Moushumi Chatterjee, SaiParanjpye inaugurate KASHISH 2012

Moushumi Chatterjee, SaiParanjpye inaugurate KASHISH 2012

Yesteryear’s Bollywood actress MoushumiChatterjee and noted filmmaker Sai Paranjpye  threwopen the 3rd Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festivalin a star studded read carpet event at Cinemax Versova on Wednesday.

“I wish Kashish all the success,’’ said Moushumi Chatterjee, who also inauguratedan art exhibition `Celebrating the lost art of Bollywood billboards with aqueer twist’. “We are all human and we are one. I am happy to be here forKashish. The greatest gift of humanity is the ability to love and I do notbelieve that love should be the reason to discriminate against anyone,’’ addedMoushumi Chatterjee.

SaiParanjpye said that it was the second consecutive year that she was part of thefestival – in 2011 she headed the jury – and was impressed with the stridesthat the festival had taken in the last three years. “I am happy to be hereand be a part of this exciting movement. It is completely mesmerising. I wishKashish the best of everything and a lot of luck,’’ said Sai Paranjpye who litthe ceremonial lamp to declare the festival open along with gay activist andfounder of Humsafar Trust Ashok Row Kavi.

Richard Seeley, Managing Directorat Barclays, one of the sponsors of the of the festival said: “We are here tosupport this since the philosophy of the festival fits in perfectly with thephilosophy of our company. Equality in opportunity and equality in life arevery similar prospects.’’

Thethird edition of India’s biggest film festival that focusses on lesbian, gay,bisexual and transgender themes, will be held at two venues from May 23-27,2012, at Cinemax Versova in Andheri West and Alliance Francaise at New MarineLines.

`We havea platform and we believe in good cinema. Cinemax is am happy to host Kashishfor the second time in a row. This is our way of giving back to the societywhat we have,’’ said Hiral Kanakia of Cinemax.

The galastar-studded red carpet opening saw people from the film, theatre and modellingworld, including actors Suchitra Pillai, Liliput, Dolly Thakore, Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal,Mona Ambegoankar, Parvin Dabas, filmmaker Anant Mahadevan, Parvati Balgopalanand television actor Russshad Rana.

Theopening ceremony was swept in some Maharashtrian tadka with a scintillatingLavni performance by the troupe Dancing Queens – a group that raises fundsthrough dance for HIV positive and destitute transgennders. The event also sawperformance by city-based band Fungus. There was also a surprise in store asSouth Asia’s largest flash mob, which had performed at Marine Drive earlierthis year turned up even as a video of their last appearance was being playedon the screen.

Theopening ceremony was followed by the screening and Indian Premier of Oscarwinning film Beginners starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer.

SaritaJoshi, the beloved Baa from the popular television serial Baa, Bahu aur Babyand a well-known stage, television and film actress was the Guest of Honour “Asan artist, I am here to extend my encouragement and love. At first people werescared even to address members of the LGBT community but now at least they havea name, `Gay’. There is immense lack of awareness and misconceptions in oursociety about LGBT persons and Kashish is a great medium to address those,’’said Sarita Joshi, who stars in Bollywood Beats, which will bescreened at the festival.

The juryfor the festival comprises actors/ directors Renuka Sahane and Parvin Dabas,theatre actor Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, television actress Mona Ambegaonkar, andfilm critic/ author Mayank Shekhar.

Festivaldirector Sridhar Rangayan said that in its third year Kashish had grown biggermuch beyond expectations. “I salute all the filmmakers from around the globe who make queer films, because I as a filmmaker know how difficult it is to make one; to bring in the resources, to produce and to distribute it. It is amazing that filmmakers continue to make these films against all odds and amidst many challenges. Kashish is a platform to bring together filmmakersfrom around the world to showcase independent films made on themes away fromthe mainstream. It also is a platform for Indian filmmakers who make films onqueer themes to reach out to a larger audience,’’ said Rangayan. This year thefestival received 300 entries from around the world out of which 120 films from30 countries have been short-listed.  Around 25 % of the films that willbe screened are from India, including four regional feature films.

PallavPatankar, the co-festival director said that Kashish which had its theme of`For Everyone’ this year will screen films not only meant for the LGBTcommunity, but also for their families and friends. He added that over the lastthree years, KASHISH had also started attracting corporate support. “In ourfirst year over 90 per cent of the funding was from UN agencies. This year 90per cent of the funds have come from corporate sponsors, and 10 per cent fromUN agencies,’’ said Patankar.

“Bringin all your family and friends to watch these movies as movies and not queermovies,’’ said Mona Ambegaonkar, one of the jury members, a sentiment echoed byfellow jury member Parvin Dabas. “People should watch these movies as cinemaand not ‘queer’ cinema. This is what i realized while watching the movies. Itis Human Cinema where the characters just happen to be gay. The quality of allthese movies surprised us,’’ said Parvin Dabas.

Over theperiod of next four days, Kashish will showcase films on issues and rightsrelated to the LGBT community and their families. Apart from film screenings,the festival will also feature panel discussions with filmmakers, interactionwith celebrities and much more.

KASHISHMumbai International Queer Film Festival is the first and only gay &lesbian film festival in India to be held in a mainstream theatre and the onlyqueer festival to receive clearance from the Ministry of Information andBroadcasting. The festival is organized by Solaris Pictures and Bombay Dost inassociation with The Humsafar Trust.

Key Highlights for this year will be:

* 120 films from 30 countries

* India Focus – Regional Films: Four queer feature films from India infour regional languages – Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil/Kannada and Hindi.

* Country Focus – France: A special package of two feature length andsix short films showcasing the best of contemporary French queer cinema.

* Filmmaker in Focus – Rob Williams: US filmmaker Rob Williams, who hasmade popular gay romantic comedies and dramas is traveling to India to presenthis films at KASHISH.

* Special package of sensitive, dramatic and touching features andshorts on HIV/AIDS is introduced under ‘Red Ribbon Films’ package.

* Short film packages like Rainbow Warriors (about queer people who havemade a difference), Indian Masala Mix (exciting shorts by young Indianfilmmakers) and UnFair Games about homophobia in sports.

* Q-Toons – A special package of gay animation films.

* Panel discussions, book readings, interactions with filmmakers andeven an Art Corner.

* The “competition section’’ will showcase films which will be judgedby an eminent panel of Jury members.

* The Best Indian queer short film at KASHISH gets to compete for theIris Prize in UK which carries a cash prize of 25,000 pounds.

* ‘Riyad Wadia award for Indian emerging filmmaker’ with a cash award ofRs.10,000.

* BestFeature Film will win a cash award of Rs 15,000 sponsored by Time Out.