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Hijra to Punjab's Robin Hood
Having run to 'Housefull' placards last summer, Kashish, India's biggest queer film festival, is back with a bouquet of 120 films from across the world. The theme this year is 'For Everyone' because these films deal not only with the stories of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community but also others who are socially connected to it.
A special attraction is an added package of short animated films titled Q Toons featuring zombies and even a gay superhero. "Queer cinema has moved away from focusing only on tragedy and perversion. This year they are about fun and romance, erotic, edgy and humane experiences, " says festival director Sridhar Rangayan.
Director Rob Williams is in focus this year. The festival will feature his hits such as Long Term Relationship, Make The Yuletide Gay and Role/Play. Other popular short packages include Girl Shorts (a mix of lesbian themed short flicks), Rainbow Warriors (about a queer community that made a difference ), Unfair Games (sports homophobia), Family Ties and Urban Longings (relationships) and Red Ribbon (on HIV). Williams will also be sharing his filmmaking experiences with audiences at a special session.
Being the only queer film festival to be held in a mainstream theatre and also the only one in its league to receive clearance from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Indian producers hope that the festival will net them new viewers and also bring better business.
This year Kashish will also feature Indian regional films in Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil/Kannada and Hindi. The four films will approach issues relating to the hijra community in four different ways. Family Khusreyan Di is a comedy about a transgender from a village in Punjab who has to pretend to be a macho Robinhood avatar and save his village. Queens! Destiny Of Dance features Seema Biswas and is set in a hijra 'gharana' and features colourful dances. We The Outsiders (Aamhi Ka Tisre) in Marathi is based on a boy who is disowned by his family and seeks refuge among hijras. Let The Butterflies Fly is a Kannada documentary on discrimination and abuse faced by transgenders. Veteran actresses like Lillete Dubey and Sarita Joshi will feature in an international production, Bollywood Beats. "It is wonderful that even middle class Indian audiences are now enthusiastic about watching films on subjects which were once taboo, " says Joshi. The festival focus is on France, viewers will get to watch acclaimed films such as Gigola, an exploration of the gay underbelly of Paris during the 1960s as witnessed by a suave lesbian hustler, and Le Fil (The String), a bitter sweet romance directed by Mehdi Ben Attia.
At Cinemax, Versova, Andheri from May 23 to May 27 and Alliance Francaise de Bombay, Marine Lines, from May 24 to May 26
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