Hollywood, Bollywood unite for digital avatar of London India Film Festival

Hollywood, Bollywood unite for digital avatar of London India Film Festival
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Hollywood, Bollywood unite for digital avatar of London India Film Festival

Hollywood and Bollywood productions alongside independent Indian cinema are being brought together for the first digital version of the annual London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) from Thursday, given the social distancing restrictions imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The collaboration between the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival and Birmingham Indian Film Festival includes a diverse line-up made up of UK premieres of Prakash Jha’s upward mobility schooling drama ‘Pareeksha’, gangster flick ‘Moothon’ and the ‘American Pie’ style comedy ‘The MisEducation of Bindu’, among others.

“We are delighted that we have been successfully able to move the festival into a digital offering during the UK lockdown, and especially want to thank the generous film companies, actors and directors who have contributed their time and effort to help us achieve this high quality free site, which we aim to evolve into the future so that more people across the UK can view Indian indie cinema,” said Cary Rajinder Sawhney, LIFF Executive and Programming Director of the festival.

“As well as classic LIFF films, we have some amazing new UK premieres that will continue LIFF’s reputation for showcasing the best of South Asian cinema,” he said.

With cinemas in England set to open within limited Covid-secure settings only from July 4, one of Europe’s largest film festivals celebrating cinema from the Indian subcontinent has transformed into an online offering through its LoveLIFFAtHome.Com platform.

Besides classics such as Kerala filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s ‘Elippathayam’ (Rat-Trap) and Buddhadeb Das Gupta’s epic award-winning tale ‘Uttara’ (The Wrestlers) to more recent releases, the LIFF also decided to take its “In Conversation” strand digital.

Within that stream, Bollywood star Ayushmann Khuranna will be seen discussing his rise to fame from ‘Vicky Donor’ to ‘Article 15’, which world premiered at the festival last year, and actress Vidya Balan will discuss her new short film ‘Natkhat’ and the importance of safeguarding women’s rights.

Backed by the British Film Institute (BFI) and Bagri Foundation, the festival’s Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition will this year showcase eight films from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“We are delighted to support LIFF’s ambitious plans to present the festival online and, by doing so, ensure that this year’s programme of South Asian cinema reaches an even wider audience,” said Ben Luxford, Head of BFI Audiences.

Alka Bagri, trustee of the Bagri Foundation, added: “It is with great excitement that we celebrate the launch of a virtual festival for our sixth year as title sponsor for LIFF.

“In this unusual year, LIFF has responded swiftly and creatively to ensure a wide range of fantastic features, talks and interviews. Some are from the archives, with past hit films, whilst others are exciting new releases accessible for only a few hours.

“The festival concludes with conversations with Hollywood star Freida Pinto of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ fame, and Canadian Indian director Deepa Mehta.

“Mixing it up further, the festival explores issues around Black Lives Matter and racism with a rare screening of the timeless, ‘Mississippi Masala’.

Starring a young Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury, Mira Nair’s classic film explores issues of race, class and privilege as an Indian woman born in Africa and raised in America, falls in love with a black African American man in rural Mississippi,” LIFF said in a statement.

The festival, which runs until July 5, will offer time-bound film screenings for UK audiences, with all interviews being made accessible worldwide.

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