists.

The title partner of South Asia’s biggest LGBTQ film festival this year is Keshav Suri Foundation along with The Lalit and It Gets Better India. Skybags and Godrej Industries are Principal Partners, while Morgan Stanley, Consulate General of Canada in Mumbai, Québec Government Office in Mumbai are coming in as an Associate Partners. Two OTT platforms Revery and GoL studios are Associate Partner and Supporting Partner respectively. Whistling Woods International and Consulate General of Sweden in Mumbai are the other Supporting Partners.

“Heartiest congratulations to KASHISH for a fruitful decade long journey. The Lalit and Keshav Suri Foundation are proud to be associated with the KASHISH Film Festival that has stood the test of time in its support of the LGBTQ+ Community, even when homosexuality was considered a ‘crime’ in India, KASHISH continued to promote Queer art and bring their stories into fore. The ethos of the festival is completely in sync with the motto of the Keshav Suri Foundation – to embrace, empower and mainstream the community. This year is doubly special as one of the movies selected for screening – Queen – narrates the journey of the Drag Queens at Kitty Su. At the festival you will also see the short movie Intezaar, which was released on our platform. I wish every queer artist, person, ally and the festival all the very best. Let’s paint the world with rainbow hues, and make it a better India”, said Keshav Suri, Founder, Keshaav Suri Foundation and Executive Director, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group.

“We are proud to associate with the 10th Anniversary edition of the KASHISH Film Festival. At Godrej, we believe in building a diverse and inclusive workforce and ensuring equal rights for our LGBT employees. Cinema is a medium that reflects society’s values and has an important role to play in shaping its beliefs and attitudes. We look forward to strengthening our collaboration with KASHISH to ensure we jointly celebrate individuality and equality at Godrej and beyond.” said Pirojsha Godrej, Executive Chairman, Godrej Properties Limited, in a message issued before the function.

“Section 377 was a fig leaf that a lot of companies used to hide behind. Now is the time to come out and walk the talk by creating a culture of inclusion. We see a lot of companies changing their branding to rainbow colours during Pride month. What the need of the hour is to offer jobs to LGBTQ folks,” said Parmesh Shahani of Godrej India Culture Lab.

50 Indian and International LGBTQ films will compete for awards at the 10th edition of KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival to be held between June 12-16, 2019. The festival will hand out cash prizes of Rs 3.95 lakhs in 10 film categories and for the best poster design. The awards are sponsored by Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepares, Lotus Visual, Whistling Woods International, GagaOOLala, K F Patil Charitable Trust, Wadia Movietone and India’s top fashion designer Wendell Rodricks. There are three juries at the festival this year – the Narrative Jury comprises actors Kitu Gidwani, Sheeba Chaddha and filmmaker Neeraj Ghaywan, the documentary jury comprises of filmmakers Pankaj Rishi Kumar, Paromita Vohra and Ranjan Das and the student jury has Professor Ivan John, screenwriter Jyoti Kapoor and filmmaker Somnath Sen.

Delegates can register for KASHISH 2019 at: Liberty Carnival Cinema
KASHISH is presently raising funds through crowdfunding on Wishberry to organise the festival. KASHISH 2019 is crowdfunding on: https://www.wishberry.in/campaign/kashish-2019-over-the-rainbow

KASHISH 2019 Theme
KASHISH 2019 festival theme ‘Over The Rainbow’ not only commemorates the reading down of Sec 377 and decriminalization of same-sex relationships in India, but also defines the challenges in store for the LGBTQ community’s journey towards empowerment and social acceptance. Bringing together films from all over the world as well as panel discussions and performances, the festival will showcase the shared struggles and victories, and offer a window to existing and future possibilities. Let’s together journey over the rainbow to discover the land of equality & dignity.

About KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival
Voted as one of the Top 5 LGBT Film Festival in the World, KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is South Asia’s biggest queer film festival and the only LGBT film festival in India to be held in a mainstream theatre. Founded in 2010, KASHISH is held over 5 days at three venues. It is the first Indian LGBT festival to be held with approval by the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, Government of India. KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is presented by KASHISH Arts Foundation and organized by Solaris Pictures. Besides the annual film festival its other initiatives are KASHISH Forward – India’s first travelling campus LGBTQ film festival, KASHISH Global – that facilitates screening of Indian LGBTQ films across the world, Best of KASHISH film screenings and KASHISH Chalchitra Utsav – a festival of LGBTQ films in regional languages.