The lineup of the 8th annnual London Indian Film Festival has been announced and the programming is as strong as ever. The full press release appears below, but there are several films in the program about which Londonders should be especially excited.
Running from June 22nd through the 29th, the London Indian FF is one of the most adventurous of the growing number of Indian film fests around the world, thanks in no small part to programmer Naman Ramachandran. Ramachandran has not only wrangled some of the most exciting and buzzy Indian films of the year, he also has very Screen-Anarchy friendly tastes, which makes his slate one of the highlights of my year, every year.
Among the films that SA readers should be sure not to miss are Sanal Kumar Sasidharan's IFFR Tiger award winning thriller Sexy Durga (review here), Berlin award winner Newton from director Amit V Masurkar, ode to cinema has communal experience The Cinema Travellers (review here), Ashutosh Gowarikar's Mughal-era epic Jodhaa Akbar, Kannada language indie comedy Egghead, Marathi social horror Lapachhapi (Hide and Seek), a charming tale of a couple of young boys in search of their first taste of a western delicacy in the Marathi language Half-Ticket, and the life affirming tale about embracing death in Hotel Salvation (review here). For the complete lineup, click through the gallery below
Sexy Durga &The Black Prince bookend Europe's Largest Indian Film Festival
The Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival, regarded as Europe’s largest Indian film festival returns for its 8th edition at 11 cinemas across London including BFI Southbank from 22-29 June, with a new and exciting selection of fabulous cutting-edge films that reaffirm the festival’s position as the ‘punk-rock of Indian cinema’. The festival is title sponsored by the Bagri Foundation with a major support from Grange Hotels, Sun Mark Ltd, and is funded by the BFI's National Lottery Film Festivals Fund.
As an edgy tie-in, to UK-India Year of Culture and complementing the BFI’s India on Film programme, the festival opens on 22nd June at the BFI Southbank with the red carpet premiere of the historical epic, The Black Prince by Kavi Raz. This powerful UK-produced film was launched at Cannes, and stars Indian music singer Satinder Sartaaj, iconic actress Shabana Azmi (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Fire), Jason Flemyng (Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) and Amanda Root (Jane Eyre). The film dramatises the little-known story of the last King of Punjab who was abducted by the British Raj to be mentored by Queen Victoria.
Back into the 21st Century for the closing night, on 29th June, BFI Southbank rocks again with the surreal Malayalam road-movie thriller Sexy Durga set in Kerala, directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, which this year won the prestigious Tiger Award for best film at Rotterdam. A tale of a hitch-hiking couple accidentally getting into the car of deranged gangsters and trying to escape a road to hell.
The Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival continues to not simply reflect what's happening in South Asian cinema but instead sparks cutting edge debate through special events, the Satyajit Ray short film award, and ICON awards. LIFF highlights emerging talent and champions lesser known great film makers through the awards presentations. Meanwhile, the festival’s special events recognise the full diversity of film making and South Asian experience from remembering LGTQ+ activism via the works of British Asian auteur and activist, Pratibha Parmar, to cutting edge 21st Century Indian virtual reality film making. The programme will also explore the impact of Brexit on British Asian and other BAME film makers as well as preview the new Indian-UK co-production The Hungry, helmed by Bornila Chatterjee, based on Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus.
Cary Rajinder Sawhney, LIFF Director, says: “We are delighted to bring London audiences a carefully curated selection of the very best new Indian and South Asian independent cinema; all films are English subtitled, offering a rare window into over a billion South Asian lives. This year's selection includes premieres of new comedies, gripping thrillers, shocking horror and insightful true life documentaries as well as bringing together UK previews of major award-winning films from the world's greatest film festivals."
Title Sponsor Dr Alka Bagri of the Bagri Foundation adds: "We are excited to celebrate with LIFF the art of Indian independent cinema in this UK India Year of Culture. This year’s programme is a vibrant and diverse mixture of films which explore all aspects of human experience, tackling hard-hitting issues through fiction and documentary. LIFF continues to offer stimulating talks, bringing together important figures of the LGBTQ+ community, and to propose the timely and critical discussion around the futures of artists and filmmakers in the face of Brexit."
LIFF and UK India Year of Culture
The UK and Europe's largest Indian and South Asian film festival has this year been profiled by both the UK government agencies, the British Council and the Indian High Commission as a major flagship in the delivery of the cultural element of UK-India Year of Culture. The festival has joined forces with the BFI for their year-long India on Film programme at BFI Southbank and online via BFI Player.
Award-winning films screening at BFI Southbank, Cineworld and Picturehouse cinemas:
Many films will be followed by live filmmaker Q&As. Special guests will include:
Screenings at Cineworld Empire Leicester Square, Wembley and Wandsworth include the world premiere of Tamil comedy, Ticket The Movie (Raaghav Ranganthan, 2017), anarchic Bollywood comedy Badman (Soumik Sen, 2017) and N Padmakumar's inspirational Mumbai drama Billion Colour Story (2016). The festival experiments for the first time with horror with the disturbing Hide and Seek (Vishal Furia, 2016), plus the European Premiere of Pakistani Gangster thriller, Whirlpool (Harune Massey 2017).
New venue partners for this evolving festival continue to help it serve a broader audience and this year welcomes new venues such as the world-famous Science Museum with a first Indian screening on its giant IMAX screen, meanwhile the prestigious Cineworld Empire Leicester Square joins the festival family, as do Picturehouse Stratford, Nehru Centre and Bernie Grant Centre in Tottenham. The festival’s long term venues include BFI Southbank, Picturehouse Central and Crouch End Picturehouse as well as Cineworld Wembley and Wandsworth.
There will also be an opportunity for the public to put on headsets and explore virtual reality (VR) for unexpected views of India, with short films and documentaries, transporting audiences from rural villages to passionate Mumbai street protests, and even a supernatural vignette, at BFI Southbank on the weekend 24-25 June.
LIFF in Birmingham:
The festival also takes place in Birmingham for a third year, with a rebrand as the Birmingham Indian Film Festival, from 23 June-2nd July, marking the Festival’s permanent commitment to the region. Screenings will take place at Midlands Arts Centre mac, Cineworld Broad Street and The Mockingbird. The festival will show highlights of the London programme including opening night with The Black Prince and closing night with Sexy Durga. The Birmingham programme is in partnership with the citywide USTAV Festival of South Asian culture.
Following the festival, selected LIFF films will be made available on the BFI’s VOD service, BFI Player. For more, visit www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk