5 Queer Films You Can’t Miss at Kashish Film Festival 2019
Stills from <i>Sauvage</i> (L), <i>Tongues Untied</i> (C), and <i>Rafiki</i> (R).
Stills from Sauvage (L), Tongues Untied (C), and Rafiki (R).

5 Queer Films You Can’t Miss at Kashish Film Festival 2019

The 10th annual Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival takes place this year from 12 to 16 June. Founded in 2010, Kashish is the largest LGBT-themed film festival in India and has been voted one of the ‘Top 5 Coolest LGBT Film Festivals in the World.’

Every year for five days Kashish makes Mumbai a hub for the cross-section of cinema lovers and the LGBTQ community. It is one of the largest platforms in India to advocate and sensitize the public about LGBTQ issues across the country and the world. 2019 also marks the first edition of the festival since the Supreme Court’s historic judgement reading down Section 377.

Kashish’s programme consists of some of the most acclaimed queer cinema from India and beyond with this year’s lineup including 160 films from 43 countries.

We have picked five of the top features you can’t afford to miss at this year’s festival.

1. Rafiki

Premiering at Cannes last year, Rafiki has the distinction of being not only the first Kenyan film to be selected for the festival but also the first lesbian film to come out of the country. While the film has been a runaway hit on the festival circuit, it proved controversial in its home country (where homosexuality is still illegal) and was even banned. Once the ban was lifted, it played to sold out crowds. A real crowd-pleaser.

2. José

Another landmark film, José was the first Central American film to be selected for the Venice Film Festival. The Guatemalan coming of age drama also won the Queer Lion, awarded to the best film dealing with LGBT themes at Venice. The jury called it “sensitively written and beautifully performed... shows the complexity of a same-sex relationship against the background of the harsh life in contemporary Guatemala.”

3. Sauvage

Sauvage was another queer breakout at last year’s Cannes film fest. This intense drama deals with a young male sex worker on the streets of France who longs for emotional intimacy. Lead Félix Maritaud received unanimous praise for his unflinching portrayal and even won the Rising Star award at Cannes. Sight & Sound appropiately calls the film “ fulsomely passionate and explicit... a riotous and sensual ode to freedom.”

4. Njan Marykutty

This Malayalam language sleeper hit from last year is an honest yet feel-good portrait of a trans woman struggling to find herself and her place in the world. The film tells a remarkable story in a mainstream commercial format, while showing sensitivity and authenticity towards its protagonist. Jayasurya in particular was lauded in the title role, even earning a Kerala State Film Award for his performance.

5. Tongues Untied

Marlon Riggs’ 1989 documentary slash essay film is a milestone in not only queer cinema, but specifically black queer cinema. Riggs celebrates black men loving black men as a revolutionary act. The artist/activist/filmmaker aimed to "...shatter the nation's brutalizing silence on matters of sexual and racial difference." Kashish’ screening is special since 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the film’s release.

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