Mumbai, May 24 (IBNS) Yesteryear's Bollywood actress Moushumi Chatterjee and filmmaker Sai Paranjpye threw open the 3rd Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival in a star studded read carpet event at Cinemax Versova on Wednesday.
``I wish Kashish all the success,'' said Chatterjee, who also inaugurated an art exhibition `Celebrating the lost art of Bollywood billboards with a queer twist'.
``We are all human and we are one. I am happy to be here for Kashish. The greatest gift of humanity is the ability to love and I do not believe that love should be the reason to discriminate against anyone,'' she said.
Paranjpye said that it was the second consecutive year that she was part of the festival - in 2011 she headed the jury - and was impressed with the strides that the festival had taken in the last three years.
``I am happy to be here and be a part of this exciting movement. It is completely mesmerising. I wish Kashish the best of everything and a lot of luck,'' said Paranjpye who lit the ceremonial lamp to declare the festival open along with gay activist and founder of Humsafar Trust Ashok Row Kavi.
Richard Seeley, Managing Director at Barclays, one of the sponsors of the of the festival, said: ``We are here to support this since the philosophy of the festival fits in perfectly with the philosophy of our company. Equality in opportunity and equality in life are very similar prospects.''
The third edition of India's biggest film festival that focusses on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender themes, will be held at two venues from May 23-27, 2012, at Cinemax Versova in Andheri West and Alliance Francaise at New Marine Lines.
The gala star-studded red carpet opening saw people from the film, theatre and modelling world, including actors Suchitra Pillai, Liliput, Dolly Thakore, Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, Mona Ambegoankar, Parvin Dabas, filmmaker Anant Mahadevan, Parvati Balgopalan and television actor Russshad Rana.
The opening ceremony was swept in some Maharashtrian tadka with a scintillating Lavni performance by the troupe Dancing Queens - a group that raises funds through dance for HIV positive and destitute transgennders.
The event also saw performance by city-based band Fungus.
There was also a surprise in store as South Asia's largest flash mob, which had performed at Marine Drive earlier this year turned up even as a video of their last appearance was being played on the screen.
The opening ceremony was followed by the screening and Indian Premier of Oscar winning film Beginners starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer.
Sarita Joshi, the beloved Baa from the popular television serial Baa, Bahu aur Baby and a well-known stage, television and film actress was the Guest of Honour.
"As an artist, I am here to extend my encouragement and love. At first people were scared even to address members of the LGBT community but now at least they have a name, `Gay'. There is immense lack of awareness and misconceptions in our society about LGBT persons and Kashish is a great medium to address those,'' said Joshi, who stars in Bollywood Beats, which will be screened at the festival.
The jury for the festival comprises actors/ directors Renuka Sahane and Parvin Dabas, theatre actor Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, television actress Mona Ambegaonkar, and film critic/ author Mayank Shekhar.
Festival director Sridhar Rangayan said that in its third year Kashish had grown bigger much beyond expectations.
``Kashish is a platform to bring together filmmakers from around the world to showcase independent films made on themes away from the mainstream. It also is a platform for Indian filmmakers who make films on queer themes to reach out to a larger audience,'' said Rangayan.
This year the festival received 300 entries from around the world out of which 120 films from 30 countries have been short-listed. Around 25 % of the films that will be screened are from India, including four regional feature films.
Pallav Patankar, the co-festival director said that Kashish which had its theme of `For Everyone' this year will screen films not only meant for the LGBT community, but also for their families and friends. He added that over the last three years, KASHISH had also started attracting corporate support.
``In our first year over 90 per cent of the funding was from UN agencies. This year 90 per cent of the funds have come from corporate sponsors, and 10 per cent from UN agencies,'' said Patankar.
``Bring in all your family and friends to watch these movies as movies and not queer movies,'' said Mona Ambegaonkar, one of the jury members, a sentiment echoed by fellow jury member Parvin Dabas.
``People should watch these movies as cinema and not ´queer´ cinema. This is what i realized while watching the movies. It is Human Cinema where the characters just happen to be gay. The quality of all these movies surprised us,'' said Dabas.
Over the period of next four days, Kashish will showcase films on issues and rights related to the LGBT community and their families.
Apart from film screenings, the festival will also feature panel discussions with filmmakers, interaction with celebrities and much more.
Key Highlights for this year will be:
* 120 films from 30 countries
* India Focus - Regional Films: Four queer feature films from India in four regional languages - Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil/Kannada and Hindi.
* Country Focus - France: A special package of two feature length and six short films showcasing the best of contemporary French queer cinema.
* Filmmaker in Focus - Rob Williams: US filmmaker Rob Williams, who has made popular gay romantic comedies and dramas is traveling to India to present his films at KASHISH.
* Special package of sensitive, dramatic and touching features and shorts on HIV/AIDS is introduced under 'Red Ribbon Films' package.
* Short film packages like Rainbow Warriors (about queer people who have made a difference), Indian Masala Mix (exciting shorts by young Indian filmmakers) and UnFair Games about homophobia in sports.
* Q-Toons - A special package of gay animation films.
* Panel discussions, book readings, interactions with filmmakers and even an Art Corner.
* The ``competition section'' will showcase films which will be judged by an eminent panel of Jury members.
* 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.
* 'Riyad Wadia award for Indian emerging filmmaker' with a cash award of Rs.10,000.
* Best Feature Film will win a cash award of Rs 15,000 sponsored by Time Out.
KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is the first and only gay & lesbian film festival in India to be held in a mainstream theatre and the only queer festival to receive clearance from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The festival is organized by Solaris Pictures and Bombay Dost in association with The Humsafar Trust.