What must it be like to be a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender in a conservative country? This year, the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival will highlight the travails of the LGBT community by screening films from countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Serbia and Israel.
Still from Noor, a film about the LGBT community in Pakistan.
The queer film festival, in its fourth year, will showcase 132 films from 40 countries, and this is the first time entries have come in from Iran and Pakistan.
“We are reaching out to countries where it is difficult to be a LGBT member and is even more difficult for filmmakers to make films on the community,” said festival director Sridhar Rangayan. “Many of these entries are award-winning films and include well-known regional actors. Hence, the festival will cater to a diverse audience for the cinematic experience,” he added.
The festival has a ‘ country focus’ every year, where several documentaries and short films from the country are put together and screened. This year, the focus is on China, with two feature films, two documentaries and three short films from the neighbouring country to be screened at the festival.
“Filmmaking within the LGBT community in China is underground. Two years ago, when I had gone there to attend the Beijing Queer Film Festival, the authorities had stopped it,” said Rangayan.
Community members felt that exposure to such films would create awareness in the community about the struggles of fellow community members in other countries.
“As urban citizens, many of us are not aware about the issues among community members elsewhere, even in smaller towns in our own country, and these films will help create awareness about the importance of rights,” said Pallav Patankar, from the Humsafar Trust, a non-profit that works for the LGBT community.