London Indian Film Festival Fearlessly Presses Feminist and LGBTQ+ Buttons
Challenging stereotypes of India and South Asia, and wrestling with some very hard issues the 7th Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival returns this Summer.
The diverse programme of brand new features, documentaries and shorts includes seven films directed by power-packed women filmmakers that give the Bechdel Test a run for its money, including the Thelma and Louise-esque opening night buddy movie, Parched, set in the desert villages of India’s Gujarat (female director Leena Yadav and Producer and Bollywood star Ajay Devgn, is expected). Double Oscar® winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, introduces her punch in the guts, documentary, A Girl In The River – The Price of Forgiveness.
With a strong LGBTQ+ following the festival proudly hosts its first Transgender movie based on an empowering true story – I am Not He…She, at BFI Southbank, supported by MAC Cosmetics and Sun Mark Ltd, amongst others. Bangalore Director BS Lingadevaru, is expected.
Reflecting the linguistic diversity of UK’s South Asian communities, the carefully curated programme will include 15 major languages, including films from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. All films are English subtitled.
This celebration of Indian regional diversity includes a very rare on-stage Q&A at BFI Southbank with one of South India’s greatest ever superstars – Kamal Haasan, who moved from child actor to Tamil cinema star, to produce, write and direct some of India’s most acclaimed features, including many Bollywood hits. He is adored by millions of fans, worldwide.
The closing night gala, is the world premiere of the incredibly moving and intense Toba Tek Singh, which focuses on patients locked in a Punjabi mental health hospital during the Partition (legendary director Ketan Mehta, is expected).
Sri Lankan breakout filmmakers Kalpana & Vindana Ariyawansa explore the taboo subject of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in a very personal family drama Dirty, Yellow, Darkness, while at the ICA, Director Jayaraj from Kerala, presents the Berlinale Crystal-Bear winner, Ottaal (The Trap), a heart-wrenching drama, based on the roots of child slave labour.
On a lighter note the festival also celebrates two icons of cinema with on-stage interviews with Satyajit Ray’s favourite actress Sharmila Tagore from Kolkata and the only Indian filmmaker to truly cross from Bollywood to Hollywood – Shekhar Kapur, who will discuss his plans for Elizabeth 3. Let’s hope that Cate Blanchett continues her reign in this expected sequel.
Also in the line-up is a special screening of the risque film Brahman Naman, directed by India’s leading indie director Q, the hilarious coming-of-age comedy is exclusive to Netflix. The Mumbai music industry focused Jugni, shows that love and a damn-good Punjabi song, can conquer even the toughest hearts (female director, Shefali Bhushan, is expected).
As well as synchronous screenings in London and Birmingham from 14-24 July, the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival goes live on digital, with the festival showing a selection of films on BFI Player into the Autumn.
Festival Patron Tony Matharu, who is also our founding sponsor, from Grange Hotels, continues to support with full fervour, and the festival welcomes back supporters including title sponsor, the Bagri Foundation, who share our passion for South Asian arts and culture. The British Film Institute and Cineworld Cinemas have supported LIFF since year one. The festival enjoys on-going essential support from major sponsor, Sun Mark Ltd.
The Director of the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival, Cary Rajinder Sawhney states:
“We aim to showcase films that entertain but challenge and make one think about the many social issues happening in India today, and that includes many positive changes including the fact that so many emerging Indian women filmmakers who are producing world-class films that are giving their male counterparts a serious run for their money”.
Title Sponsor Alka Bagri of the Bagri Foundation says:
“We are delighted to support such an incredible festival which reveals the richness of South Asian culture and offers a wonderful platform for emerging talent. 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. We look forward to being joined by two acclaimed figures of Indian cinema: Kamal Haasan and Shekhar Kapur who will take us on their cinematic journey”.
LIFF presents the prestigious annual Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition, in association with the Bagri Foundation, with a prize of £1,000 to the winning film. The short film programme screens at the ICA on Wednesday 20th July and the winning short will be announced at the closing night gala, on 21st July, at BFI Southbank. The festival continues in Birmingham, until 24th July.
Participating cinemas’ in London are: Cineworld (Haymarket, O2, Wandsworth, Wembley), BFI Southbank, ICA, Picture House Central, Crouch End Picturehouse, East London’s rustic Boleyn Cinema, with Cineworld Broad Street and Midland Arts Centre (MAC), in Birmingham.
Director Leena Yadav tells a wonderfully joyous and inspiring tale of female comradery.
– Q&A with Director Leena Yadav and other special guests.
- 14 JULY | 18:00 | CINEWORLD HAYMARKET, LONDON
- 15 JULY | 19:00 | CINEWORLD BROAD STREET, BIRMINGHAM
- 16 JULY | 17.30 | CINEWORLD WEMBLEY, LONDON
- 20 JULY | 20.40 | BFI SOUTHBANK, LONDON
Closing Night | World Premiere: TOBA TEK SINGH
– Hindi / Punjabi with English subtitles | 75 min | India 2016 | Dir: Ketan Mehta | with: Pankaj Kapur, Vinay Pathak.
Acclaimed director Ketan Mehta delivers this unforgettably moving and at times joyous version of Manto’s legendary story, produced by the Zeal for Unity project.
– Q&A with Director Ketan Mehta and other special guests.
- 21 JULY | 18:00 | BFI SOUTHBANK, LONDON
- 24 JULY | 18:00 | CINEWORLD BROAD STREET, BIRMINGHAM
– Icons from India, polymath Kamal Haasan (whose films have the highest number of Academy Award submissions from India), and director of the exquisite BAFTA & Oscar® winning Elizabeth & The Golden Age films, Shekhar Kapur, will give masterclasses at BFI Southbank, with the famous female scion of the Tagore family, who married into Indian royalty, Sharmila Tagore, speaking at the historic art deco cinema, Cineworld Haymarket.
– A 2016 highlight, is a rare opportunity to hear female filmmakers like Pakistan’s double Oscar®-winning Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Mumbai’s multi-award winning Leena Yadav, documentary filmmaker Rinku Kalsy and other special guests, talking about their unique careers and exploring commonalities of experience, with women filmmakers around the world.
– The UK premiere of the restored verison of the 1948 film Kalpana (Imagination), by the legandary dancer, Padma Vibhushan Uday Shankar (brother of the late Sitar stalwart Ravi Shankar), starring the legendary dancer and actress Padmini (Mera Naam Joker/Thillana Mohanambal), in her cinematic debut, gets a one off special screening in Birmingham.
– Winner of the best directing debut at the Venice Film Festival, the Hindi language film directed by Ruchika Oberoi, Island City, tells three stories, of a drone employee at a soulless corporation wins an office competition entitling him to a whole day of fun at the mall; a domineering head of a family who suffers a stroke and is on life support, and a woman who is leading a mechanical existence blossoms, when she gets a series of anonymous love letters.
– Actor, Leader, Hero, God. For his fans, the superstar Rajinikanth is all of these. Men from various generations alter their lives, sell their belongings, and place fandom above their families in devotion to the iconic actor, a man who has inspired a fanatic cult following across the world ranging from India to Japan. This is explored in the riveting documentary, For The Love Of A Man.
– Made under the Zeal for Unity India-Pakistan filmmaking initiative, Khaema mein matt jhankain (Don’t Peek Into The Tent) and Jeewan Hathi (Elephant In The Room) explore different facets of life in Pakistan. Tamil Naidu’s hottest young filmmaker M Manikandan returns to the festival, after last year’s hit Kaaka Muttai (Crow’s Egg), with the stylish, twisted plot thriller, with Kutrame Thandanai.
– The new tale by Kaushik Ganguly, one of West Bengal’s most accomplished directors, depicts a love-torn nostalgia for the passing age of film called Cinemawala, while LIFF’s first Nepali screening is directed by new hot-property director Min Bahadur Bham, who has been delighting audiences around Europe with his film Kalo Pothi (The Black Hen).
– In prior years, the festival has featured much lauded “Screen Talk” events at the BFI Southbank, with Slumdog Millionaire/The Lunchboxstar Irrfan Khan in conversation with the Oscar® and Grammy award® winning director Asif Kapadia, Bollywood producer, director and actor Farhan Akhtar, stopping traffic, and stalwart directors Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Mani Ratnam delivering masterclasses.