Inside KASHISH 2017: When diversity shone through
Posted on 30 May, 2017 by Team Wishberry
Art as both aesthetics and politics
Over the next four days, one witnessed art and activism co-exist seamlessly. The films were all saying the same thing — a voice that wants to be heard makes its way into the consciousness of those who really want to listen! Apricot Groves, an Armenian film detailed one day in the life of Aram, an Iranian-Armenian trans-man who travels to his native land to confront a multitude of emotions — from asking his lover’s hand in marriage, to setting out on a road-trip with his brother to Iran for a surgery that will set in motion his process of transition. Similarly, Escaping Agra was a 23-minute short and it detailed Naveen Bhat’s ordeals and finally, their triumph, after their parents get to know about their sexual orientation. Naveen is non-binary and uses the pronouns them/their.
International cinema aside, it was Indian cinema that made its mark at KASHISH as well. One has to talk about the screening of Sisak, the short film by Faraz Arif Ansari. Hailed as India’s first silent LGBTQ love story, Sisak has been making India proud at international film festivals and its Asia Premiere at KASHISH bore testimony to the fact that good cinema will always, always find its audience. While Sisak was ‘silent’, features such as Devi, Coming Out - India Stories, White Nights, and Chronicles of Hari, made all the right noises.
Other films that left one stunned and in awe included the Brazilian feature Gloria and Grace, Ariel, Scar Tissue and The Fish Curry.
KASHISH as activism
Apart from screening 147 films from 45 countries, what is laudable about KASHISH is the support system that it creates through its various advocacy and outreach programmes. From an acting workshop to a Parents' Support Group Presentation workshop by Solaris Pictures, Liberty Cinema truly became a space where discrimination ceased to exist (at least for 4 days!).
KASHISH is not just a film festival — yes, admittedly, for film buffs it is a great opportunity to catch up on good cinema, but over and above that, this event is about inclusivity. It is about saying a resounding ‘NO’ to gender and sexual preference based discrimination. It is about bringing together people from various backgrounds casting aside social structures such as race and caste. Finally, and most importantly, KASHISH is a nod to those whose identities are constantly questioned, bruised and battered, because society at large cannot make its peace with anything that seems to upset its hierarchy. KASHISH is all about unabashed pride!
Sridhar Rangayan, the man behind KASHISH, complained during one of the sessions that the audience seemed uninterested in cheering for him — we say, Sridhar, take a bow!