Queers From Diverse Cultures: KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender persons in India are still stigmatized, discriminated and victimized because of the prevailing taboos and social ostracizing of these sexual minorities. Things are slowly changing with call for equal rights becoming more and more strident, propelled further by the historic verdict on July 2nd 2009 by Delhi High Court which decriminalized consensual homosexual acts in privacy after two decades of legal battle. From then on, there has been a burst of activities across India, especially in the metros, which aim to highlight and hold a dialogue about LGBT issues.However there is still not many avenues for screening of queer themed films in mainstream spaces where not only queer persons, but the mainstream audience too can attend and watch queer-themed films from India and the worldover.
Kashish 2010 – Mumbai International Queer Film Festival 2010 which was held from April 22-25, turned out to be a milestone event in LGBT movement in India. It was the first ever queer film festival in India to be held in a mainstream theatre PVR Cinemas. It was also the first queer film festival in India to apply for and obtain an exemption from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The four days of the film festival drew an unprecedented audience turnout of over 1200 people who came to watch 110 films from 25 countries. The festival was supported by a host of Bollywood celebrities and media professionals. There was coverage in more than 200 news sites, and blogs with exclusive spreads in several mainstream newspapers in India as well as leading international newspapers.Taking this successful initiative forward, KASHISH 2011 was held from May 25-29, 2011 and was BIGGER, BOLDER & QUEERER.
We chose four India queer short films which screened in KASHISH 2010 to show the variety of queer experience and expression in India. India and China are both Asia countries. Bombay international film festival emerged and survived in a less tolerant social and political circumstance, as well as Beijing queer film festival. Therefore, the ‘friends from India’ session aims to learn and share queer experience through image dialogue and communication between film festival organizers.