Tomorrow marks the opening night of the 2017 New York Indian Film Festival, and there is a lot to get excited about if you are in town for the fest.
We've been given access to a few of the film competing for the festival's best picture award and it's a solid group of films that includes three films recently recognized by India's most prestigious film honor, the National Award. These five films are among the festival's most exciting entries, and one of them landed on my list of best Indian film of last year. Check out the gallery below for the rundown on these five films, along with a few bonus recommendations for films I've had the privilege of checking out over the last few months.
Shubashish Bhutiani's Hotel Salvation was one of my favorite Indian films of 2016. I saw it in conjunction with its Asian premiere at the Busan International Film Festival and was blown away by its quiet charm and the remarkable maturity of this story from first time feature director, the 24-year-old Bhutiani. Hotel Salvation appears toward the end of this year's festival, here's what I had to say about it in my review from last August:
Writer and director Shubhashish Bhutiani's Hotel Salvation is depiction of an obedient son's attempt to guide his father through his last days is a not the depressing philosophical drudgery that one might expect. Instead the film is filled with laughter, joy, revelations, and a kind of spirit of redemption that the title suggests.
The script is minimal, efficient, and wonderfully adroit in its ability to establish characters and relationships through suggestion, rather than blatant demonstration. The actors in turn are allowed to establish themselves through their mannerisms, and Lalit Behl (Daya) and [Adil] Hussain are particularly exceptional in that regard.
Hotel Salvation definitely takes on some weighty topics in its search for enlightenment, but thankfully Bhutiani takes on most of the heavy lifting for the audience. We think about life and death, sin and redemption, filial versus financial duty, and the terrible, wonderful bonds of family; and we do so in a wonderfully charming way.
In the end, Hotel Salvation is a celebration of all the things we miss when we stop looking around at just how amazing life can be, and sometimes a reminder is all it takes to remember to smile.
Hotel Salvation plays next Saturday, May 6th at 6PM at Theater 2 Village East in NY.