Why the London Indian Film Festival is inspiring the odds

Smita Sarkar

Smita Sarkar

Smita Sarkar

The South Asian diaspora in UK’s biggest cities London and Birmingham will be transcended back to Asia through the weeklong London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) from the 14th to 21st of July 2016.

Handpicked by a passionate team of cultural and film critics, the films will span 15 major South Asian languages, including Urdu, Konkani, Nepali, Bengali and Sinhalese.

“We promise that whatever movie you decide to attend, you will be entertained, informed and perhaps even a little shocked!” wrote Cary Rajinder Sawhney, the Executive and Programming Director of LIFF.

The festival will be hosting its first Transgender movie – I am Not He…She by the Bangalore based Director B S Lingadevaru. Based on a true story, the movie deals with a fearless young boy Madesha, who cherishes his female persona and moves to Bangalore and gets a perilous surgery to become a woman.

Sri Lankan Directors Kalpana and Vindana Ariyawasna will be showcasing their family drama Dirty, Yellow, Darkness to explore the subject of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), inspired by true life events. An advertising professional Vishwa is forced into a mental asylum to fight his fears and win back his beautiful wife, Samadi.

Kerela based Director Jayaraj will be showcasing a heart-wrenching drama, Ottaal (The Trap), based on the roots of child slave labour.

A still from the film I'm Not She...He

A still from the film I’m Not She…He

The 7th film festival, brought to you by the Bagri Foundation, have chosen films that will be dealing with hard-hitting issues of the South Asian countries.

Alka Bagri said, “This year’s programme epitomises the diversity and dynamism of South Asian cinema, and through films, debates and panel discussions, we will explore topical issues such as gender, identity, mental health and equality”.

The festival will be opening with the Leena Yadav’s Parched, based on women’s empowerment. Pakistani Director and double Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, will be introducing her punch in the guts, documentary, A Girl In The River – The Price of Forgiveness.

“The overarching theme this year is women. Women filmmakers dealing with strong subjects dominate the programme. The idea is to highlight their outstanding work,” said Naman Ramachandran, the Programming Head of LIFF.

Apart from movie screenings, there will be discussions, on-stage interview opportunities and Q&A sessions at the BFI Southbank – with veteran actress Sharmila Tagore, Bolly- Holly Director Shekhar Kapur and South India’s greatest superstar Kamal Hassan.

The Festival will be presenting the prestigious Satyajit Ray’s short film competition 2016, with prize money of 1,000 pounds to the winning film. The short film programme will be privately screened at the ICA on Wednesday 20th July and the winner will be announced and screened on the closing gala night, along with the world premiere of Ketan Mehta’s intense Toba Tek Singh based on incidents of patients locked in a Punjabi health asylum during the partition of India.

A still from the film Fireflies in the Abyss

A still from the film Fireflies in the Abyss

LIFF will be screening the first Nepali film Kalo Pothi, by Director Min Bahadur Bham.
The Nepali theme will continue with an absorbing documentary Fireflies in the Abyss, by Director Chandrasekhar Reddy – about an 11-year-old Nepali boy Suraj, employed in the ‘rat-hole’ mines of the Jaintia Hills in India.

Bangladeshi Director Abu Shahed Emon will showcase his film Jalaler Golpo, a captivating and hard-hitting film about an infant abandoned as a baby in a river.

The week is sure to give London a taste of real Asia – away from the glitzy, make-believe pantomime of Bollywood. London can’t wait!

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