Shyam Benegal announces Kashish – India’s first Queer Film Festival

MUMBAI: Filmmaker Shyam Benegal along with actress Celina Jaitley announced Kashish 2011 – the second edition of India’s biggest queer film festival that focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender films.

Celina Jaitley is KASHISH’s Festival Ambassador and Shyam Benegal, the Festival Patron. Sai Paranjpye, actors Shernaz Patel and Samir Soni were also present at the press conference.

The film festival will be held at two venues – Cinemax Versova, Andheri West and Alliance Francaise, Marine Lines in Mumbai – between 25 – 29 May, and will feature 124 films from 23 countries.

The jury comprises Sai Paranjpye, Shernaz Patel, Samir Soni, Khalid Mohamed and for the first time an international festival director John Badalu from Indonesia.

Jaitley said, "I am very happy to be associated with Kashish for the second year as its Ambassador. Kashish is a great platform to uphold human rights and dignity for all, which is what I strongly believe in too. Kashish is a celebration of the equality of all human emotions irrespective of sex, creed, race and culture. Kashish also gives an opportunity to young budding filmmakers to showcase their talents especially in India where there is a lack of a platform for showcasing independent films.”

Benegal added, “All minorities in this country need representation and sexual minorities is one of them. Kashish is a move in the right direction to create awareness through the medium of films. It is a step forward in the gay movement.”

This year, the Country Focus will be on Israel with more than seven films from there. Spotlight on Filmmaker will shine on US filmmaker Q. Allan Brocka and UK filmmaker Rikki Beadle-Blair.

Special package of sensitive, dramatic and touching features and shorts on HIV/AIDS is introduced under ‘Red Ribbon Films’ package. The competition section will showcase films, which will be judged by an eminent international jury panel. The Riyad Wadia award for Indian emerging filmmaker is instituted this year with a cash award of Rs 10,000.

The Best Indian queer short film at Kashish gets to compete for the Iris Prize in UK, which carries a cash prize of 25,000 pounds.

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