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Dive into diversity: Short film reviews from the Kashish Pride Film Festival

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Karishma Jangid
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Kashish FIlm Fest- Shorts

From Bonita Rajpurohit's 'IYKYK' to the Italian short film 'Razze Pure,' here are reviews of the interesting short films showcased at the Kashish Pride Film Festival 2024.

Exploring stories about different kinds of people in movies can be both enjoyable and meaningful. Festivals that spotlight films about LGBTQIA+ experiences are important because they share these diverse stories with a wide audience. Recently, we attended the Kashish Pride Film Festival, where we had the pleasure of watching some truly remarkable movies. Among them, 'Night Queen' stood out as a favorite. It tells the story of Laxmikant, who identifies as a woman despite living as a man. The film is touching and the performance is excellent. If you're curious to learn more about the films we saw at the Kashish festival, we invite you to read our reviews. We believe you'll find these stories captivating and insightful.

Chitthi

Director - Sarthak Chauhan

Sarthak Chauhan’s 'Chitthi' is as impressive as it is haunting. The film narrates a poetic letter written by a queer man to his estranged mother. Through the letter, the film explores the loneliness of a queer man from a marginalized community in an urban space. Just as his mother lost the man that the protagonist sees in his dreams, he has lost his lover too. Even though he knows that his mother will never accept him, he wonders whether she would relate to the abandonment he feels. He wonders if this is how she felt too, trying to hold on to some connection with her. This commentary on intergenerational trauma gently expresses a lot of pain. This melancholic and impressively vulnerable poetry is portrayed with many symbolic, aesthetic, and experimental shots. The film plays with colors representing the varied emotions of the protagonist. High on emotional commentary and cinematic value, the film establishes Sarthak as a promising director whose work speaks volumes within a few minutes.



Also Read: Kashish Pride Film Festival Day 4: The Best of Iris short films explore truth, equality, open marriage, and more!

If

Director - Tathagata Ghosh

Even though this one doesn’t realize its full potential, it is an intriguing film. In rural Bengal, Fatima and Jaya are in love. They spend their days loving each other and lazing around. However, when Jaya’s (Adrija Majumder) bedridden father decides to marry her off, she is unable to revolt. Fatima (Shivamrita Chakraborty), on the other hand, is upset with Jaya but eventually lets her go. Soon enough, fate almost makes them cross each other’s paths again. If has the essence of a Tagore story. It captures the joy of love and the pain of estrangement. The film delves deep into the mourning of one’s identity simply because they are not allowed to live it. Moreover, the actors perform so authentically that you root for them. Perhaps the only disappointing part is that the plot becomes a bit predictable towards the climax. Apart from that, If is a melancholic but heart-touching film.

 

If You Know You Know

Director - Bonita Rajpurohit

Bonita, known for LSD 2, shows her mastery in portraying pain with humor in her directorial, 'If You Know You Know'. The story revolves around Kusum, a trans woman, and her dating experiences. The film presents awkward and funny dates, gradually revealing the difficulties trans women face in dating. As the film progresses, it becomes clear how difficult dating is for trans women. And I don’t mean ‘difficult’ in the sense that it is simply hard to find the right person. It is that nobody tries to understand Kusum; they don’t see beyond the label of ‘trans woman.’ In their eyes, her identity is limited solely to her sexuality. Such a point of view often leaves very little room for authentic intimacy. How can you love someone if you focus only on one part of them, isolating everything else? Cinematically, the film is impressive with its dialogue, camera work, and editing. Bonita's acting shines through her subtle expressions and reluctance. IYKYK is an impressive and enjoyable short film done right. 

Love+

Director- Tushar Tyagi

Love+ may seem tokenistic at first glance, but it raises a crucial question: How much acceptance is true acceptance? Ajay (Ankur Thakur) and Utkarsh (Shray Rai Tiwari), living together happily, face a dilemma. Though their parents largely accept their relationship, Ajay's HIV+ status remains a sensitive issue. Tensions rise when Ajay invites Utkarsh to join him on Instagram Live but Utkarsh hesitates. What holds him back? Love+ is a simple yet powerful film that underscores the universality of love, regardless of HIV status. It emphasizes that AIDS is just one of many diseases, and the associated stigma is unjustified. The actors deliver authentic performances, particularly Utkarsh's mother. Love+ is a heartwarming and enlightening viewing experience. 

Night Queen

Director - Naireeta Dasgupta

Night Queen was my favorite film at the Kashish Pride Film Festival. There is nothing to dislike. The film feels like a warm hug after a long day, filling you with hope. Lucknow-based Laxmikant (Vipin Sharma), a doting father and adorable husband, feels trapped. On the outside, he is a man but has always felt like a woman. He goes to therapy to deal with the confusion. But the clock is ticking and he can no longer pretend. Night Queen is the story of a woman’s acceptance of herself despite societal taboos. The script is sensitive and considerate, making you fall in love with Laxmi’s story. I absolutely love how as the story progresses, old songs play in the background implying Laxmi’s current relationship with herself. The dialogues, too, are effective. The best parts of the film, however, are the performances. Take a bow, Vipin Sharma! What a stellar performance! What especially stands out is the femininity he portrays; it is subtle and not performative at all. Sheeba Chadha gives a powerful performance as his wife Charu, navigating emotionally complex scenes with ease. Together, they give the script the strength it deserves, resulting in a splendid short film.

You Can’t Get What You Want But You Can Get Me

Director - Samira Elagoz, Z Walsh

Unlike its title, the film is short but, like its title, it is intriguing and refreshing. The film consists of a series of screenshots. So, is it really a film? I don’t know. Is it experimental? Yes. Most importantly, does it work? Definitely, yes. You Can’t Get... revolves around two trans men, S and Z, i.e., Samira and Zoe. Through a series of screenshots, the film narrates the blossoming of their relationship. It starts with a long-distance relationship, and as it progresses, we see them going through and growing through difficult experiences together, such as top surgery. The film is also highly intimate, featuring authentic nude images from time to time. Although some of these images are sexual, their intent is to convey the intimacy between the couple and enhance the connection between the couple and the audience in a limited time. The film is honest and raw, making you root for S and Z wholeheartedly. While the film uses the cinematic medium more like a PowerPoint presentation, it still engages and entertains as a film should.



Razze Pure

Director- Giuseppe Zampella

Razze Pure is, to put it simply, wild. The film explores and even advocates for promiscuity, the practice of having multiple sexual partners. Young farmers Danilo, Gianni, and Anthia are at a farm for their summer course. Danilo feels sexually attracted to both Gianni and Anthia. Anthia, on the other hand, desires Gianni but doesn't mind Danilo. Will Gianni agree? The various combinations of this threesome are tested as desire, miscommunication, and jealousy come to the fore. The film boldly critiques the heteronormative concept of having only one sexual partner at a time. Using goats as a metaphor, it argues against the so-called ‘Pure Breed,’ implying a preference for multiple partners. Generally, threesomes are viewed with a male gaze. However, Razze Pure looks at this threesome with a gaze that simply desires physical intimacy. The sensual and visually aesthetic scene where Danilo, Gianni, and Anthia dance together gives even the movie ‘Challengers’ tough competition. It puts Danilo at the center not because he is a man, but because he wants both of them by his side. Neither of his partners is degraded to give him pleasure. I have only one concern, though. I don’t know whether it’s a linguistic or cultural barrier, but I felt disconnected from the film at times. I don’t mean to ask for spoon-feeding, but sometimes the dialogue failed to convey the situation. Maybe overly depending on interpretation is not always a great idea. However, despite this, the actors brilliantly portray the story, making it an exciting and intense watch. How I wish it was a feature film! I would love to watch more of it.

Saxyfrage

Director- David Luis Pérez, Ana Alejos

'Saxyfrage' feels like a poetic ode and an exploration of loneliness. The protagonist follows the man he loves, only to be met with rejection. This man conforms to heterosexual norms but feels estranged from himself. Hurting from unrequited love and loneliness, the protagonist dives into the sea, reliving the darkest moments of his life and eventually finding requitement. The film is poetically vulnerable, subtly but powerfully depicting the loneliness of two men. However, I couldn’t relate to the film, which is why it didn’t impact me much. Saxyfrage is the kind of movie that will tug at your heart if you can relate and leave you with little impact if you can’t.

 Which movie has intrigued you the most? Tell us in the comments.

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KASHISH Pride Film Festival