To bring transgender issues to the mainstream, a queer film festival kicks off in Mumbai this week

A refreshing and balanced dose of fun, romantic, erotic and edgy films is expected at the third edition of the Kashish Mumbai International Film Festival. With a bagful of 120 films from 30 countries, Kashish is perhaps the first and only gay and lesbian film festival in the country organised in a mainstream theatre and cleared by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, according to the organisers.

“Kashish is an attempt at bringing queer cinema from around the world to Indian audiences, showcasing a genre of movies which generally is inaccessible to the mainstream audience. It is also a platform for Indian filmmakers who make films on queer themes to reach out to a larger audience,” said festival director Sridhar Rangayan. Around 25 per cent of the films to be screened are from India, including four regional feature films.

The festival will have popular shorts packages like Girls Shorts, which will showcase a mix of lesbian themed shorts, Rainbow Warriors (about queer people who have made a difference), Indian Masala Mix (exciting shorts by young Indian filmmakers) and Red Ribbon package (films on HIV/AIDS). There are several new packages on the anvil including Urban Longings (about meetings and departings in a city), Unfair Games (homophobia in sports) and Family Ties (about the queer person and their families). There is also expected to be a package of animation shorts titled QToons and shorts featuring zombies, Werebears and a gay superhero thrown in.

“LGBT persons are still looked on as different and in many societies as criminals. Movies are a great way of communication and breaking these stereotypes,” said Shyam Benegal, who is the festival patron and has been associated with Kashish for the past three years.The jury for the festival comprises Renuka Sahane, Parvin Dabas, theatre actor Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, television actress Mona Ambegaonkar, and film critic/ author Mayank Shekhar. The festival will be held across two venues? -- Cinemax Versova in Andheri West and Alliance Francaise at New Marine Lines from May 23 to 27.

More In: Delhi