KASHISH 2014 opens in style at Mumbai's iconic theatre

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Noted filmmakers Aruna Raje and Onir, actors Nitish Bharadwaj and Avantika Akerkar at the opening of film festival

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Liberty Theatre sports the Rainbow flag for KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film festival 2014

The fifth edition of Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film festival got off to a dazzling start with a star-studded opening ceremony and the screening of the Opening Film `Out In The Dark’’. South Asia’s and India’s biggest LGBT film festival will be held between May 21-25 at Mumbai’s iconic art deco theatre Liberty Cinema and Alliance Francaise.

“Films really break barriers. Kashish is a vehicle to understand, appreciate and touch each other’s hearts and minds, change the society’s attitudes towards a community through the medium of films,” said noted filmmaker Aruna Raje, who lit the ceremonial lamp along with theatre actor Dolly Thakore, Meghna Ghai Puri, President of Whistling Woods International and Roy Wadia, Director of Wadia Movietone.

Dolly Thakore, who has been associated with the festival, the first year as a Jury member and at present as part of the advisory board,  said that she was amazed at the way KASHISH had grown from strength to strength every year and had taken it to a different level by having the iconic Liberty as its venue.

``Salvation comes through liberation and love and love, is like any other human emotion and one cannot be discriminated on the basis of who one chooses to love,’’ said Nitish Bharadwaj, actor and former Member of Parliament, who is part of the jury at Kashish this year.

Filmmaker Onir, whose film I AM won the National Award and who is also a part of the jury, spoke about his relationship with KASHISH  said, `` I have been a part of Kashish sometimes as a panelist and at other times as a filmmaker to showcase my films. It really feels special to be a part of the jury. As a filmmaker I do not want to see my films only on YouTube. And Kashish is the only place where queer cinema can be seen on such a grand scale in a mainstream theatre.”

Actor Avantika Akerkar, who is a jury member, said that everyone had a commitment of taking the festival outside to the mainstream. Costume designer Pia Benegal, another jury member said that the festival offers a platform to see films on LGBT themes that finds it difficult to find avenues to exhibit their films.

Festival director Sridhar Rangayan said that he came from a small town in South India and had grown up feeling the stigma because of a different sexual orientation. ``We have reached a time when there is no shame  in being an LGBT person and a film festival like KASHISH helps further the cause of fighting stigma and discrimination. The festival this year at Liberty Cinema is comparable to international LGBT film festivals,’’ added Rangayan.

Pallav Pattankar, Director of HIV Programs at the Humsafar Trust, the co-organizer of the film festival said, “There is kind of a poetic justice attached to KASHISH that months after the re-criminalization of homosexuality, we are celebrating the festival at a theatre named ‘Liberty’.”

The festival this year was funded by corporate India, development agencies and a successful crowdfunding campaign which saw people contributing to make the festival happen.

``IBM believes in equality and our support for KASHISH is a way to stand with the LGBT community,’’ said Tara Chattopadhyay, 

Parmesh Shahani, head of Godrej India Culture Lab, a division of Godrej which is one of the Associate Partners, said, ``I am extremely proud to be here on behalf of Godrej as an associate sponsor of the festival. Our company believes in creating safe and inclusive working space and creativity and we would want other corporates to adapt a similar policy.”

Meghna Ghai said, “Whistling Woods is an institution where we believe in equality and do not discriminate anyone on any grounds. The moment I received a phone call regarding this project, it took me less than 30 seconds to say yes. I instantly knew that I want to be a part of this.” Whistling Woods is one of the Supporting Partners of the festival.

The opening night, hosted by actors Dodo Bhujwala and Devika Sahani, had performances by contemporary-Kathak artist  Dr. Sunil Sunkara, an excerpt from ‘Dushyantpriya’ directed by Sarang Bhakre – a queer adaptation of Kalidas’ ‘Abhignyanashakuntalam’ and a dance performance by Bhavin Gala’s troupe.

This year, the country in focus is Canada as it is one of the earliest countries in the world to implement anti-discrimination policies and to legalize same-sex marriages. Richard Bale, the Consul General of Canada happily announced the recent pact signed between Canada and India due to which artistic collaboration will be easier between the two countries. He said, “In the next two years, I hope to see a lot more Indo-Canadian productions at Kashish.”

The opening night film, Michael Mayer’s ‘Out in the Dark’, which is a moving love story between a Palestinian student and an Israeli lawyer under the turbulent socio-political environment, almost ran a full house 

Voted as one of the Top 5 coolest LGBT film festivals in the world, Kashish returns with its fifth year at Liberty theatre. The KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival will take place between May 21 - May 25, 2014, at the iconic Liberty Cinema, New Marine Lines and Alliance Française de Bombay (AFB).

The festival this year will screen the largest collection of films so far – 154 films from 31 countries.

The festival’s theme this year is “Dare To Dream” and recognizes the progressive movements for equality and dignity for gay, lesbian and transgender persons across the world, including India. KASHISH 2014 will highlight, reflect upon and celebrate the people, communities and movements that ‘Dare To Dream’.

                                                        

Spot registrations at Liberty Cinema, New Marine Lines and Alliance Francaise (for AF members who wish to obtain the One Venue AF Delegate card)

 

Festival Website: http://www.mumbaiqueerfest.com/ | Festival Blog: http://kashishmiqff.blogspot.com/

 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Kashish.MIQFF | Twitter: https://twitter.com/KashishMIQFF

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