The 9th Kashish Film Festival follows the theme ‘Together, with Pride’. With a sizeable list of 145 films from 45 countries, the opening ceremony of Kashish felt like a gush of wind strong enough to pull closet doors open. For the queer community, alienated by closets and phobia, Kashish provides a space for coming together and coming out. It started with a red curtain drawing up and and a roar of cheer for South Asia’s biggest queer film festival. The host Rohini was heartily cheered on the stage and co-host Mantra gave the first extravagant performance as he walked in from the back door singing in the spotlight. One after the other, the people behind this year’s Kashish walked on the stage to finally see the event be inaugurated after months of hard work and hustle. A series of performances followed – Akhilesh Chaturvedi performs a Kathak choreography, Colours positive comes next with another dance performance, Navin Noronha presents a stand-up act on the subject of coming out.
The first film, Beats Per Minute was screened. It is a French narrative feature story set in the 1990s during the AIDS epidemic. An AIDS activist group, ACT UP, holds weekly meetings. Most of the members of the group are the infected. All of them are queer. It starts with a couple of newcomers being briefed on the rules of the group. Among the many important characters are two protagonists, Nathan, who is one of the newcomers, and Sean, known to be the most radical in the group and struck by the disease. The group is constantly debating in the meetings, questioning each other’s actions and decisions. There is friction in their relationships with each other because of varying beliefs and approaches towards activism but love and friendship keeps them together. So even though the disease might be tearing them apart, it even keeps them closer. The movie won the Grand Prix prize at 2017 Cannes film festival. The reason why this particular movie was screened to open the festival could be to remind and reignite the solidarity and activism in the queer community- the way we express themselves through our bodies and art.