In its fifth year, Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival 2014 will move to a new venue — the iconic Liberty Cinema at New Marine Lines.
The historic art deco single-screen theatre, which has seen premieres and screenings of many of the biggest Bollywood classics over the past half century, will host South Asia's and India's biggest and only mainstream LGBT film festival between May 21 and 25. The festival will simultaneously be held at Alliance Française de Bombay between May 22 and 24.
"The USP of Kashish has always been that it has been held at a mainstream theatre — this is our effort to take queer films to a larger audience so that they understand more about the community and their lives," said festival director Sridhar Rangayan.
"For the last four years, PVR and Cinemax multiplex theatres have supported us and we're indeed thankful. But it was time to move to a larger theatre because we always had over 30% extra audience we couldn't accommodate. This year, with the big Liberty Cinema, which has a seating capacity for more than 1,000 people, we will be able to accommodate everyone who registers."
Nazir Hoosein, owner of the theatre, said: "Liberty Cinema is delighted to have been chosen as the main venue partner for the Kashish film festival. We believe in equal rights for everyone. It is our hope that the festival will go a long way in the eventual change in attitudes and elimination of prejudices. We wish the organisers the very best in succeeding in this endeavour."
The theatre, construction on which began in 1947, the year of the Indian Independence and hence the name Liberty, has been a historically important cinema hall with its iconic art deco construction and magnificent interiors. Many heritage experts swear by its finest interiors and call them "the best in all of India". It has been described by David Vinnels and Brent Skelly in their celebrated book Bollywood Showplaces: Cinema Theatres in India as "an exquisite jewel box of rococo decoration enhanced by a coloured lighting scheme suggesting a fairyland far away from the bustle and tumult in the streets outside".
Rangayan said, "Liberty cinema, over the decades, has stood for freedom of cultural expression, which co-relates with Kashish's mission of liberty, equality and dignity for all. Also, placing the festival in the cultural heartland of South Mumbai will enable greater participation of a diverse audience segment who are always looking to see good qualitative cinema. Kashish 2014 promises an unforgettable cinematic experience."
Voted as one of the Top 5 coolest LGBT Film Festivals in the World, Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is committed to work with LGBT and civil rights organisations to take ahead the struggle for upholding human rights and ensuring a nondiscriminatory world. Organisers say the recent Supreme Court decision on December 11, 2013, was a big setback to the nascent queer rights movement in India
The festival believes films and art are powerful mediums to bring about social change, and it continues its commitment to bring the best of international and Indian queer cinema to Mumbai to mainstream queer issues and their lives
Kashish 2014 will reflect this spirit of optimism with its theme 'Dare to Dream', which is a salute to the undying spirit and synergy of LGBT communities around the world and the changes it has brought in. The theme is also a reflection of hopes, plans, strategies, dreams for the future and will reinvigorate and reinvent aspirations