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    Expect classic and contemporary movies as  part of the Kashish film festival that will screen 180 films from 44 countries

    IX years on from its maiden edition, Kashish in Mumbai continues to proudly wave the flag for LGBT rights. South Asia’s only mainstream international ‘queer’ film festival is back this year with its highest-ever number of films (180, sourced from 44 countries), as well as a special package of films from Asian countries where hostilities against LGBT communities still exist.
    Working the crowd
    With a focus on building alliances across race, class, caste, religion, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation to challenge prejudice, “the theme for 2015 is Reaching Out, Touching Hearts, reflecting the urgent need to reach across boundaries,” says filmmaker and festival director Sridhar Rangayan. Films, which he sees as ‘an imprint of experiences on our mind’, are an excellent way to do this because of their aural visual connect, which can help establish an emotional bond with the viewer. Previous editions have attracted support from diverse quarters, including actress Celina Jaitly and Parmesh Shahani, head of Godrej India Culture Lab.
    With audience engagement in mind, crowd-funding has become an integral part of the festival, with a proportion of the funds coming from well-wishers every year since 2012. “It invigorates, motivates and challenges people to come forward and show their support in whatever capacity they can. It is a ripple effect of enthusiasm that pours in —not just money, but a lot of goodwill,’ says Rangayan. While films have been sourced from all over the world, look out for a particularly wide range of classic and contemporary films from Australia, the country ‘in focus’ this year. “Ultimately, the films give us a sense of hope that change is possible and that a life of equality and dignity can be imagined and achieved,” signs off Rangayan.
    May 27-31 at venues across Mumbai. Details: mumbaiqueerfest.com

    Best to watch
    Sridhar Rangayan takes on the difficult task of narrowing 180 films down to three favourites:

    1 Boy Meets Girl (USA)
    In a line: A poignant, romantic coming-of age-comedy about three young people
    Love it because: It shows the transgender person comfortable in her skin. Starring trans actress,
    Michelle Hendley.
    2 Love is Strange (USA
    In a line: A same-sex couple from Manhattan gets married after 39 years together, but things are not as
    straight-forward as they had hoped thereafter.
    Love it because: The two main leads are amazing actors who bring out the nuances of ‘greying gays’.
    3 Jayjaykar (India)
    In a line: A retired, widowed army officer becomes the unlikely champion of the rights of a group of hijras
    Love it because: A film with heart. While it is basically a comedy, what is awesome is that it laughs with the characters and not at them.

    Bengaluru connect
    Vinay Chandran, who pioneered the Bangalore Queer Film Festival in Bengaluru says,‘‘ Some Malayalam directors have started exploring the LGBT issue in a full-length feature film. Thanks to actor Rituparna Sengupta, there are some LGBT films made in Bengal, too. But the censorboard has to be more senstive. It doesn’t allow the usage of the word lesbian in a film, so how do we make good films then?’’ Chandran observes that documentary filmmakers are more open to this subject and help bring awareness about the subject.

    — Maegan Dobson Sippy
    With inputs from Mrinalini Sundar

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