This year the preview team had the unenviable task of sorting from 300 odd films that had poured in – the highest till date and choosing the best of the lot. Some good films made it worth their while.
For Arindam Ghatak, a film editor based in Mumbai, it was his second consecutive year on the preview team. ``I have thoroughly enjoyed watching and discussing queer-related films from around the world. Many of the films, for their sheer imaginative and craftsmanship skills, have been a source of much inspiration,’’ said Ghatak.
A Film and Television Institute of India, Pune graduate and a former journalist with the Indian Express, Ghatak has edited feature films like Shimit Amin's Rocket Singh, Salesman of the Year, Teen Thay Bhai (produced by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and PVR Pictures), Tanuja Chandra's Raakh (to be released), Go Goa Gone by Krishna DK and Raj Nidimoru (to be released) and several award-winning documentaries. He has also extensively collaborated with artist Neha Choksi on her art projects and video installations which were shown in major art galleries in India and abroad.
``Sexuality and sexual orientation is a territory that needs courage, warmth, and often humour, to be explored honestly in cinema and the wide range of films that are sent to the festival with their myriad story-telling techniques are mostly bang-on in this respect,’’ he said.
Asked for his choice of must-watch films this year, without hesitation he said: ``Two lovely films actually- the German feature Men to Kiss, a dark, funny, expressionistic rom-com; and the Brazilian short More or Less, a taut love-story with an ever-simmering sexual undercurrent and a kick-ass ending, the film almost plays out like a dream.’’
Despite the long hours spend watching films on weekends, Ashish Sawhny enjoyed the whole process. ``It was an extremely fun and absorbing process that was enjoyable,’’ said Sawhny, who studied Film & Drama at the University of Reading, UK and has been a director, producer and actor - producing and directing commercials, corporate and public service films for over a decade in Mumbai. Happy Hookers was his first independent documentary feature-that has been screened at over 30 international festivals- and since then, he has been involved with feature documentaries from across the globe.
``It was fantastic being on the preview team.’’ says Abha Talasera, another preview team member. Abha holds a Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Leeds, with a specialization in Hindi cinema. She has previously worked with London-based Enlightenment Productions, and has worked on documentaries like The House of Tomorrow. She was also involved with development the webseries I Cant Think Straight and the feature film Despite the Falling Snow.
``I saw some really diverse films, expressing different voices - some political, some romantic, some funny, some happy, sad or purely emotional. It was a great learning experience as well especially about queer lives and culture outside of India,’’ says Abha, who too picked Men To Kiss as one of the best films to watch out for at KASHISH this year.
Freshly out of XIC, Prashansa Gurung, a young out and proud bisexual woman, is still getting over the excitement of being part of the KASHISH preview team. ``My personal favourite was a short film called Half. There’s a saying that there is someone made for everyone and your other half is somewhere out there in the world. But how much time does life/fate give us to meet and interact with our other half? One second and poof, you miss that moment. For a romantic like me, the film was reassuring to say the least. It’s a must watch. Hope everyone catches it when it is screened during Kashish.’’