film festivals

Kashish queer festival celebrates diversity and the hope for a more inclusive world

The festival, which runs from May 24-28 in Mumbai, includes the Indian entries ‘Loev’, ‘Sisak’ and ‘Harikatha Prasanga’.

The Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is back for an eighth round of rarely seen LGBT cinema from India and the rest of the world. The theme for this year’s edition is “Diverse, One”. At least 147 films, shorts and documentaries will be screened between May 24 and 28 in Mumbai.

Founded in 2010 by filmmaker Sridhar Rangayan, Kashish is the only mainstream queer festival of its kind in India. Around 43 movies will compete in eight categories for a cash award of Rs 2.2 lakh.

American filmmaker Jennifer Reeder’s Signature Move, starring Shabana Azmi, will open the festival. Azmi plays a recently widowed Pakistani mother to an aspiring lesbian wrestler (Fawzia Mirza).

Among the Indian premieres is Faraz Arif Ansari’s Sisak, a silent film about the sparks that fly between two men who travel by the same Mumbai local train every night. The film bagged the audience award (short film) at Boston’s Wicked Queer LGBTQ festival.


In Sudhanshu Saria’s Loev, two childhood friends (played by Dhruv Ganesh and Shiv Pandit) come to terms with the complexities of their relationship during a weekend getaway. The film had its world premiere at Estonia’s Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, and has been added to the Netflix catalogue.


Velutha Rathrikal is Razi Muhammed’s queer-themed twist on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel White Nights. Set in a remote village in Kerala, the film explores the relationship that a troubled Adivasi woman shares with a man and another woman.

Velutha Rathrikal.

The Kannada film Harikatha Prasanga is about Hari, a Yakshagana actor who performs female roles. The 105-minute movie is Ananya Kasaravalli’s directorial debut. Tanuj Bhramar’s Dear Dad, starring Tamil actor Arvind Swamy, will also be screened at the festival.

Harikatha Prasanga.

Apart from Indian entries, the programme includes features and shorts from Armenia, Nigeria, Kosovo, Rwanda, Trinidad and the United Arab Emirates. Armenian entry Apricot Groves explores the life of a young Iranian Armenian trans-man living in the US who returns to his homeland to meet his girlfriend’s family.

Apricot Groves.

More Raca’s short film Home is about a lesbian chef in Kosovo who is forced to marry a man just so that she can inherit her deceased parents’ property. The 24-minute Albanian short is Raca’s second film after Amel (2014).


Set in Iran, Abdulla Al Kaabi’s Only Men Go To The Grave follows the unveiling of an Iranian household’s secret during a family member’s funeral. The feature film is the only UAE entry.

Only Men Go To The Grave.

In Flavio R Tambellini’s Gloria and Grace, a dying mother reaches out to her estranged brother to take care of her children, only to find out that he has now become a woman.

Gloria and Grace.
Gloria and Grace.

Besides the narrative features, the festival also offers a range of student films that will compete for the Best Student Short Film award. In Kat Michaelides’s animated short Lethe, two women discover a mystifying pool of water that changes their life. Alexandrina Andre’s Flora is about the coming out of the titular transgender woman to her family.

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HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort
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HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand
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