Screened in ten cinemas across the capital, and this year expanding to include two additional theatres in Birmingham, the London Indian Film Festival is the largest South Asian film festival in Europe. Now in its seventh year, the annual celebration of Indian and South Asian filmmaking encompasses features, documentaries and short films by acclaimed and emerging filmmakers alike.
With 2016’s festival the biggest yet, the films selected represent a diversity of style, theme and cultural experience. Scroll up for a snapshot of the range of films that made up this year’s event.
A community of cultures
Part of the ethos of the festival is to present films across a range of South Asian languages, with the intention of reflecting the linguistic diversity of the UK’s Indian and South Asian communities. Partly funded by the British Film Institute, the festival is able to support young South Asian filmmakers with its cross-cultural platform.
Opening night saw the English premiere of Leena Yadav’s Parched, a tale of friendships put to the test by the constraints of life in a Gujarati desert village. The red carpet event was held at Westminster’s Cineworld Haymarket, and featured a Q&A with the movie’s director.
On closing night, Ketan Mehta’s Toba Tek Singh received its world premiere at BFI Southbank. Based on Manto’s classic 1955 short story, the film stars Pankaj Kapur as Bishen Singh, a Sikh inmate of an asylum in newly partitioned Pakistan trying to get back to his hometown.
This year’s edition of the festival hosted its first film with a transgender protagonist, the drama Naanu Avanalla... Avalu (I Am Not He… She) based on the true story of one person’s transition amid the pressures of a conservative family dynamic. Moving from rural Karnataka to Bangalore, Madesha looks to the Hijra community – made up of trans women – for support. Scroll down for a Q&A with director B.S. Lingadevaru.
As an integral part of the programme, the LIFF hosts talks and interviews with some of the most important figures in South Asian filmmaking. In the video below actor, director and producer Farhan Akhtar talks to the LIFF about making his directorial and acting debuts, as well as working with Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan in Don.
Also below is an interview between one of Bollywood’s most internationally recognisable stars, Irrfan Khan (The Amazing Spider-Man, Life of Pi, The Lunchbox), and Asif Kapadia, the acclaimed director of non-fiction works like Amy and Senna.
A platform for film
As the festival looks towards its eighth edition in summer 2017, the audience – and appetite – for the films it shows is growing. Through its close relationship with the BFI, the festival has been able to host a selection of films on BFI Player for months after the final screening. With partnerships across the British film community, the festival is well positioned to provide a platform for an expanding community of filmmakers and spectators alike.