Kashish Award Winners and Closing Night

MiUltimo Roundwins Best Feature Film Award at KASHISH 2012

Anupam Kher gives away prizes, promises to sponsor Rs 50kfor prize money next year

Chilean film My Last Round (Mi UltimoRound) directed by Julio Jorquera Arriagada won the Best Feature Film Awardat the 3rd Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival whichconcluded with star studded ceremony on Sunday May 27, 2012.

“Cinema has no boundaries,’’ said ChiefGuest Bollywood actor Anupam Kher who gave away the prize for the Best Film.Kher who had acted as one of the first gay men in Hindi cinema also announcedthat he would sponsor the prize money from next year of Rs 50,000. “Cinema ismeant to break barriers and KASHISH is a wonderful attempt to provide amainstream platform for the LGBT community which is relegated to the margins,’’said Kher. Recalling his struggling years in Bollywood to make it big, Khersaid that his contribution may not be big, “but if films can be made in zerobudget, like I have seen in Kashish, then I would not be surprised if thisamount can produce a blockbuster.’’

‘My Last Round’ is a heartfelt story set inconservative Southern Chile is about a working class relationship between twomen – a boxer and a kitchen assistant. Director Julio Jorquera Arriagada fromChile sent a message, “I am very happy to receive this news, that ‘My LastRound’ is a winner at your festival. I send a big hello from a distance. For meit is an honor to receive this award.”

Kher also gave away the prize for the RiyadWadia Award for Best Emerging Indian Filmmaker, which went to The Night is Young (Raat Baki) directedby Pradipta Ray. Raat Baki deals with three persons – two queer and onestraight – who look for love in the city.

Oscar winning sound designer of SlumdogMillionaire fame Resul Pookutty was the guest of honour on the closing day ofKashish. . “I started off working on small independent films and documentariesfor several years before I got opportunity to work on big films like ‘SlumdogMillionaire’. The passion and spark of independent cinema is outstanding andfilms at Kashish exemplifies this spirit. I have worked on a few documentaries thatdealt with LGBT topics and for me there is no difference in the way I deal withthem. After all it is too a part of human experience,’’ said Resul Pookutty.

The jury comprised of actors Renuka Shahane,Parvin Dabas, Mona Ambegaonkar, theatre producer and actor MahabanooMody-Kotwal and author and film critic Mayank Shekhar.

“Kashish was a wonderful experience –getting to see queer films from around the word. The message in the end was thesame – love,’’ said Renuka Shahane. “Kashish is one of the best organisedfestivals and can compare to the best in India or around the world. The loveand passion with which the festival is organised is laudable,’’ added RenukaShahane. Actor Mona Ambegaonkar, said that she was impressed with the way thatthe festival had grown over the last three years.

Agreed actor Parvin Dabas, “The quality ofmany of the films surprised us – especially their technical finesse and storylines. It was no longer queer cinema for us, only good cinema,’’ said ParvinDabas.

The other films that won awards were: Let theButterflies Fly (Chittegalu Haradali) directed by Gopal Menon won the BestDocumentary Feature award; the American film Rites of Passage by Jeff Roy won aspecial Jury mention in the same category; Are We So Different (Amra Ki EtoiBhinna) a film from Bangladesh directed by Lok Prakash won the Best DocumentaryShort Award, ‘Through The Window ( Me’ever La’chalon)’ by Chen from Israel wonthe Best International Narrative Short.

Award for Kashish Coffee Break OnlineCompetition was won by local filmmaker Nakshatra’s short film ‘Logging Out’ andKashish Poster design Contest was won by Vijayawada based student S.Ayyappa.Both these awards were given away by Resul Pookutty.

The jury decided not to award any prize inthe Best Indian Narrative Short category. “The jury felt that though therewere some good short films, they did not compare well with the calibre of internationalfilms,’’ said Renuka Shahane. “Some of the short films, though made with a lotof passion, seemed more like pamphlets,’’ said jury member Mayank Shekhar.

TheClosing Night also included a graceful mujhra performance by Maya Jafer and ascintillating Kathak and Bollywood song performance by Yuvraaj Parashar andKapil Sharma, actors from the film ‘Dunno Y… Na Jaane Kyon’

The third edition of India’s biggest and onlymainstream LGBT film festival was spread over five days from May 23-May 27, 2012and screened 120 films from 30 countries. “Kashish was an overwhelming experience this year, with a recordturnout of crowds. Audience is the king, they say, and the audience at Kashishtruly appreciate good cinema’’ said festival director Sridhar Rangayan. “Wehave succeeded in our aim to provide a mainstream platform for queer worldcinema as well as Indian films made on queer themes. Queer films and filmmakersneed no longer be on the margins, but is today mainstream,’’ added Rangayan.

“Queer films help us analyse our lives. Theymake us see that one doesn’t have to be a miserable gay man who dies alone, butcan also live happily ever after. If we are able to instil that in ouraudiences, then we at Kashish have achieved our goal,’’ said co festivaldirector Pallav Patankar. He pointed out that while in in the first year in2010, 90 per cent of the funding for Kashish came from UN agencies, in itsthird year this had reduced to 10 per cent, with 90 per cent of the fundscoming from corporates. “This will help us achieve our long term goal ofmaking this festival financially sustainable,’’ said Patankar.

Roy Wadia of the Heroes Project, which hadsponsored the closing ceremony of KASHISH felt that the festival was a greatLGBT community initiative. “At Heroes Project we have found that if one canbring people together through the medium of fun like Kashish, we can strengthenthe community and spread more awareness on issues like HIV and discriminationagainst LGBT persons,’’ said Wadia.

Hollywood gay filmmaker Rob Williams who wasthe Filmmaker in Focus at KASHISH said that it was a tremendous honour for him.“I have been to a lot of queer film festivals around the world and they canlearn something from the way Kashish is organised. It is wonderful. All mymovies are about finding love, happiness and happily ever after and theresponse I have received from Mumbai is overwhelming,’’ said Rob Williams, whoalso screened a two minute scene from his forth coming movie The Men Next Door.