Shyam Benegal announces KASHISH 2012

Shyam Benegal announces KASHISH 2012

Noted filmmaker Shyam Benegalon Friday announced KASHISH 2012 – the third edition of India’s biggest queerfilm festival that focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender films.

“It is marvellous to see how Kashish has grown over the last threeyears but more important is its mainstream acceptance. Today KASHISH has becomean important event in the mainstream cultural space in Mumbai,’’ said Benegal,who is the Festival patron and has been associated with Kashish for the lastthree years. “LGBT persons are still looked on as different and in manysocieties as criminals. Movies are a great way of communication and breakingthese stereotypes,’’ said Benegal at a press conference.

Kashish 2012’s trailer was also unveiled at the press conference.

Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival this year will be heldbetween May 23-27, 2012 at two venues – Cinemax Versova in Andheri West andAlliance Francaise at New Marine Lines. The festival will feature 120 filmsfrom 30 countries.

Sarita Joshi, the beloved Baa from the popular television serial Baa,Bahu aur Baby and a well-known stage, television and film actress said this washer first time on the stage of Kashish and she was very happy to be associatedwith the event.  “As an artist, I am here to extend my encouragement andlove. At first people were scared even to address members of the LGBT communitybut now at least they have a name, `Gay’. There is immense lack of awarenessand misconceptions in our society about LGBT persons and Kashish is a greatmedium to address those,’’ said Sarita Joshi, who stars in Bollywood Beats,which will be screened at the festival.

The jury for the festival was announced and comprises actors/ directorsRenuka Sahane and Parvin Dabas, theatre actor Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, televisionactress Mona Ambegaonkar, and film critic/ author Mayank Shekhar.

Renuka Sahane said that she was extremely proud to be a part of Kashish.“I have known a lot of people who hold innumerable fears, suspicions andquestions about sexual minorities. All these become the roots of aggression.Art can be used as the means to address the root of this problem. I am sure theemotional, thought-provoking and entertaining films at KASHISH will touch uponimportant aspects of lives of LGBT persons and enrich each one who watches it,’’said Renuka Shahane, remembered as a TV host of Surabhi and Close up Antakshariand her role in the blockbuster film Hum Aapke Hain Kaun.

Parvin Dabas who made his debut in Monsoon Weddings and is alsoone of the jury members drew a parallel between cinema and sexuality. “Cinemaand sexuality are, both, about fighting for your freedom of expression,’’ saidParvin Dabas. He spoke about movie World Unseen, which had screened atKashish last year. ” We need to open people’s mind ‘so that they can see peopleas people’, apart from their sexuality,’’ said Parvin Dabas.

Mona Ambegaonkar with her exuberant and impregnable voice recited a fewlines from the play ‘Ek Madhav Baug” which deals with a mother coming to termswith her son’s sexuality. “Each one of us is a minority as an individual.Kashish is a buland awaz (strong voice) which dares to ask questions,’’said Mona Ambegaonkar.

Mayank Shekhar, noted film critic, confessed that when he was asked towatch so many movies of the same genre as a jury member he had feared monotony,boredom and predictability to set in. “To my surprise, I realized that thetheme was irrelevant. Each film was different. They are movies with actualemotions, romance and an enticing storyline. If you replaced the two men with aman and a woman, you wouldn’t even know it’s a queer film,’’ said MayankShekhar. According to Mayank, art abets normalisation of our perceptions, makesthings seem acceptable. “Cinema is an optimal manner of dealing with issuesconcerning societal acceptance of sexual minorities,’’ said Mayank.

Festival director Sridhar Rangayan said that in its third year Kashishhad grown bigger much beyond expectations. “Kashish is an attempt at bringingqueer cinema from around the world to Indian audiences, showcasing a genre ofmovies which generally is inaccessible to the mainstream audience. It also is aplatform for Indian filmmakers who make films on queer themes to reach out to alarger audience,’’ said Rangayan. This year the festival received 300 entriesfrom around the world out of which 120 films from 30 countries have beenshort-listed.  Around 25 % of the films that will be screened are fromIndia, including four regional feature films.

Pallav Patankar, the co-festival director said that Kashish which hadits theme of `For Everyone’ this year will screen films not only meant for theLGBT community, but also for their families and friends. He added that over thelast three years, KASHISH had also started attracting corporate support. “Inour first year over 90 per cent of the funding was from UN agencies. This year90 per cent of the funds have come from corporate sponsors, and 10 per centfrom UN agencies,’’ said Patankar.

Vivek Anand, CEO of Humsafar Trust, which is one of the organisers ofthe festival along with Solaris Pictures and Bombay Dost, said that theInformation and Broadcasting Ministry had given their approval for the festivalthis year too – the only queer film festival in India to get such permission.“The film festival is a voice of the LGBT community we are indebted to thesystem to have allowed us to take it to the masses,’’ said Anand.

The festival will open on May 23, 2012 with theOscar-winning film Beginners –Christopher Plummer won the 2012 Academy Award for the Best Supporting Actor,besides winning the Golden Globes and Bafta awards. Over the period of nextfour days, Kashish will showcase films on issues and rights related to the LGBTcommunity and their families. Apart from film screenings, the festival willalso feature panel discussions with filmmakers, interaction with celebritiesand 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 forthis year will be:

·        IndiaFocus – Regional Films: Four queer feature films from India in four regionallanguages – Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil/Kannada and Hindi.

·        CountryFocus – France: A special package of two feature length and six short filmsshowcasing the best of contemporary French queer cinema.

·        Filmmakerin Focus – Rob Williams: US filmmaker Rob Williams, who has made popular gayromantic comedies and dramas is traveling to India to present his films atKASHISH.

·        Specialpackage of sensitive, dramatic and touching features and shorts on HIV/AIDS isintroduced under ‘Red Ribbon Films’ package.

·        Shortfilm packages like Rainbow Warriors (about queer people who have made adifference), Indian Masala Mix (exciting shorts by young Indian filmmakers) andUnFair Games about homophobia in sports.

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

·        Paneldiscussions, book readings, interactions with filmmakers and even an ArtCorner.

·        The“competition section’’ will showcase films which will be judged by an eminentpanel of Jury members.

·        TheBest Indian queer short film at KASHISH gets to compete for the Iris Prize inUK which carries a cash prize of 25,000 pounds.

·        ‘RiyadWadia award for Indian emerging filmmaker’ with a cash award of Rs.10,000.

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