The 10th edition of the Kashish film festival which premiered in 2010 will paint Mumbai in the colours of the rainbow again on the 14-16th of June 2019. Being South Asia’s biggest queer film festival, it has never failed to astound us with the sheer diversity in films. This year’s theme is ‘Over the Rainbow’ which comes after a milestone, however symbolic, victory for LGBTQIA+ rights in India after the decriminalization of the archaic and highly notorious section 377. It also lays down, the myriad of challenges ahead in all social, political and legal avenues, and the many shades of grey shadow the rainbowed skies. With an array of panel discussions and performances across various artforms in store, it will light up the screen at INOX Metro and Liberty Carnival Cinema. This year has a particularly diverse set in store with 160 movies from 43 countries, across multiple genres like Indian and International narratives, documentaries and animations. The country in focus is Sweden, with 3 feature films and 6 short films in store.
The opening film is Just Friends from Netherlands, a romantic comedy about a Dutch man who falls in love with a Syrian refugee. Directed by Ellen Smit, it is the winner of sex international awards. Refreshingly, this film isn’t driven by contentions around sexuality but instead, the cultural differences between the two leads. It also beautifully explores the relationships between mothers and their son’s sexuality, in the light of several cultural dogmas.
Acclaimed Malayalam film, ‘Njan Marykutty’ (I Am Marykutty), starring award-winning actor Jayasurya and directed by Ranjith Sankar will be the closing film. It revolves around the story of a transsexual person and the emotional and physical trauma the community faces at the hands of government authorities.
Spanning over 5 days and a magnificent set of 160 films, here is a list of films to watch out of for:
A Monsoon Date (India)
Directed by Tanuja Chandra and starring Konkona Sensharma who plays a transsexual person is an intriguing short film taking us through a variety of emotions and first hand experiences. Written by Gazal Dhaliwal, a transwoman herself, it brings mainstream cinema closer to the realities of the trans community and is a story not of exploration but instead of reminiscence.
Boy Erased (US)
Based on Garrard Conley’s memoir, this is a true story of boy who has been forcibly outed to his parents. Amidst dealing with their lack of acceptance and thereafter moving to into a conversion therapy program. It delves into the real horrors of conversion therapy, the trauma and the self-detachment that one goes through and the constant questioning on one’s identity.
Gay sex work, which lies in the intersection of two very shunned identities in society. Leo’s story, driven by the beautiful intimacy yet indifference involved in the profession. However, falling for a bisexual man later, and the unrequited love that follows, make this a film, worth watching.
Until Porn Do Us Apart (Portugal)
A poignant observational film about a mother who comes to terms with the fact her son is gay. It uses a very intimate set up to tell us a story of traditions, family and forgiveness especially in the age of the internet.
This Bengali film is about the life of a transwoman who runs away from home to a city in hopes of finally living her identity. She sings at the red-light, in hope of making enough money to undergo sex reassignment surgery and falls in love with Madhu. Unfortunately, their fate is similar to the many other like them in the country, and the brilliant cinematography makes the movie worth the myriad of heart wrenching emotions that accompany it.
Call Her Ganda (Philippines)
This disquieting documentary brings to light the friction between the US and Philippines and captures the protests that followed when a Filipino transwoman is killed by a US marine. Militarization and transgender discrimination share the centre stage. Three women intimately invested the case, an activist attorney, a transgender journalist and Jennifer’s mother and spark a political uprising and pursue justice under the bridle of US imperialism.
A south Asian transwoman, moves to Toronto to establish her gender identity. In a means to earn money, she becomes a dancer and establishes a huge clientele. However, she is soon subjected to several hate crimes, only to be saved by other member of the community. Later, this ostracization morphs into her unrequited love with a family man.
Kattumaran explores the gradual transformation of a conservative maternal uncle as he begins to accept his orphaned niece’s relationship with a woman. Set in the fishermen community, this moves the focus of discourse around queer communities in the country, which is often restricted to the middle- and upper-class urbans, to the actual grassroots of the country.
Please Mind the Gap (India)
The metro, from the eyes of a trans person is very different from its familiar aura of security and mundanity. Narrated by a transman, the movie encompasses the lives of trans people especially when it comes to reclaiming public spaces.
Two of Every Kind (Israel)
In the flood, everyone is let onto Noah’s ark, in couples. But amongst those many, are two male peacocks, the troubles of whom on this arc, supersede all that of humanity and it’s rift with god.
This year, taking the centre stage are films about the people of colours in the queer community, with black and other POC struggles being highlighted to explore another layer of marginalization amongst the queer community worldwide. Two narrative centrepiece films, Nagarkirtan and Rafiki highlight the struggles of transwomen and lesbians in India and Kenya. The centrepiece documentary, Our Dance of Revolution is based on the POC struggles at the margins during the LGBT movement in Canada. These films are one of a kind, and hard to miss in the festival.
The myriad of films magnificently combine the best of cinematography, writing, acting while effectively bringing the minute struggles of the community to the table. Be sure to be there for an exhilarating five days full of art which truly, ‘comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable’.