It's hard to choose from 132 films. Here are ten not to be missed films at India’s and South Asia’s biggest and only mainstream LGBT film festival.
102 min | 2011|Farsi with EST |Iran
Rana is a conservative young mother, who secretly drives a cab to support her family to pay off the debts, which have sent her husband to prison. By chance she picks up Edi, who is fleeing an arranged marriage, her wealthy and influential father is imposing on her. She is desperately waiting for her passport to leave the country. In the middle of the journey, Rana realizes that her passenger is a transgender (female to male)who is planning on having an operation. For Rana, comprehending and accepting such a reality is close to impossible and surpasses all the beliefs and traditions she values. It’s a clash of class and belief systems. But soon enough the two form an unlikely alliance.
Facing Mirrors is the first narrative film from Iran to feature a transgender main character.
KEEP THE LIGHTS ON
Director: Ira Sachs
2012 | 101 min | English, Danish with EST | USA
Documentary filmmaker Erik, and closeted lawyer Paul, meet through a casual encounter and soon become a couple. As the two men start building a home and life together, each continues to privately battle their own compulsions and addictions. In an almost decade-long relationship defined by highs, lows and dysfunctional patterns, Erik struggles to negotiate his own boundaries and dignity and to be true to himself. A film about sex, friendship, intimacy and most of all, love. It takes an honest look at the nature of relationships in our times.
Keep the Lights On is shot with a grainy beauty that resonates with the texture of New York City, accentuated by pulsating and soulful music.
Keep The Lights On chronicles the emotionally and sexually charged journey of two men in ‘90s New York.
Director: Michael Akers
2011 | 89 min | English | USA
Narrative Feature | Asian Premiere |In Competition
A wipeout during a bike race broke Morgan Oliver's back and paralyzed him from the waist down. He is frustrated that his new life in a wheelchair has put limits on his fiercely competitive nature and his previously wide-ranging mobility. However a chance encounter with sensitive ex-inmate Dean Kagen makes Morgan more determined that being in a wheelchair will not change him. Dean supports Morgan when he decides to enter as a wheelchair competitor in the same bike race using a customized bike. As Dean helps Morgan train, a romance blossoms between them.But when Morgan risks his life to win and Dean walks out, Morgan is pushed to the brink, teetering between what he wants and what he needs.
Director: Jeffrey Schwarz
2011 | 93 min | English | USA
Documentary Feature| Indian Premiere
VITO is one man’s story of fighting passionately for equality, but at its core, it is the story of a movement. In the aftermath of Stonewall, a newly politicizedVito Russo found his voice as a gay activist andcritic of LGBT representation in the media. Hewent on to write “The Celluloid Closet,” the firstbook to critique Hollywood’s portrayals of gayson screen. During the AIDS crisis in the 1980s,Vito became a passionate advocate for justice viathe newly formed ACT UP, before his death in1990.
The film seamlessly weaves significant archival material and heartwarming interviews with Vito’s family and friends including Armistead Maupin, Lily Tomlin, Bruce Vilanch and Larry Kramer.
A PERFECT ENDING
Director: Nicole Conn
110 min / 2012 / English / USA
Narrative Feature|Indian Premiere | In Competition
Rebecca, a repressed and uptight socialite lives a perfect life. She is the ideal wife to her husband and mother to three grown-up, accomplished children. Rebecca also has a very unusual secret. The last person on earth she expects to reveal it tois a high priced escort named Paris. Her journey from perfect control to unbridled passion allows Rebecca not only to reclaim worthless years, but to redeem and vindicate painful regrets.
This opposites-attract, edge-of-your-seat lesbian romance is a glossy, sexy and funny romantic drama guaranteed to earn new fans for veteran writer-director Nicole Conn (Elena Undone, screened at KASHISH 2011).
CALL ME KUCHU
Director: Katherine Fairfax Wright &MalikaZouhali-Worrall
2012 | 87 min | English, Luganda with EST | USA, Uganda
In Uganda, a new bill threatens to make homosexuality punishable by death. David Kato –Uganda’s first openly gay man – and his fellow activists work against the clock to defeat the legislation. In spite of a daily routine that includes constant threat of violence by Christian fanatics and local newspapers outing and shaming known gays, Kato and his fellow comrades-in-arms somehow remain resilient and full of hope. They fight to repeal their country’s homophobic laws that persecute Kato’s fellow LBGT citizens –called “kuchus”. But no one is prepared for the brutal murder that shakes their movement to its core and sends shockwaves around the world.
...AND THE UNCLAIMED (…EbangBewarish)
61 min| 2012 |Bengaliwith EST | India
Documentary Feature | WorldPremiere | In Competition
On February 21, 2011, two young girls commit suicide together in Nandigram, a village in West Bengal, India. The suicide note of one of the girls unfolds their love affair and the violence they faced by society and their own families. Even after they die, their bodies remain ‘unclaimed’ by their families at the police morgue despite their last wish to be cremated together.
The film questions the non-acceptance of non-normative living by connecting the tales of the film’s four protagonists living as misfits. The film explores the connection of the painful tales of desolation of living persons with the ‘unclaimed’ dead ones. A tribute both to life and death: If we want to keep the dead alive within us, their death will become part of our living.
UNITED IN ANGER: A HISTORY OF ACT UP
Director: Jim Hubbard
93 min / 2012 / English / USA
Documentary Feature| Indian Premiere
Formed In 1987, AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) is an International direct action advocacy group working to impact the lives of people with AIDS and ultimately bring an end to the disease by mitigating loss of health and lives.
United In Anger combines startling archival footage putting the audience on the ground with activists, and interviews from the ACT UP Oral History Project to explore how a small group of men and women across races, classes and sexualities came together to change the world and save each other’s lives. The film takes the viewer through the planning and execution of exhilarating major actions including Seize Control of the FDA, Stop the Church, and Day of Desperation, with a timeline of many of the other zaps and actions that forced the US government and mainstream media to deal with the AIDS crisis.
United In Anger reveals the group’s complex culture – meetings, affinity groups, and approaches to civil disobedience mingle with profound grief, sexiness, and the incredible energy of ACT UP.
Director: Guillaume Giovanetti, CaglaZencirci
2012 | 79 min | Urdu, Punjabi with EST | France, Pakistan
Noor feels he doesn’t belong anymore to the ‘Khusras’, Pakistan’s transgender community. And he is definitely done with the love story he had with one of them, that had drastically changed his life. Now, he is doing a man’s job in a truck decoration centre and is determined to find a girl who will accept him as he is.
A sudden turn of circumstances makes him runaway with a truck. He heads off for the Swat valley. In his flight from civilization he meets a female dancer who may inspire him in classical dance and love.
The film was extensively shot in Pakistan at Rawalpindi, Lahore, the Karakoram highway, Gilgit, the Hunza Valley and the picturesque Shandoor Lake.
THE MEN NEXT DOOR
Director: Rob Williams
84 min / 2012 / English / USA
Narrative Feature | Asian Premiere
Hot pilates-instructor, Doug is about to turn forty and all his friends have abandoned him on the big day. As he reluctantly celebrates his birthday, Doug finds himself falling for two very different but equally lovable men - Jacob, a secure 50-year-old who came out later in life, and Colton, an adventurous 30-year-old who literally is the boy next door. How long can Doug juggle both relationships before everyone finds out the truth?