The Mumbai Queer Film Fest: The winners
Sourendra Kumar Das
One of the Bollywood’s most coveted director Onir’s ‘I AM’ won the award for the Best Narrative Feature Film at the 2nd Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, India’s biggest queer festival held at Cinemax, Andheri in Mumbai in May 25 to 29, 2011.
“This is a very special award for three reasons. This is the first time I am getting an award in Mumbai. Secondly, I am happy to receive this award from Sai-ji with whom I started my career and lastly my lovely cast is here to support me,” said Onir while accepting the award.
“It is lovely to be here. I wish Kashish goes from strength to strength and scale to scale,” revealed Juhi Chawla.
Rahul Bose who had been to the festival last year for the premiere of the film’s trailer, recalled the way the festival had started. “The festival and I are on the margins, but when we have to be creative, it allows us to be truly free,” feels the coveted actor.
Sanjay Suri, who acts in the film and is also a producer thanked Kashish and the jury for selecting the film. “The film wouldn’t have been possible without the contribution of 400 persons from across the world who send in money to finance the film. This award is dedicated to all those people,” said Suri.
Jury Chairperson Sai Paranjpye said the decision to award ‘I AM’ was unanimous. “The film was awarded for its truly kaleidoscopic vision of the human condition. The film narrates four diverse stories, which deal with a spectrum of topics including same-gender relationships. The quartet is a marvelous portrait of contemporary social concerns, in sum their impact being bold as well as beautiful,” said Paranjpye while reading the citation.
Sonal Gulati’s documentary film ‘I AM’ too won the special jury award. The jury gave whole-hearted thumbs up for the film’s bold and frank accounts of young gay men and women dealing with family prejudices as well as understanding.
The Best Documentary Feature award went to David Weissman’s ‘We Were Here’ from USA. The jury was won over by its in-depth realization through personalized interviews and incisive reportage of a heart wrenching chapter of history, the advent of AIDS in San Francisco of the 70s and 80s.
The Best Documentary Short Film award was taken away by Bill Brummel and Geoffrey Sharp from USA for their film ‘Bullied’ for a stark and disturbing trials and tribulations of a gay student facing ongoing torture and relentless bullying of his peers, to which school authorities seem to turn a blind eye to. His eventual triumph makes the film inspiring and edifying.
The Best International Narrative Short Film was awarded to ‘Let the World Know about Me’ by Marianna Giordano from Argentina for the film’s inventive blend of the musical idiom with a purposeful point to make, vis-à-vis the stepping out by a girl from the by-now claustrophobic closet.
The Best Indian Narrative Short Film award was won by Amen, for its directors Ranadeep Bhattacharya and Judhajit Bagchi. The film won the award for the sensitive depiction of the little known aspect of same gender dating through websites, the film’s assertive conclusion, credible performances, and technical assurance. As the winner, Kashish will nominate ‘Amen’ for the Iris Prize in UK, which carries a cash prize of £ 25,000.
The first ‘Riyad Wadia Award for Best Emerging Indian Filmmaker’ was won by Shumona Banerjee for the whimsical, witty and yet so wise ‘Kusum – The Flower Bud’, about a spunky transvestite’s bond with an eccentric professor. The award, which carries a cash prize of $200, was instituted by the Wadia family, in memory of pioneering film maker Riyad Wadia, who made India’s first gay film ‘BOMGay’.
The ‘Kashish Coffee Break Audience Award’ had 10 films hosted online and voted by a global audience. The winner, decided by online votes was ‘Nothing Happened’ by Julia Kots from USA.
The jury headed by noted filmmaker Sai Paranjpye, comprised film critic and filmmaker Khalid Mohamad, actress Shernaz Patel, actor Samir Soni and Indonesian film curator John Badalu.
“When we started Kashish last year, we never ever dreamt that it would grow to such a huge scale in just its second year. The number of people, the number of shows, and the number of visiting filmmakers has been fantastic. The film festival is as much about awareness and advocacy, as it is about entertainment and glamour,” said film-maker Sridhar Rangayan.
“The second edition of Kashish ends on an extremely motivating note, as despite having a much bigger theatre, there were house full shows, reflecting the thirst of the audiences for queer themed films. Next, year we will be back, bigger and bolder,’’ promised Vivek Anand, the festival director and man behind the entire festival.
Kashish 2011 that focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender films was announced by Celina Jaitley, Kashish’s Festival Ambassador and Shyam Benegal, the Festival Patron. It was held at two venues: Cinemax Versova, Andheri West and Alliance Francaise, Marine Lines and featured 124 films from 23 countries. Its first season last year was the first mainstream queer film festival to be ever held in India.