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Kashish: Mumbai International Queer Film Festival

Kashish: Mumbai International Queer Film Festival

Wednesday, 07 June 2023 until Sunday, 11 June 2023

The 14th edition of KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival will be held as an in-person festival from June 7 to June 11 2023, followed by an online festival (dates to be announced).

Before submitting you will have an option to select only online, only physical or both, and also if you wish to have your film geo-blocked only to India when playing online.

This year a new award category has been instituted - Ismat Chughtai Award for Best Indian Woman Filmmaker - given to a filmmaker who identifies as a woman, of either a narrative or documentary film playing at the festival, adjudged by an esteemed jury panel. This award is instituted in memory of the intrepid novelist, liberal humanist and filmmaker Ismat Chughtai, by her grandson Ashish Sawhney, and carries a cash award of Rs.25,000 and a KASHISH Golden Butterfly Trophy.

Please read the submission guidelines carefully and submit ONLY if your film is eligible.

𝐊𝐀𝐒𝐇𝐈𝐒𝐇 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟑 𝐅𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐚𝐥 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐞 - 𝐁𝐞 𝐅𝐥𝐮𝐢𝐝, 𝐁𝐞 𝐘𝐨𝐮!

The theme of KASHISH 2023 is 'BE FLUID, BE YOU!', giving wings to the aspirations of the contemporary generation that is fluid in their thoughts, actions and sexualities; which is expressed through films, art and poetry that is universal in its appeal.

Note: This is only the overall festival theme and all films need not coincide with the theme. The festival programs a broad range of films with diverse LGBTQIA+ themes.

KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is the first LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Intersex, Asexual) film festival in India to be held in a mainstream theater, and the first LGBTQIA+ film festival in India to receive clearance from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

KASHISH MIQFF, now considered South Asia’s biggest LGBTQIA+ film festival and one of world’s top 5 coolest LGBTQIA+ film festival, has over the past 12 editions become one of the biggest pride events in India.

Founded in 2010, the festival has grown from strength to strength, attracting close to 9000 footfalls over the 4 1/2 days of the festival at two/three venues. The festival, every year, has screened 110 - 180 films that include shorts, documentaries, features - all centered around LGBTQIA+ themes. The festival also attracts topline Bollywood celebrities, prominent filmmakers and media personalities, and receives every year over 150 write-ups in mainstream press in India and globally.

KASHISH MIQFF has both Competitive and Non-Competitive categories.

KASHISH MIQFF awards around Rs.2,00,000 lacs (US$2500) in cash prizes – the largest total amount awarded by any LGBTQIA+ film festival in the Indian subcontinent.
The Competition Categories are:
- Best Narrative Feature
- Best Documentary Feature
- Best Documentary Short
- Best Indian Narrative Short
- Best International Narrative Short
- Riyad Wadia Award for Best Emerging Indian Filmmaker
- Ismat Chughtai Award for Best Indian Woman Filmmaker
- Best Performance in a Lead Role
- Best Screenplay
- Best Student Short Film
The winners will be selected by panels of eminent Jury. The decision of the Juries will be final and is indisputable.

Please check underneath the terms & conditions for consideration in competition categories.

The Prize money and the Award Trophy will be sent ONLY to the Director of the film.

NOTE: The courier charges for dispatching of Award Trophies outside India will be deducted from the cash award amount.


2023 films...


Dir: Ektara Collective
88 min / India / Hindi

Laila and Roshni are looking for a house after they are evicted from the place they rented. It soon becomes evident that their search for a home is also their ongoing search for a place in this society that wants to keep them away in a section that can not be the centre. They have a friend in Sharukh but many of their other interactions don’t turn out as expected. Laila is torn between being true to herself and preserving links with the family she was born into. Meanwhile, Roshni treads a fine line between concealing her identity and living the life that she wants but it is not without its dangers.

As the search for a home continues, it transcends physical spaces and biological bonds. New friendships blossom and help comes from unexpected quarters.

Dir: Hong Heng Fai
93 / Macau / Cantonese

Chou, a writer who has not written for years, is looking for a tenant to share a spare room in his house. One day, an actor called Chiang comes to rent the room. His clear and innocent eyes have evoked the writer’s interest. Chou finds out that the daily life of Chiang is a performance in itself, he begins to refer to the new tenant as the blueprint of his novel.

Dir: Olivier PEYON
98 min / France / French

Upon agreeing to be the brand ambassador for a famous cognac celebrating their bicentennial, novelist Stéphane Belcourt returns to his hometown for the first time in many years. Once there, he meets his first love’s son, Lucas. Memories come rushing back to him: irrepressible attraction, bodies becoming one in the heat of desire, a passion that can never be revealed… His first love’s name was Thomas. They were 17.

Dir: Michelle Ehlen
91 min / USA / English

In the midst of separating from her wife, Jay attempts to move across the country to start her life over again. She stops in the middle to stay with her high school best friend who she used to be secretly in love with, and befriends a charismatic gay man who has long given up on love. Struggling to move forward with the next chapter of her life, memories of the past resurface as Jay grapples with the inevitable cycles of love, loss, and letting go.

Dir: Marcelo Gomes
104 min / Brazil / Portuguese

On a hot summer day, Paloma decides to fulfill her most cherished dream: a traditional wedding in a church with her boyfriend Zé. She is a devoted mother, a hard-working farmhand in a papaya plantation and has been saving to afford the celebration. The priest’s refusal to marry her and Zé will force Paloma to confront the rural society. She suffers violence, betrayal, prejudice and injustice but nothing shakes the faith and determination of this transgender woman.

Dir: Ian Gabriel
107 min / South Africa / English

When modest tailor and single Indian dad, Varun (Ace Bhatti), is called to break his long-lost white ex-girlfriend, Monica (Diaan Lawrenson), out of a rehab clinic across the country, he and their transgender son, River (Gabe Gabriel), take a road trip across South Africa to rescue her. Varun tells stories of his adventurous past with Monica as he and River jump the border fence and hitchhike in eSwatini with a kind and fiery stranger, Shaunice (Loren Loubser). Finally, they reach the rehab clinic where the receptionist, Hloni (Faniswa Yisa) takes some convincing before finally releasing Monica to the father-son duo. Tensions are high as the dysfunctional new family unit adjusts on their way back home where River is set to compete with his best friend, Ollie (Cleo Wesley), in a once-in-a-lifetime drag competition that could win him his long-awaited gender-affirming surgery, so long as no con artists from Varun and Monica’s wild past with their old friend and mafia man Stan (Rob van Vuuren) get in their way.


Dir: Yuan Bin Lei
61 min / Singapore / English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese

Baby Queen illuminates the struggles and joys of becoming who you want to be, and what it means to carve out a safe space in a society that is at times cruel to those who are different. Candid and clear-eyed in its portrait of queer life, the film celebrates radical self-acceptance as a personal yet deeply political act.

Dir: Luis Carlos de Alencar
104 / Argentina, Brazil, United States / English, Portuguese, Spanish

This documentary recounts the unprecedented stories of persecution and violence with which the Brazilian civil-military dictatorship acted against the LGBT population and how this same group constituted its resistance, transforming itself into fundamental subjects of the redemocratization process. The coup of 64 did not introduce this prejudice, but, during that period, the LGBT population was considered an enemy of the traditional family, morality and good behavior.

Dir: Jean Carlomusto
92 / USA / English

Drawn to the drag scene as a student in the 1950s and identifying as both butch lesbian and between genders, Esther Newton has spent seven decades writing about and forging queer communities; and her 1972 book ‘Mother Camp: Female Impersonators in America’ is noted as the first rigorous academic/anthropological study of queer community in modern history. ENMMG is a rare look at queer history and gender studies through a living lesbian icon, encompassing amazing archival footage peppered with Esther’s other passion….dog training poodles!

Dir: Daresha Kyi
90 min / USA / English

Did you know there are more than 32,000 mothers in America, many from conservative, Christian backgrounds, who fully accept their LGBTQ+ children? They call themselves “mama bears” because while their love is warm and fuzzy, they fight ferociously to make the world kinder and safer for all LGBTQ+ people. MAMA BEARS explores this growing movement through the lives of three diverse mothers and their LGBT+ offspring.

Dir: Barbora Chalupová
89 min / Czech Republic / Czech

It looks like the Czech society is LGBT+ friendly. But when it comes to legalizing marriage, ignorance and hatred suddenly appear. Czeslaw, and his companions run a campaign to show that the fight for LGBT+ rights in Europe is not over.


Dir: Hriday Rao Chauhan
30 min / India / English, Hindi, Malayalam

An unexpected meeting at a party takes Ahan and Prabhat back to where it all began. They reminisce about the good old times while walking in the park and eventually head to Ahan’s flat for a few more drinks. Flashbacks from the past strike Prabhat as he looks at that corner where the two of them used to hang out before. Meanwhile Ahan discovers the diary that he gave Prabhat a long time ago. Prabhat still carries it.

Dir: Sahil D Gada
28 min / India / English, Hindi

When Miril downloads the dating app for the first time, he comes across a profile of Gandhar and swipes right. Receiving a match after ages, Gandhar, who is craving for a human touch, gets excited and the conversation turns out fruitful. In this excitement, Gandhar forgets to tell Miril, that he’s confined to a wheel chair, because of an unfortunate accident. After a few days of chatting Gandhar agrees to meet Miril. He is ready to face the fate and invites Miril to his place. How does Miril react to Gandhar’s condition? Do these desperate souls depart or touch each other?

Dir: Jageshwar Ratnakar Dhoble
30 min / India / Hindi

It’s about a guy who completely faces two different experiences in a day through a gay dating app. When he met the first guy who treated him like a shit, he used him like tissue paper and threw him out of his house. our protagonists felt completely broken, then suddenly got a message on his dating app about a meeting, when he heard his loving voice and his unique approach, our protagonist decided to meet him. This second guy treated him like a human being, he explained life philosophy through the process of making tea and that is to live in the moment and leave the bad past.

Dir: Abhinav Dubey
12 min / India / Hindi

As the summer holidays approach, Geeta decides to lie about her last day at work to meet Shashi. Conversation between two women unfolds their desires and sexuality which they long to share with each other, till the last boat arrives.

Dir: Kartika Nainan Dubey
16 min / India / English, Hindi

OAS (Dew Drops) is a story of two women who broke up sometime back but are still in love. One has moved on while the other can’t let go. They meet for their last conversation that sums up their dreams and expectations. In this night of introspection, will their relationship revive? Relationships may not last forever but love can and when love stays, it becomes beautiful, just like the dew drops – Oas.

Dir: Jayesh Mukund Apte
35 min / India / Marathi

While India was excitedly celebrating its 25th Independence Day, siblings Madhav and Rukmini’s loving relationship is put to test. Skeletons buried deep in the closet are unearthed as the brother finally learns about his sister’s unconventional past and the choices she was forced to make by a close-minded society.


ALONE (Sola)
Dir: Séneca Claudia Dávalos
15 min / Peru / Quechua, Spanish

After showing herself as she is, Luisa, who’s dedicated to crest traditional Andean textiles, is rejected by her nephew and her whole town. This leads to a series of events that will make her choose between recovering the only family bond she’s got left or choose herself in the process.

Dir: Ary Zara
20 min / Portugal / Portuguese

Larissa, a trans woman and Cláudio, a cis man, meet one night, in the streets of Lisbon. Two people, two realities, who dance their differences away till morning light. In challenge, in surprise, in awe and in recognition. An empowering story, free from violence and filled with light and hope for the better days yet to come.

Honey & Milk
Dir: Dash Donato
14 min / USA / English

As their 13-year relationship ends, Grayson and Alice spend a final weekend together to mourn, celebrate, and dismantle their domestic life before Grayson embarks on a journey of gender expansion.

Dir: Katie McNeice
18 min / Ireland / English

A young dad in rural Ireland must face his anxiety around gender and bullying when his baby is born intersex. In modern-day rural Ireland, David meditates on his own childhood the day before his son is born. He is so haunted by his father bullying him for being weak and effeminate on the family farm that he now doubts his own abilities as a father.

Dir: Ahmad Alyaseer
11 min / Jordan / Arabic

A father and mother are faced with the painful task of washing and shrouding their deceased transgender daughter. Shrouding is an Islamic religious practice that is deemed obligatory to carry out upon death. But when no one agrees to wash her and shame falls onto the family, how far is the father willing to go to make sure his “son” is washed?

Dir: Iniyavan Elumalai
16 min / Netherlands / Dutch, English, Spanish

A cis, straight-identifying male and a non-binary person fall in love. Will they find the courage to be honest with both themselves and the world?

SERVICE  (Palvelus)
Dir: Mikko Makela
15 min / Finland / Finnish

On furlough from his military service, Niko pays his estranged father a visit. Can old wounds heal? Service  (Palvelus) examines the Finnish institution of compulsory military service and its links to ideas of masculinity, from a queer perspective.

Suite Night
Dir: Mahtab Pishghadam
14 min / Iran / Persian

Suite Night is based on a true story. A young woman is desperately attempting to help a loved one abandoned by everyone else.

THE MELTING CREATURES (Les créatures qui fondent au soleil)
Dir: Diego Céspedes
17 min / Chile, France / Spanish

Nataly, a trans woman, is visiting her former lover Leon with her daughter Secreto in a mysterious reclusive community hiding from the Sun. These reunions will bring back the memory of a toxic and abusive relationship to Nataly.

Dir: Sean Lìonadh
15 min / UK / English

After a night of intoxication, a hungover and hysterical Nick wakes up next to his boyfriend Charlie and must conceal him from his own homophobic and dysfunctional family.


A Better Place
Dir: Jennifer Fearnley
33 min / UK / English, Hindi, Swahili

A Better Place is an in depth look at the toxic legacy of British colonial-era laws, which criminalise consensual same-sex love, while at the same time allowing perpetrators of sexual violence to go unpunished. More than 70 countries still criminalise gay sex. In over 30, rape within marriage is still legal. Behind these statistics are the people whose lives are paralysed by these archaic laws.

Dir: Amir Ovadia Steklov
15 min / Germany, Israel / English

Bi The Way is a short, funny, and intimate animated film about Amir’s life-journey as a bisexual cis man – made in a Stop-Motion animation technique. The film tells Amir’s story from early childhood until present day, highlighting his struggle to fit into binary culture making him unacceptable to the hetero-normative community and invisible in the LGBTQIA community.

Dir: Mars Verrone
18 min / Cambodia, USA / Central Khmer, English

Forty years after the Khmer Rouge regime, a transgender man returns to the village where he survived the genocide and miraculously found queer and trans community, including the love of his life.

Dir: Rivkah Beth Medow
17 min / USA / English

A Broadway performer becomes a mother, braiding rhythm and grief and time and joy on her path to connect with her profoundly disabled son. Randi is visually striking and presents as very masculine of center, which defies most people’s image of a mother. Her story blends parenting, family, queerness and disability; it is one rarely told in our culture.

What It Means To Be
Dir: Lea Luiz De Oliveira
35 min / UK / English

Callie is an activist who uses her position in STEM to fight for trans* rights and representation. As she is about to start her medical transition, a diagnosis puts her health and her career into question, she embarks on a journey of self- acceptance and decides to use her music to inspire others.


Dir: Aleksei Borovikov
Media School: Columbia College, Chicago, USA
18 min / USA / English, Russian, Spanish

With his wedding to Carlos approaching, Tony, a young immigrant to the US, invites his conservative elder sister to the ceremony — a fateful decision that forces Tony to choose between his family and his happiness.

Dir: Jasper Caverly
Media School : Victorian College of the Arts, Australia
16 / Australia / English

Brig Huang, a headstrong trans teenager, is propelled into their hangover when a reckless decision that triggers an urgent determination for the ‘morning after’ pill.

Dir: Sadeq Es-haqi
Media School: SOORE Art University of Tehran, Iran
22 min / Iran, Islamic Republic of / Persian

Arash and Rahi are a queer couple from Tehran. They’ve recently moved into a new house. However, their everyday routine is disrupted by the ghost of Rahi’s ex-boyfriend, who died six years ago and is now asking Rahi to continue living with him.

Dir: Paul Ploberger
Media School: Filmakademie Wien, Austria
30 min / Austria / German

A complicated marriage: She has a tumor, he is queer, both of them are keeping it a secret. When their only daughter moves out, he is ready to come out. But that is not going to happen. He arranges a date for a bizarre role-play and she is spying on him, firmly believing that he is having an affair with a younger woman.

Goodbye Again (ধুলোয় রইলো ঢাকা)
Dir: Dwaipayan Mazumder
Media School: ILead – Dept. of Media & Journalism, India
26 min / India / Bengali

The film explores several layers of a complex relationship between two friends who happens to coincidentally meet in a party after a long separation.

Dir: Yi-wei Wu
Media School: Shih Hsin University, Taiwan
29 min / Taiwan / Mandarin Chinese

A teenager is saved by a lifeguard due to a misunderstanding of nearly drowning, which subsequently brings to light long-restrained desires in his heart. As a result, he hopes for a different ending to his summer vacation.

SOFT SIGN (סימן רכות)
Dir: Victoria Uchitel
Media School: The Steve Tisch School of Film and Television, Tel Aviv University, Israel
24 min / Israel / Hebrew

Natalie and her friend Amir, a director, are engaged in art and identity. As they work on a TV report about the upcoming ’96 elections, two young immigrants offer new insight as possibilities arise.

Dir: David Amberg
Media School: University of Southern California, USA
7 min / USA / English

Two years after a gaybashing, Michael and Alex are still feeling the aftershocks in their relationship. Things continue to get complicated, as Michael’s dissociations start becoming reality.