Bollywood actress Celina Jaitley and noted film maker Shyam Benegal today announced Kashish 2011 – the second edition of India’s biggest queer film festival that focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender films. Celina Jaitley is KASHISH’s Festival Ambassador and Shyam Benegal, the Festival Patron. Sai Paranjpye, actors Shernaz Patel and Samir Soni, filmmaker and critic Khalid Mohamed were also present at the press conference held at the Press Club.
The film festival will be held at two venues – Cinemax Versova, Andheri West and Alliance Francaise, Marine Lines in Mumbai – between May 25 to May 29, and will feature 124 films from 23 countries.
The jury comprises of filmmaker Sai Paranjpye, actors Shernaz Patel and Samir Soni, filmmaker and critic Khalid Mohamed and for the first time an international festival director John Badalu from Indonesia.
Speaking on the occasion, Celina Jaitley, said: “I am very happy to be associated with KASHISH for the second year as its Ambassador. KASHISH is a great platform to uphold human rights and dignity for all, which is what I strongly believe in too. KASHISH is a celebration of the equality of all human emotions irrespective of sex, creed, race and culture.
“KASHISH also gives an opportunity to young budding filmmakers to showcase their talents especially in India where there is a lack of a platform for showcasing independent films.” She further added.
Shyam Benegal says, “All minorities in this country need representation and sexual minorities is one of them. KASHISH is a move in the right direction to create awareness through the medium of films. It is a step forward in the gay movement.”
When someone asked that by having such a festival, aren’t we bringing down the Indian culture; Sai Paranjpye quipped in Marathi “Aji Baat nahi (Not at all!) Such people who feel this way are hypocrites and I hope that initiatives like KASHISH will stop people from asking such questions.”
Samir Soni, who is a jury member at KASHISH, said: “I am surprised and appalled that even in 2011 people have such negative attitudes to alternate sexuality. I was very happy to see some good films at the jury screening, which are not just issue-focused, but good cinema.”
Khalid Mohamed said, “I am here at KASHISH, because I just want to watch good films, their theme is incidental. I would view the films like I would as a jury member at any festival.”
On the occasion, Sridhar Rangayan, Festival Director said: “The festival offers cinema as a means to understand what being queer means today, and how it impacts both the queer community and the society at large and fosters better understanding of queer thoughts, desires and expressions.”
“The festival this year is bigger, bolder and queerer. We have a bigger theater with twice the seating capacity, we have more films and better films, we have international filmmakers coming to the festival and we have lots of allied activities. Last year we had 1200 people coming to KASHISH, this year we expect 2500. Next week, KASHISH is ‘the place’ to be. Everyone is invited,” added Rangayan.
Vivek Anand, Festival Director said, “Kashish in its second edition is making efforts to become self sustainable and has got private sponsors like DKT to come in as its main partner for the festival. Also to encourage larger participation we have ensured that delegate registrations and entry to the festival is kept free for all Kashish film festival lovers but everyone has to be pre-registered by filling out a form and getting a delegate card.”
Kashish 2010 was the first mainstream queer film festival held in India. It brought together 110 Indian and international queer films on one platform. KASHISH 2011 promises to be an event to remember for both LGBT and mainstream audiences. It will be a time to watch loads and loads of gay, lesbian, bisexual transgender films, engage in discussions, interact with celebrities, Indian and international filmmakers, participate in cultural activities and have a FABULOUS time!
Key Highlights for this year will be:
– This year, the ‘Country Focus‘ will be on Israel with more than 7 films from there
– Spotlight on ‘Filmmaker‘ will shine on US filmmaker Q. Allan Brocka and UK filmmaker Rikki Beadle-Blair with their funny, sexy and thought provoking films. Both the filmmakers are traveling to India for the very first time to be present at KASHISH.
– Special package of sensitive, dramatic and touching features and shorts on HIV/AIDS is introduced under ‘Red Ribbon Films’ package
– The “competition section” will showcase films which will be judged by an eminent international jury Panel.
– ‘Riyad Wadia award for Indian emerging filmmaker’ is instituted this year with a cash award of Rs.10,000.
The Best Indian queer short film at KASHISH gets to compete for the Iris Prize in UK which carries a cash prize of 25,000 pounds.
The Indian queer landscape is undergoing historic changes: Pride parades in all the metros, the Delhi High Court’s landmark verdict on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, re-launch of ‘first gay magazine Bombay Dost, the Indian Election Commission’s decision to recognize transgender as a separate category – all these have increased queer visibility both in the media and in mainstream society. KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival takes this journey further through the medium of films.