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KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is looking for donations. For two years, we have entertained while trying to mainstream queer identities through the medium of films. This year, we promise a bigger show, for queer persons, their families, friends and for Everyone.
KASHISH is the only mainstream queer film festival in India with approval from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. The film festival is a not-for-profit event and one of the only festival of its kind that doesn’t charge ticket prices or registration fee as we firmly believe we need to reach out to Everyone.
KASHISH 2012 will be held between May 23-27, 2012, at Cinemax Versova in suburban Mumbai and Alliance Francaise de Bombay in South Mumbai. KASHISH is not only a festival that spotlights LGBTQ cinema, but has also become a landmark festival in Mumbai’s cultural event calendar.  With no government support and corporate sponsorship in India still difficult to come by, we rely heavily on support from individuals and organizations to make the festival happen. We are crowd-funding the festival this year through and
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Kashish 2010

Stars, Films, and a queer film makes it debut

*Zeenat Aman at Kashish*

`Chura Liya Hai Tumne Jo Dil Ko' - the audience could well have sung to her as Zeenat Aman traipsed down the red carpet at PVR Juhu on Sunday. The occasion was the closing of Kashish - Mumbai International Queer Film
Festival 2010, just before the screening of the festival closing film 'Donno Y... Na Jaane Kyu. "In the '70s, I was at the forefront of the hippie moment with 'Hare Ram Hare Krishna'; 'Donno Y...' will similarly lead the new wave of queer films in the country," said Zeenat Aman, who led the cast and crew of the yet to be released film, including Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal and debutants Yuvraaj Parashar and Kapil Sharma.

"When Kapil came to me with the story of 'Donno Y…' I thought it was different, multi-layered with many shades," said Zeenat while speaking about the movie. "Bollywood has for years had dress designers, make-up artistes and hair dressers who were open about their sexuality and were accepted," she said, but in answer to an audience question she said, "I personally don't know of any gay actors who are in the closet."

Zeenat said that though Bollywood has fleetingly touched upon queer issues in films like 'Dostana', there was a change afoot to deal with the issue sensitively. Asked about the secret of her beauty, she replied modestly with a smile, "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder."

Sanjay Sharma, the director of 'Donno Y', said that he was proud that it was the festival's closing film. The film's writer and actor Kapil Sharma said: "Our film is on a sensitive issue. We hope it entertains you and leaves you
with a smile."

‘Dunno Y…’ is a film about an Anglo-Indian family living in Goa that goes through many crises – from a father who deserts the family to a son who comes to terms with his sexuality after his marriage. The film is a
contemporary take on what it means to be gay in India where social taboos and family pressures do not allow a person to fulfil his need for love.

*Lost and Found' wins Best Indian Short at Kashish*

Delhi-based filmmaker Shrenik Jain's `Lost and Found' won the Best Indian Short Film Award at the Kashish - Mumbai International Queer Film Festival 2010. ‘Lost and Found’ is an 11-minute film about a comedy of errors that follows when two strangers meet in a crowded bus.

The awards were handed out at a ceremony at PVR Juhu on Sunday evening. The Best Short Documentary award went to Bharathy Manjula's Malayalam film 'XXWHY' about Kerala's first out female-to-male (F2M) transgender. 'Prodigal Sons' directed by Kimberly Reed, and 'Steam' directed by Eldar Rapaport, both from the USA, won Best Feature Documentary and Best International Short Film awards, respectively, at the festival.

Special jury cash awards were also handed out to 'Flying Inside My Body' (Short Documentary), 'Holding Hands' (Feature Documentary) and 'Dirty Magazines' (International Short Film), and a special jury award to a media
student's film - 'Speak Up! It is not your fault'.

The jury was effusive in their praise for the films screened at the festival. "I enjoyed my four-day journey with Kashish," said Dolly Thakore, a theatre personality. "I wish these films could reach out and be shown to a
wider audience," she said.

Reaching out to a larger audience should be the aim was also the view of another jury member and a film critic, Meenakshi Shedde. "The quality of the Indian films shown at Kashish was jaw dropping. They dealt with a spectrum of issues and were multi-layered. Even at international film festivals like Cannes and Venice, out of the many films screened, there are four of five that remain with you. At Kashish too, there are four to five films that I will take home and remember, said Meenakshi.

Jury member and nation-award winning actor Rajit Kapur credited Kashish with broadening his horizons and widening his perspective. "I do consider myself educated, liberal and modern. I am leaving Kashish after four days as a richer human being," said Kapur, adding, "These films should be a part of any mainstream film festival. This is a part of you, me, us."

Another jury member and again a National Award winning actor, Suhasini Mulay, also heaped praise on the films. "The calibre and craftsmanship of the filmmakers just got me...," she said. "The Indian entries were sensitive
and well-made. They may have been made without much money, but conveyed what they wanted to say. That is the core of a good film."

Over the last four days, over 500 people came to watch the over 110 films that were screened simultaneously at two venues - PVR Juhu in suburban Mumbai and Alliance Francaise, Marine Lines in South Mumbai. "We never
expected the film festival to get such a huge response," said Sridhar Rangayan, festival director.

The audience too was all praise for the film festival. Jehangir Jani, an artist known for alternative themes in his sculptures and paintings, commented on the platform that Kashish provided for the community. "When I
came out in the '80s I never knew anything about gay culture, except in snatches. Kashish is a landmark event because something like this has got a mainstream venue and is in the public eye."

As Dolly Thakore told Ashok Row Kavi, founder of Bombay Dost and Humsafar Trust, co-organisers of Kashish: “Little did one know that when we met in the early ’80s, you would start a [gay] movement of such dimensions [in India]. What a wonderful team you have orchestrated… so disciplined and professional. You have to be proud of your success. I can’t begin to tell you how privileged I feel to have participated in your maiden venture.
Congratulations. More power to you.”

*List of awards at Kashish – Mumbai International Queer Film Festival 2010*

*Category: Short Documentary*

1. Best Documentary Short Award plus Jury Cash Award - XXWHY

2. Special Jury Cash Award - FLYING INSIDE MY BODY.

3. Special Jury Cash Award for Student Film - SPEAK UP! IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

*Category: Feature Documentary*

1. Best Documentary Feature Award plus Jury Cash Award - PRODIGAL SONS.

2. Special Jury Cash Award - HOLDING HANDS.

*Category: International Short*

1. Best International Short Award plus Jury Cash Award - STEAM.

2. Special Jury Cash Award - DIRTY MAGAZINES.

3. Special Jury Cash Award - I AM GAY.

*Category: Indian Short*

1. Best Indian Short Award plus Jury Cash Award of Rs.10,000 - LOST & FOUND.

A look at the other three days of the festival

Day 3 – Ek Madhavbaug

A year and a half after director and playwright Chetan Datar's death, his  pathbreaking play `Ek Madhavbaug' was translated into Hindi. A play reading by Mona Ambegaonkar brought the roof down at PVR Juhu. An emotional Vivek Anand, CEO of Humsafar Trust and a close friend of Datar, who translated the play into Hindi, said it was a huge moment for him personally. "EK Madhavbaug was staged in Marathi and English and there were plans to always do a Hindi version, which never happened during Datar's lifetime," said Vivek. A tale about an unconventional mom's discovery of her son's sexuality and her efforts to deal with it, got a standing ovation from the audience for Mona.
"Society may not be there to always support you and agree with your choices, but you have to go ahead with your journey irrespective," said Mona. Asked about how should parents deal with a lesbian or gay child, she replied, "It should be a hands-off approach, but be there to support them."Mona's performance not only got a standing ovation but brought tears into many eyes.
Saturday also saw the houseful sign going up for four consecutive sessions at the 112-seater PVR Juhu.The other highlights of the day were ‘Suddenly, Last Winter’ - about how a couple deals with a wave of homophobia sweeping through Italy; Prodigal Sons  and Amnesia: The James Brighton Enigma. There were many transgender-themed films at the Alliance Francaise today and  the highlight there was a panel discussion called 'Trans Gaze -- the world of transgenders through the lens'. The panellists were the makers of a film called 'Our Family', Anjali Monteiro and Jayashankar, who belong to Tata  Institute of Social Sciences; Prasanth Kanatur, whose film 'The Missing  Colours' is being shown at the festival, and Urmi, head of the 'Care and Support' unit of Humsafar Trust. The discussion was moderated by Dalip Daswani.Author R. Raj Rao attended some of the sessions at the Alliance Francaise along with friends from Pune. Day 2  - Girls Day Out It was a day for the girls. At PVR Juhu, there were two special film packages for women in love with women and a retrospective of lesbian filmmaker Pratibha Parmar. Films in the `Love stories for girls' and `Girls Talk' packages were all about the first kiss from the girlfriend, blind dates and caring but bitchy lovers. "The intention was to make it a sort of community outing so that a whole group of girl friends could come to the theatre together to meet, watch the films and talk," said festival director Sridhar Rangayan. The highlights of the day were `The Other War' - a tale from Israel about
three women caught in the middle of a war, 'U-Haul: The Music Video' and 'Jodie: An icon'. The T in LGBT was represented through two poignant movies, 'The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquella' and 'Unraveling Michelle', a journey through the male to female transition of a filmmaker.In the afternoon, Onir, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, Mahesh Dattani, Meenakshi Shedde and Ashok Row Kavi came together for a discussion on role
of the media and celebrity in advocacy, moderated by Parmesh Shahani. The discussion began with a brief flashback into queer representation in Indian cinema in recent years. Mahesh said that being at Kashish has brought home the fact that 12 years after writing the play 'A Muggy Night in Mumbai' on a gay theme, it's good to know that one is not alone on the subject of gay love, that there are other writers using this theme. Meenakshi Shedde, who was asked about 'Dostana' said that the movie was intelligent in the way the many layers of queer issues were represented in a movie that reached the mass market, hence the film is precious in its own way.
However, she praised 'Sancharam' for being a bold film that gave such dignity to same-sex love, in contrast to 'Dostana'. She also said that the upcoming 'Just Another Love Story' is also very sophisticated and brings out
a nuanced discussion on alternate sexuality. Ashok Row Kavi said that the last 15 years of the LGBT movement have been marked by fear and anxiety connected to Section 377. Carrying over from the panel discussion on cinema and censorship the previous day at the Alliance Francaise venue of Kashish, he said that why should only Karan Johar be allowed to make money on a Dostana -- why are film festivals like Kashish barred by the government from charging their delegates? We must have sustainable models for festivals in India.Manav revealed that while being an out gay man and belonging to a royal  family at the same time has brought him much love and respect abroad, he feels a great sense of responsibility from both these identities and he has had to keep a balance between the two. Manav said that he can't help it if he was born into a royal family but he would prefer being known as an activist. He tells other gay royals who are unwilling to come out to at least support the LGBT community in other ways.Onir revealed how 'My Brother Nikhil' was his first film so it was important to position it. He had to 'cheat' the mainstream audience into watching his HIV-themed film by not highlighting the fact that a gay couple was at the centre of the film. After the theatrical release, the film went to gay festivals and events everywhere. Five years after that film, he finds himself more confident as a filmmaker and has a film 'I AM' with the 'I AM OMAR' story highlighting police harassment of and social discrimination
against gay men. Incidentally, the trailer of 'I AM' was premiered at the Kashish opening ceremony on Thursday.Parmesh raised various questions related to celeb culture and the commoditization of culture including identities like 'queer'. Why are there not enough celebrities supporting the queer cause? Why are there very few queer celebrities? Ashok Row Kavi said that four of Bollywood's biggest directors are gay but closeted. They better be ashamed. At least I have Onir on my side. He added that we must not completely depend on celebrities; what's needed is a mass movement that walks on the feet of activists.Onir said it is important to have the right kind of celebrities endorsing queer issues, people who really believe in what they are saying. For example, we should not have an actor doing a pretend-gay role. Meenaskshi said there was no way of avoiding celeb culture but one way of taking advantage of it is to sensitize the intelligent celebrities about queer issues. Another way is for the queer community to take a stand on the other large issues that concern society which will open up our connections with it. The discussion was punctuated with a lot of humor thanks to Ashok Row Kavi and Manav. Kashish started distributing among its delegates complimentary copies of a booklet of extracts from a new shorty story collection called 'Quarantine' by debutant Rahul Mehta, thanks to publisher Random House.

Kashish 2010 – Day 1

Kashish - Mumbai International Queer Film Festival had a star-studded opening on Thursday with some of the cast of 'I Am' inaugurating the four-day fest.
Director Onir led his cast
members, Manisha Koirala, Rahul Bose, Sanjay Suri and Purab Kohli in lighting the traditional lamp at PVR Juhu to declare the film festival open. This is the first queer film festival in India of international stature. It is also probably the first in India to be held at a mainstream venue."I am really proud that Mumbai is hosting an international queer film festival of this stature," said actor Manisha Koirala. Sanjay Suri, who is also producing I Am, echoed this sentiment. "I wish this film festival had happened five years ago so that we could have premiered 'My Brother Nikhil' here," said Sanjay, who thanked the UNDP and Humsafar Trust for their support for 'I Am'.
Onir said he was proud to be part of the opening of Kashish. Actor Rahul Bose dwelled on the fact that everyone is a victim of discrimination and stereotyping at some point of time. Onir’s latest film is based on true incidents and is truly a community-owned film, with funds raised through social networking sites and over 400 contributors worldwide coming together in common cause. Four stories of marginalized individuals
who are forced to struggle against society, shot in four cities, dealing with four issues never dealt with by so-called mainstream cinema: I AM AFIA, I AM OMAR, I AM ABHIMANYU, I AM MEGHA.Earlier during the opening ceremony, anchor Neha called upon festival directors Sridhar Rangayan and Vivek Anand and Ashok Row Kavi, Technical Officer Sexual Minorities Desk at UNAIDS India and the founder of Humsafar Trust to take the stage and set things in motion."We always wanted to get a queer film festival of international standards to Mumbai," said Sridhar. "This year the screenings are at Audi 5; I have a dream that at next year's edition of Kashish all five screens at PVR would screen the film festival," said Vivek. Ashok said that UNDP and UNAIDS would continue their support of Kashish.Sridhar introduced the jury members: theatreperson Dolly Thakore; actor Suhasini Mulay; playwright Mahesh Dattani; actor Rajit Kapur; and film critic Meenakshi Shedde. Dolly Thakore expressed her unflinching support for the cause. Mahesh commended the Kashish team for "visibilising the invisibles.' Suhasini Mulay and Rajit Kapur said they were amazed at the talent reflected in the films, including the Indian entries, many of which were first-time efforts.The screenings began at 10 am simultaneously at PVR Juhu and
Alliance Francaise, Manine Lines, to packed audiences. The highlights of Day 1 were 'Flying Inside My Body' - a documentary on photographer Sunil Gupta; two documentaries by Sophia College students `Engayging Lives'  and 'Speak Up, It's Not your fault'; and a panel discussion on cinema and censorship with panelists censor board member Nandini Sardesai, anti-censorship activist Gargi Sen, filmmaker Vinta Nanda and Ashok Row Kavi, moderated by Paromita Vohra. Nandini and Gargi took diametrically opposite stands on the issue while others questioned the need for censoring films in the age of mobile MMS/online videos. Ashok Row Kavi held the audience enthralled with his unique take on queer representation in cinema.

To view pictures of the* opening ceremony*, please click on this link to get
into an online folder containing the images (no sign-in required):
To view pictures of the *opening gala* held at Vie Lounge Juhu on the eve of
the festival (ie 21 April), please click on this link that will take you to
the online folder (again, no sign-in required)

Kashish 2011

I AM all the way – looking back at the second year of the film fest that was held between May 25-May 29, 2011

Bollywood director Onir’s `I AM’ won the award for the Best Narrative Feature at the 2nd KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival. The closing ceremony of India’s biggest queer event was held at Cinemax-Versova, Andheri (West) on May 29, 2011.
Accepting the award, Onir said, ``Thank you KASHISH, this is a very special award for three reasons. This is the first time I am getting an award in Mumbai. Secondly, I am happy to receive this award from Sai-ji with whom I started my career and lastly my lovely cast is here to support me."
Juhi Chawla said, "It is lovely to be here. I wish KASHISH goes from strength to strength and scale to scale."
Rahul Bose who had been to the festival last year for the premiere of the film’s trailer, recalled the way the festival had started. ``The festival and me are on the margins, but when we have to be creative, it allows us to be more freer,’’ said Rahul Bose.
Sanjay Suri, who acts in the film and is also a producer thanked Kashish and the jury for selecting the film. ``The film wouldn’t have been possible without the contribution of 400 persons from across the world who send in money to finance the film. This award is dedicated those people.’’
Jury Chairperson Sai Paranjpye said the decision to award I AM was ``unanimous’’. The film was awarded for its ``truly kaleidoscopic vision of the human condition. The film narrates four diverse stories, which deal with a spectrum of topics including same-gender relationships. The quartet is a marvellous portrait of contemporary social concerns, in sum their impact being bold as well as beautiful,’’ she said while reading the citation.

Another ``I AM’’ won the special jury award at KASHISH. This was Sonal Gulati’s docufeature. The jury gave ``whole-hearted thumbs up for the film’s bold and frank accounts of young gay men and women dealing with family prejudices as well as understanding.’’

The Best Documentary Feature award went to David Weissman’s ``We Were Here’’ from the USA. The jury was won over by its ``in-depth realization - through personalized interviews and incisive reportage – of a heart wrenching chapter of history – the advent of AIDS in San Francisco of the 1970s-80s.’’

The Best Documentary Short Film award was won by Bill Brummel and Geoffrey Sharp from USA  for their film Bullied ``for a stark and disturbing trials and tribulations of a gay student facing ongoing torture and relentless bullying of his peers, to which school authorities seem to turn a blind eye to. His eventual triumph makes the film inspiring and edifying.’’

The Best International Narrative Short Film was awarded to ``Let The World Know About Me’’ by Marianna Giordano from Argentina `` for the film’s inventive blend of the musical idiom with a purposeful point to make, vis-à-vis the stepping out by a girl… from the by-now claustrophobic closet.
The Best Indian Narrative Short Film award was won by Amen, for its directors Ranadeep Bhattacharya and Judhajit Bagchi. The film won the award for ``the sensitive depiction of the little known aspect of same gender dating through websites; the film’s assertive conclusion, credible performances, and technical assurance.’’ As the winner, KASHISH will nominate `Amen’ for the Iris Prize in UK, which carries a cash prize of 25,000 pounds.
The first RIYAD WADIA AWARD FOR BEST EMERGING INDIAN FILMMAKER was won by Shumona Banerjee for ``the whimsical, witty and yet so wise’’ ‘Kusum – The Flower Bud, about a spunky transvestite’s bond with an eccentric professor. The award, which carries a cash prize of Rs 10,000 was instituted by the Wadia family, in memory of pioneering film maker Riyad Wadia, who made India’s first gay film ``BOMGay’’.
Another first at KASHISH was the KASHISH COFFEE BREAK AUDIENCE AWARD where 10 films were hosted online and voted by a global audience. The winner, decided by online votes was ``NOTHING HAPPENED by JULIA KOTS from USA.
The jury headed by noted filmmaker Sai Paranjpye, comprised film critic and filmmaker Khalid Mohamad, actress Shernaz Patel, actor Samir Soni and Indonesian film curator John Badalu.
``When we started Kashish last year, we never ever dreamt that it would grow to such a huge scale in just its second year. The number of people, the number of shows, the number of visiting filmmakers have been fantastic. KASHISH is as much about awareness and advocacy, as it is about entertainment and glamour,’’ said Festival Director Sridhar Rangayan, adding, ``KASHISH 2011 rocked.’’
``The second edition of KASHISH ends on an extremely motivating note, as despite having a much bigger theatre, there were house full shows, reflecting the thirst of the audiences for queer themed films. Next, year we will be back, bigger and bolder,’’ said Festival Director Vivek Anand.

Kashish 2011 that focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender films was announced by Celina Jaitley, KASHISH's Festival Ambassador and Shyam Benegal, the Festival Patron.

We take a look at how the festival that was!

Opening Night

Filmmaker Sai Paranjpye and Bollywood actress and filmmaker Pooja Bhatt on Wednesday threw open the second edition of India's biggest LGBT event - Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival - in a star studded red carpet event at Cinemax Versova.
``Kashish has really taken root and can today loudly and proudly proclaim that it will be an annual event that will be part of the cultural life of Mumbai,'' said Sai Paranjpye, adding, ``People are getting used to the gay way of life.''
``Indian society is getting over its prudishness and is a far cry from the time that sex was not discussed and homosexuality was not even in the closet but brushed under the carpet,'' said Paranjpye. ``Film is the potent of all visual mediums and and films at Kashish should not just be restricted to the festival but also be available for general viewing,’’ she added.
``Let us have more forums like Kashish,'' said Pooja Bhatt as she exhorted the LGBT community to ``come out and speak out''.
``Why should you ask for equal rights - demand it, grab it,'' the actor-turned-director said.
Pooja Bhatt recalled the first film that she had produced - Tamanna, which was about a eunuch raising an abandoned girl child. ``I never imagined that the film would one day lead to a festival like this.’’
“If you are gay or lesbian, the most revolutionary thing is to step out of the closet. People only fear what they don't know. Festivals like these will in fact eliminate that fear. It will make people realise that you and me are the same."”, she said passionately.
Sai Paranjpye lit the traditional lamp to declare the five-day film festival open, while Pooja Bhatt released the festival catalogue.
The opening ceremony started with scintillating performances by Asif Ali Beg and UK-based singer and filmmaker Rikki Beadle-Blair.
``Kashish is a dream,'' said Sridhar Rangayan, Festival director. ``This year we have a huge collection of films from around the world and some stimulating panel discussions in store for the audiences. We have a bigger theatre this year and we want everyone to return every day to watch great queer films ''
Festival director Vivek Aanand said that the USP of KASHISH was ``thoda hatke''. ``This is an overwhelming moment and the opening night performances made me think that the streets of Castro and Sydney had been transported to Mumbai.''

It was an evening to remember as the city's queer community rubbed shoulders with the crème da la crème of Mumbai's social scene. Adman Alyque Padamsee, theatre actors Dolly Thakore and Mona Ambegaonkar, actress Suhasini Mulay and Kim Sharma, actor and Kashish jury member Samir Soni and Karan Mehra, filmmaker Vinta Nanda, playwright Mahesh Dattani and the gay Indian prince Manavendra Singh Gohil mingled with the audience.
The opening ceremony was followed by the screening of the opening movie of the festival – the internationally acclaimed ``Undertow’’ from Peru.

Day 2 -  The Rainbow Warriors

``Come out and speak out,'' actor turned producer director Pooja Bhatt's clarion call at the inauguration of KASHISH-2011 defined the second day of India's biggest queer film fest on Thursday.
Shorts featuring the grassroots fighting for their rightful place in society, docu-features and the `T’ in LGBT was the flavour of the day.
The highlight was the special package ``Boo To Bullying'' with films that dealt with the torment and harassment faced by gay teens growing up. This was followed by the first panel discussion of the festival ``Bullying and Homophobia in colleges and at the workplace''.
Festival director Sridhar Rangayan introduced the panel comprising of UK-based filmmakers Rikki Beadle-Blair and Georgette Okey, activist Harish Iyer and Sonal Giani.
The panel shared their personal experiences of bullying during their school days, discussing how most people being bullied may not even be aware that they are being bullied until it takes on a more severe form. This bulling takes on many forms from isolating a person to verbally abusing them as well as spreading rumours about a person, besides the distancing that most persons face, the panel members also expressed a singular experience in the lack of support they felt from ‘authority” figures.  
This theme was carried on to the feature film that followed - Beadle-Blair's `Fit', which used campy humour, dance and music for its sensitive portrayal of bullying in colleges and homophobia on campus. The movie was the result of a play that Beadle-Blair took to schools and colleges. ``I prefer homophobia is out in the open, so that we can deal with it, rather than brushing it under the carpet,'' said Beadle-Blair, who also showed off some Bollywood thumkas during the Q and A.
The festival also had an Italian connection – Adele Tulli’s `365 without 377’. The film features Beena, a lesbian woman, Pallav, a gay activist and Abheena, a transgendered activist, travelling through the city of Mumbai heading to the celebrations for the first anniversary of the historic Delhi High court verdict decriminalising homosexuality. A special moment was Abheena’s mother who had recently come to terms with her child’s trans-sexual identity and was present to watch the film.
At Alliance Francaise, the other venue of the festival, trans identities were in focus, with films that dealt with the lives of transgendered persons.

Day 3 – I AM
``Last year we premiered our trailer at Kashish, this year it is a proud moment for us to be here at KASHISH 2011 with I AM as the centre piece film,'' said director Onir. He was speaking while introducing his film to a housefull show at Cinemax-Versova on Thursday, the third day of India's biggest LGBT film festival.
Sanjay Suri, who was present with Onir, on his part thanked the 400 persons from across the world who had contributed to make the film. ``This film is a triumph of their belief in us,'' said Sanjay.
Thursday was also a day of films about dealing with loss, finding oneself and having a bit of fun while at it.
The day started off with a package of `Love Stories for Girls'' and ``Be with Me'' - eight short films dealing with the loss of a loved one.
The first of the Red Ribbon Package, presented by UNAIDS, UNDP and DKT India, was the Asian premiere of `We Were Here' - a cinematic tribute to the extraordinary resilience shown by the LGBT community of New York and San Francisco in the 80s and 90s in the face of the AIDS and the tragedy that it brought with it.
``This is my life, I live it every day and it is a tough battle,'' said Vivek Anand, festival director and CEO of Humsafar Trust, drawing parallels with the situation in India, where AIDS is an epidemic ``that shall not be named''.
`In India, gay people are fighting a battle to be accepted. If you are gay and HIV positive, you are fighting two battles,'' said Vivek.
According to Vivek, 15 % of gay men in India are HIV positive, but many are not accessing treatment, despite the availability of drugs, due to the stigma associated with it.
The statistics for the hijra community are more alarming; 49 % of transgendered persons - or one in every two transgendered person - is HIV positive. ``But they are not even allowed into the gates of hospitals to seek treatment. They fight a battle constantly'', said Vivek.
``Everyone says - but we don’t see HIV positive people around. That is because no one talks about it. There is a treatment programme. However, the doctors, health system is not sensitive to the needs of the community to help them access the drugs,'' said Vivek.
``I was deeply moved by the film”, said Festival director Sridhar Rangayan who had first seen the film at the Berlin International Film Festival.” In India people are still in denial. AIDS is an ever present threat and this is one of the reasons we wanted to get it for the festival to start a dialogue,'' said Sridhar.
After ratcheting up the emotions it was time to loosen your hair and chill down - with UK-based director Rikki Beadle-Blair's Kick Off about a gay football team followed by Hollywood director Q. Allan Brocka's Boy Culture.
Both Rikki Beadle-Blair and Q. Allan Brocka had flown down to Mumbai to be at KASHISH and introduce their films.
Day 4 -Family in Frame

``Had it not been ordained it would not have happened. There is a stamp of God on all that is,’’ a mother of a queer child quotes an Urdu couplet in Sonali Gulati’s I AM. For the first time, KASHISH dedicated a day for families and friends of LGBT persons – with a bouquet of films on their trial and tribulations while dealing with the coming out of their loved ones.

KASHISH 2011 on Friday, the fourth day of India’s biggest queer film festival, focussed on the `family’ with three passionate accounts of a F2M, a bisexual and a lesbian and their relationship with their parents. The films were Spiral Transition, Family in Frame and Gulati’s I AM.

This screening was followed by a Panel discussion on Parents of Queers. The panel comprised Ashok Row Kavi, Chitra Palekar, Mona Ambegaonkar and Roy Wadia.

``I knew since I was about 4 years old that I was gay. So I was never complexed about myself but I knew there would be problems with the world at large,’’ said Roy Wadia, brother of pioneering gay film maker the late Riyad Wadia. ``There is so much shame, denial, stigma on homosexuality in our society that many just don’t want to even search for a support system.’’
Speaking about his family, Wadia said, ``In spite of my gayness being so matter of fact for me, for my mother, there is still a big void I feel because my father never accepted it.’’ He, however, added, ``I would encourage everyone to be out. That’s the only way.’’
Chitra Palekar, whose daughter came out to her over a decade ago, said it opened up a whole new world opened up for her. ``The information she shared.. the conversations we have had and continue to have. Ours was a home where everything under the sun – absolutely everything -  was talked about. But from my daughter I realized that homosexuality was perhaps about the only topic never mentioned.’’
Chitra Palekar said parents probably take too much for granted from the moment our child is born.’’ She further said that parents too needed help to come to terms with their child’s sexuality. ``Parents too need a support system to help with learning to accept and embrace one’s children for what they are. I don’t know of other parents in the same situation as myself. I feel lonely today.’’

Actor Mona Ambegaonkar, who has performed in Ek Madhavbaug, about a mother learning of her son’s sexual orientation, said, ``Just as there is so much our parents don’t know about us, there is much we don’t know about them. Often it is only when we challenge them – our families – do we get surprised with the support we do find.’’

Mona questioned the brouhaha surrounding homosexuality. ``License to kill and kill indiscriminately seen in certain communities is far, far more shocking than whether one’s child is gay or not.’’

Gay activist and founder of Humsafar Trust Ashok Row Kavi, first chose to come out to his father. ``I could never have even thought of coming out to my mom; it was my father I came out to – you know, man-to-man talk.’’

Kavi, though, is concerned about the new generation. ``It’s frightening seeing the way many youngsters coming out to their parents these days, doing so without preparing the ground for their folks to deal with the new reality. Even today I’m not so sure you can in real India just hit parents with such information.’’

Kavi, added, ``The question of inheritance continues to be a powerful determining factor in India even today.’’

The day also showcased Q!Shorts – a package of four short films from the Q! Film Festival, Jakarta, curated by John Badalu, who is also a jury member of KASHISH 2011. As part of the spotlight on filmmaker, Q. Allan Brocka’s Eating Out 3: All You Can Eat, was screened.

KASHISH also celebrated Israel’s spirit of harmony by having its first major country focus on queer Israeli cinema, with the screening of seven films from that country.

At Alliance Francaise, the highlight of the day was the Red Ribbon Package, presented by UNAIDS and UNDP, that focussed on films that dealt with the stigma associated with HIV, whether it is in the sprawling city of Seattle (Heart Breaks Open) , or the conservative by lanes of Kolkata (Let There Be Light).

Poster Contest

Wendell Rodricks announces winner of KASHISH 2012 poster contest

The winner of Kashish 2012 Poster Contest has been chosen! The KASHISH Poster designed by S Ayyappa, a young graphic design student from Vijayawada has been picked as the winner by Wendell Rodricks, one of India’s top fashion designers.
Announcing the winner, Wendell Rodricks said, “The winning poster has raced ahead of the rest due to the creative nature of translating the butterfly motif without resorting to the butterfly icon that is part of the Festival motif. That apart, the message is conveyed with clarity, minimalism and dignity - three characteristics I personally cherish, and wish to congratulate the winner for the same.”
The contest to design the official poster for the upcoming 3rd KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival saw a huge number of entries from professional and amateur designers as well as students across India.
S Ayyappa, the young student pursuing his MSc Visual Communication (graphic design) at Andhra Loyala College, Vijayawada, was ecstatic. “I am very happy that my poster won the competition conducted by KASHISH. This is the first national competition that I have participated in and it feels great to enjoy the taste of success. This award will help me to move forward on my way to successful career in design with confidence and support. I really thank KASHISH for giving me this opportunity and my friend Sampath who encouraged me to participate in the competition.”
Speaking of his design he said, “Like the colorful butterfly which travels around, your film festival also reaches many people”
The winner of the poster contest will receive a KASHISH trophy and a gift hamper. The winning design will also be featured on hoardings, print and online advertisements, catalogue covers, banners, cinema slides and delegate cards.
Sridhar Rangayan and Pallav Patankar, Festival Directors of KASHISH 2012 echoed their sentiments.
“The theme for this year’s festival is ‘For Everyone’, which means it has something to offer for everyone – not just for the LGBT community, but also their families, colleagues and friends. The poster contest, which saw entries pouring in from across India, reflected this spirit” said Rangayan, adding, “The contest has achieved what it set out to - not just focus on the metros but also reach out to queer persons in tier 2 and tier 3 cities across India. The winner being from Vijayawada just underscores the reach KASHISH has had in the last two years”.
Patankar agreed to say, “Involving a larger community beyond the LGBT boundaries  and encouraging creative expression of one’s sexuality is what KASHISH has always endeavoured, I am happy that a student has understood this underlying message and has participated in this contest, keeping with this year’s theme of KASHISH 2012 – For Everyone”.
KASHISH 2012, the third edition of the India’s first and only mainstream queer film festival, will be held between May 23-27, 2012 in Mumbai at Cinemax Versova and Alliance Française de Bombay.

left direction
right direction
The Night Is Young (Raat Baaki)
Queens! Destiny of Dance
My Child Is Gay
Bollywood Beats
Breaking The Surface
Burnt Money
Family Khusreyan Di
Is It Just Me ?
The String (Le Fil)
Make The Yuletide Gay

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