10 must-watch films on the colourful aspects of LGBTQIH life

With special focus on the colourful aspects of LGBTQIH life, the eighth Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival expands its cinematic scale. Plus 10 must-watch films

May 20, 2017 10:00 am | Updated May 21, 2017 08:47 pm IST

In 2010, when the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival first hit the road, submissions had to be furiously chased. The organisers of what is now claimed to be South Asia’s largest queer film festival, had to write to people all over the world to acquire their films to be screened in Mumbai. Cut to eight editions later, in 2017, and festival director Sridhar Rangayan is inundated with entries from all over the world. This edition of Kashish, which has crowdsourced ₹3 lakh to fund it, received its highest submission count yet: a whopping 1,200 films. “We start inviting submissions in October every year and our preview sessions continue till mid-February,” says head of programming Saagar Gupta, who previously worked in Hindi television before going full-time with Kashish.


Gupta, along with a selection committee of seven, has whittled down the entries to a final tally of 147 films from 145 countries, of which the shortest is a 1.22-minute film while the longest is 133 minutes. This year, which kicks off with the Shabana Azmi-starrer, Signature Move , also marks the largest cash prize award to the winners — ₹2.25 lakh, sponsored by Anupam Kher’s school, Actor Prepares.

“We used to show more populist films earlier which were easy on the mind and eye,” says Rangayan, talking about how the festival and its audience has evolved over the years with a desire to go beyond watching struggle and romance on the big screen.


He’s quick to clarify though, there’s a fair share of ‘slice of life films’ for those who want to be thoroughly entertained. “You need some eye candy, that’s also important,” he chuckles. But the focus this year has been on diversity, and not just in terms of sexual orientation. Gupta says, “This year, special care has been taken to include films with specially-abled people,” he says. Rangayan echoes the sentiment, “We wanted diversity in terms of ethnicity, culture, age and even ability. We have some poignant films on body types, too.”

The emphasis on diversity is an attempt on Rangayan’s part to cater to the wide spectrum of festival attendees. “The audience has interesting, edgy global cinema available to them on their mobile phones,” he says.

The whole idea of Kashish, according to the festival director, is to watch films with people who will not discriminate. “You don’t have to put a bed sheet on the laptop to hide what you’re watching.” he says, adding that his festival’s films are about love, desire, family and other regular things to make the viewer realise that, above all, they’re just as normal as everyone else.

Rangayan picks five


Director:Ananya Kasaravalli

Kasaravalli reconstructs the life of a performer who’s gained celebrity status performing the female parts in Yakshagana theatre. Things fall apart for the protagonist when he decides to continue dressing as a woman offstage. “You see a beautiful story of a man wanting to dress as a woman and the challenges he faces,” he says.


Apricot Groves,Armenia

Director: Pouria Heidary Oureh

A trans Armenian man from the US returns to his home town to propose to his girlfriend who belongs to a conservative family. “He presents himself as a man asking a woman’s hand in marriage and it’s a beautifully sensitive film about the LGBT spectrum.”



Director: Abhishek Verma

The 2D hand-drawn animated film is about a father coming to terms with his son’s sexuality over the course of a meal. “The film leaves you with an amazing feeling at the end,” says Rangayan, adding that its animation is top notch as well.


, Canada

Directors:Mark Kenneth Woods and Michael Yerxa

The Canadian documentary explores the rights of the LGBT community within the Inuit people. “People think [the Inuit folk] still live in igloos. A lot has happened in the region and people don’t have basic rights, especially the LGBT people.”


Director: Karine Lhémon

The documentary is about two differently-abled women who live outside city limits as poets and artists. The film highlights the challenges faced by people with special needs, but also reveals that love transcends all boundaries. “The couple’s journey is loaded with so much struggle, but they still have so much love and sensitivity towards each other. It’s a very touching documentary,” he concludes.

Gupta’s favourites

, Germany

Director: Piotr J Lewando wski

The feature length film tells the story of Jonathan’s ailing father, Burghardt, who’s been harbouring a secret for several years. When Burghardt’s old friend, Ron, makes an appearance, the truth outs and Jonathan must learn to deal with his father’s sexuality. “So far we’ve only seen protagonists who are young and queer, but this film talks about a dying father who is gay. It’s usually the parents who have to get used to their children coming out,” explains Gupta.


Director: Abdulla Al Kaabi

An Arab family’s matriarch is gay and she wants to tell her daughter this before she dies. Unfortunately, the worst happens and the protagonist’s daughter must learn her mother’s truth by other means. Turns out, there are several other hidden truths behind the shroud of the veil. “It’s a beautiful film with shades of Rukmavati Ki Haveli (1991). This is the first time we’ve received a film from the UAE.”


Director: Cristina Herrera Bórquez

Two stylists in a long-term relationship are the apple of their society’s eye. Everything changes when the two decide to get legally married and face backlash from everyone who once supported them. “It’s a great story about the couple’s struggle with the legal system and their alternative families.”

, Cuba

Director: J avier Ferreiro

A film about the real lives of adult stars. Alfa has lost his on-screen and real-life partner and must go back to being in front of the camera. “For the first time we see the private life and emotional side of a gay adult actor, and see how he’s coping with loss in his personal and professional life.”

T , India

Director: Shivangi Mittal

In this short film, a young girl on a field assignment to measure the Richter scale in a village, meets a lonely village woman. The two develop a strong bond over a short time. “There’s no physical intimacy, but it’s their bond which is special.”


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