This year’s Kashish film festival spanned from 23rd May to 27th may. It was the 9th year of South Asia’s biggest film festival. Kashish has been consistent in its efforts towards inclusivity and diversity. ‘Together with Pride’ was the theme for 2018. The crowd was glamorously dressed. Seeing the community come together and boldly express themselves on the red carpet of Liberty Cinema was a sight to behold, like everyone was shouting a big ‘Fuck You’ to the those who stayed bigoted in society. The shorts were neatly divided into packages serving different identities and experiences- Boys’ Shots, Girls’ Shorts, Family Matters, Together with my Child, Indian Masala Mix etc.
The country in focus last year was Britain who instated section 377 in India during the Raj and who ironically have gotten rid of it in their constitution themselves. The focus this year was on India, celebrating Indian talent and activism through filmmaking. We got to watch a number of spectacular LGBTQ Indian shorts and features including Khejdi that premiered at the fest, Pashi, and Ajay which won themselves quite a few awards at the fest and a lot of love from the audience. The awards were announced during the closing ceremony. Here is a list of some of the important awards won by Indian filmmakers:
Q Drishti Film Grant (Provides funds and mentorship for the filmmaker’s next LGBTQ+ film):
Winner: Siddharth Chauhan, director of Pashi
Best Indian Narrative Short
Best Performance in a Lead Role
Winner: Chetan Kanwar for PASHI
The anticipation of the awards was mixed with some fabulous performances. The ceremony started with a breathtaking fashion show arranged by Mx Gaurav while comedian Abish Mathew took up hosting for the night. Gender roles were challenged with a performance by the Kashish favorite, High Heel Hotties, a group of gay men who perform in high heels. India’s first transgender dance group, Dancing Queens, gave a tribute to the late Sridevi through their dance performance on popular Sridevi numbers like Hawa Hawaii.
There have certainly been spaces for LGBTQ+ community to come together and celebrate, but being South Asia’s biggest queer film festival Kashish has been one of those important places. Inside the gates you are appreciated for being fearless than judged. Despite its efforts though, Kashish has still been inaccessible to certain groups of society. Our hope for Kashish next year is to see more women and greater class diversity within this safe space that all of us deserve.