Bringing queer narratives to the big screen

Presented in a hybrid format, this film festival is showcasing more than 150 films that focus on diverse stories from the LGBTQ+ community.

Published: 06th June 2022 07:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th June 2022 07:51 AM   |  A+A-

‘Mumu Shelly’. (File Photo)

‘Mumu Shelly’. (File Photo)

Express News Service

In May 1998, Deepa Mehta’s Fire—it was the first installment of Mehta’s Elements trilogy—hit the theatres, drawing massive attention (positive and negative). Exploring a same-sex relationship between two women, Fire is said to be the first mainstream Bollywood film that openly talks about lesbianism in the Indian context.

While the film did spark an uproar—theatres screening the film were vandalised—it also paved the way for activists to take centre stage and create conversation about LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the Indian subcontinent. Fire can be deemed a case in point of how cinema can kick-start conversations around sensitive issues, provoking change in the long run.

Twenty four years later today, the global film industry, has come a long way from its stereotypical representation of the queer community. Several actors, writers, and directors who want strong narratives to reach audiences are now driving this change. Nearly 184 such “thought-provoking yet entertaining” films about (and from) the queer community are being showcased at the 13th edition of the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, known to be South Asia’s biggest queer film festival.

“This year, we are screening films from 63 countries with 30 Indian films of which five are feature-length films. This is a great impetus to Indian LGBTQIA+ cinema and we are happy to facilitate this,” shared Sridhar Rangayan, festival director.

Reel-time pride
The Festival—it was inaugurated on June 1—is taking place in hybrid mode this year. While physical screenings of the films took place—it concluded on Sunday—at Liberty Cinema, Mumbai, the virtual screenings will continue till June 12.

The physical screening featured big names such as Harshavardhan Kulkarni’s comedy-drama Badhaai Do,  P Abhijit’s Antharam, Faraz Arif Ansri’s Sheer Qorma, etc., as well as independent titles—Batul Mukhtiar’s dark comedy Mumu Shelly, Vinay Giridhar’s feature documentary Emergence: Out of Shadows, among others. Sharing the idea behind the curation, Rangayan added, “It was to bring together both entertaining but thought-provoking films. The mainstream [industry] should take notice of these independent films that are heart-warming and ensure they reach a mass-level audience.”

Divya Dutta, Faraz Arif Ansari, and Swara Bhaskar at the screening of ‘Sheer Qorma’

An interesting line-up of films awaits the audience in virtual mode. Some of the notable features that can be seen virtually are Private Desert, Wet Sand by Georgian director Elene Naveriani, and more.

A moment of celebration
The Festival is an attempt to generate effective dialogue to address issues of the queer community while also giving a platform to independent filmmakers. “It is a great opportunity as thousands of people will watch these films. On such platforms, we get appreciation and our work is understood,” shared Ashish Madurwar, director, of Thodi Si Khushi, a short film about a househusband and his trans-partner, also available in the virtual mode.

Calling the screening of his film, Sheer Qorma, at the Festival “overwhelming”, director Faraz Arif Ansari, concluded, “There is a lot of love pouring from all corners. That’s a testament of what Sheer Qorma is trying to say: It’s love that will save the day.” June is celebrated as Pride Month worldwide. Watch this space for stories from the LGBTQIA+ community

WHAT: Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival (virtual mode)
WHEN: Till June 12


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