Ever since its first edition in 2010, the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival has been all about attracting the queer as well as non-queer crowd. Now in its third year, the “for everyone” tag persists and so does the wide selection of films. There are debut films with unknown protagonists such as Mohammed To Maya – about a sex change operation – and about gay personalities like poet and writer William S Burroughs. There is also a set of nine queer-themed cartoons.
Festival director Sridhar Rangayan said that this year, 40 films by first-time filmmakers will be shown. Rangayan, festival co-director Pallav Patankar and festival programmer Saagar Gupta told Time Out about the concerns of Indian queer filmmakers and the highlights of this year’s event.
What changes have you noticed in the Indian film submissions?
Saagar Gupta: The number of Indian film submissions has been constant, but there is a growth in the genres and themes. Documentaries on transgenders are still widely made, but now films about other segments are also emerging. In this year’s line-up, Raat Baaki and Relations deal with the intricacies of a relationship while Ahm! has a very esoteric take on being comfortable in your own skin. Another short film, After Party, will just bowl everyone over with its witty spin.
This year's highlights?
SG: Apart from our opening and closing night features, we have some interesting French films, both features as well as short films, as part of our Country Focus. There are bio-pic features like William S Burroughs: A Man Within, a documentary about the life and work of the writer, and Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story, an inspiring narrative drama about four-times gold medal winner Olympic diver who is gay and tested HIV positive. Maintaining this year’s theme “For Everyone” we have made a conscious effort to create an interesting line-up encompassing everyone. So we even have films featuring differently abled individuals as queer protagonists like the 2011 Iris Prize winner, I Don’t Want To Go Back Alone, a Brazilian short film with a blind lead, and Austin Unbound, about a deaf transgender. Also, this year we have a package of films dealing with homophobia in sports that includes an Indian documentary, Y Can’t I Run? The Story of Santhi Soundarajan. Another package, called Family Ties, is a collection of films from India and abroad about queer children and their families. Then of course there is our special package of "QToons". Cartoon films top the list of fond childhood memories for most of us. So we scouted around and managed to get nine films.
Festival audience numbers have increased but how many of them are not queer?
SR: One of the primary objectives of Kashish is to make queer visibility mainstream. One of the constant questions still is – who are these gay and lesbian people we hear a lot in the media these days, what do they look like, what do they do? The films at Kashish answer many of these questions – that gay and lesbian persons are just human beings, as normal as anyone living in your own house or working in your own office; they have the same anxiety, happiness, hope, aspirations, dreams as anyone else. They are not from Mars or Venus or an alien planet.
By Aditya Kundalkar on March 02 2012 2.07pm