Film ‘I Am’ by Onir wins big at Kashish

I Am team with Sanjay Suri, Juhi Chawla, Onir, Arjun Mathur, Rahul BoseMumbai, May 30 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS): Bollywood director Onir’s `I Am’ won the award for the Best Narrative Feature Film at the 2nd Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival.


The closing ceremony of India’s biggest queer festival was held at Cinemax-Versova, Andheri (West) on Sunday evening.


Accepting the award, Onir said, “Thank you Kashish, 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.”


Juhi Chawla said, “It is lovely to be here. I wish KASHISH goes from strength to strength and scale to scale.”


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 me are on the margins, but when we have to be creative, it allows us to be freer,’’ said Bose.


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.’’


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 marvellous portrait of contemporary social concerns, in sum their impact being bold as well as beautiful,’’ she said while reading the citation.


Another “I Am’’ won the special jury award at Kashish.


This was Sonal Gulati’s docu-feature. 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 the 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 1970s-80s.’’


The Best Documentary Short Film award was won 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 pounds.


The first Riyad Wadia Award for Best Energing 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 Rs 10,000 was instituted by the Wadia family, in memory of pioneering film maker Riyad Wadia, who made India’s first gay film “BOMGay’’.


Another first at the fest was the Kashish Coffee Break Audience Award where 10 films were 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, the number of visiting filmmakers have been fantastic. Kashish is as much about awareness and advocacy, as it is about entertainment and glamour,’’ said Festival Director Sridhar Rangayan, adding, “ Kashish 2011 rocked.’’


“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,’’ said Festival Director Vivek Anand.


Kashish 2011 that focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender films was announced by Celina Jaitley, Kashish ‘s Festival Ambassador and Shyam Benegal, the Festival Patron.


The film festival was held at two venues – Cinemax Versova, Andheri West and Alliance Francaise, Marine Lines in Mumbai – between May 25 to May 29, and featured 124 films from 23 countries. Kashish 2010 was the first mainstream queer film festival held in India.


The Indian queer landscape is undergoing historic changes: Pride parades in all the metros, the Delhi High Court’s landmark verdict on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, re-launch of India’s first gay magazine Bombay Dost, the Indian Election Commission’s decision to recognize transgender as a separate category – all these have increased queer visibility both in the media and in mainstream society.


Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival takes this journey further through the medium of films.

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I AM’ wins big at KASHISH 2011

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