Challenging stereotypes of India and South Asia, and wrestling with some very hard issues the 7th Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival returns to Birmingham this summer bringing with it a series of high profile actors and directors.
The festival opens with Bollywood star turned Film Producer, Ajay Devgn and Director, Leena Yadav visiting the city to support the highly acclaimed opening night film Parched; a Thelma and Louise-esque buddy movie set in the desert villages of India’s Gujarat.
The diverse programme of brand new features and documentaries, including films directed by power-packed women filmmakers that give the Bechdel Test a run for its money, including Double Oscar® winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy punch in the guts documentary, A Girl In The River – The Price of Forgiveness which showcases in a double bill with Song of Lahore, a charming documentary about Pakistani musicians, Sachal Jazz Ensemble, who take their music from Pakistan to New York.
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 mac Cinema, Cannon Hill Park with Director B S Lingadevaru, taking part in a post film Q&A.
The festival encourages audiences from all cultures to celebrate the very best of independent South Asian films that introduce viewers to a world away from the better known Bollywood movies and celebrates the diversity of the subcontinent in terms of language and geography.
This year’s festival reflects the linguistic diversity of UK’s South Asian communities. The carefully curated programme will include major South Asian languages including Punjabi, Bangla, Urdu, Tamil and Malyalam, and includes films from Bangladesh and Pakistan.
This celebration of regional diversity includes a very rare on-stage Q&A at Cineworld Broad Street, with one of South Asia’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, starring in the 80s superhit films, Ek Duuje Ke Liye, Sadma, and India’s new milennium Oscar entry, Hey Ram. He is adored by millions of fans, worldwide.
Also in the line-up is a special screening of the risque film Brahman Naman, directed by India’s leading indie director Q who will take part in conversation after the screening of the hilarious coming-of-age comedy which 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 with female director, Shefali Bhushan in a post-screening Q&A while 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.
The closing night gala, with legendary director Ketan Mehta attending, 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.
We are delighted that the festival is being supported by key local partners in Birmingham including mac and Sampad Arts, while Film Birmingham and the newly opened Park Regis Hotel join the festival for the first year.
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”.
Participating cinemas in Birmingham are: Cineworld Broad Street and mac Cinema, Cannon Hill Park.