In conversation with Festival Director Sridhar Rangayan on the challenges in organizing a LGBT film festival – South Asia’s largest – in India and the half-a-decade journey of the festival.
When you begin something challenging, especially in difficult circumstances, you never know where it will lead to or will it ever sustain. Founding KASHISH in 2010 as a mainstream LGBT film festival, and organizing it on an international scale was a daunting task. But, support came from various quarters – from filmmakers and distributors, to the Indian film industry, to development sector organizations, cultural institutions & corporate, and of course a large turnout of not just LGBT audiences, but mainstream audiences.
Over the past four years, KASHSIH has grown in scale to become South Asia’s biggest queer film festival. Everyone in Mumbai and across the world now believes KASHISH is here to stay.
KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is an attempt to encourage greater visibility of Indian and International queer cinema among both queer and mainstream audiences as a means to foster better understanding of queer thoughts, desires and expressions. Festival BackgroundThe Indian queer landscape is undergoing historic changes.
After the landmark 2009 judgement on Sec 377 by Delhi High Court, effectively decriminalizing homosexuality, there was an environment of more openness to have discussions around LGBT issues. On December 11, 2013, the Supreme Court reversed the Delhi High Court verdict, thereby re-criminalizing homosexuality. This decision of the Indian Supreme Court is indeed a big setback to the nascent queer rights movement in the country. The verdict makes lesbian-gay-bisexual and transgender persons vulnerable to not just penal action of imprisonment but also extortion, blackmail and social stigma.KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival stands firmly with the global outrage against section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and will work with queer and civil rights organizations to ensure that the law is repealed. KASHISH also believes that films and art are a powerful medium to bring about social change.Since its debut in 2010, KASHISH has emerged as South Asia's and India's biggest LGBT film festival. We are committed to bring the best of international and Indian queer cinema to Mumbai and continue mainstreaming of queer issues and their lives.Festival NameKASHISH which means 'attraction or allurement' in Urdu does not have a gender or sexuality construct and is used to denote a deep attraction for anything – be it a person, an object or an idea. Mumbai is the cinema capital of India as well as the city with the most vibrant & visible queer community.
International, because the festival not only represents films from all over the world, but also films that mirror global concerns and expressions.Queer is an umbrella term that includes gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans people.Film Festival, that’s what KASHISH MIQFF is all about - films that explore the diverse realities, complexities, joys and sorrows that make up the global queer experience as well as celebrate queer identities in an entertaining manner.
Festival LogoThe butterflies in rainbow colours symbolize the spirit of queer persons breaking out of the cocoon of social mores and flying free.