The Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival, regarded as Europe’s largest Indian film festival, returns for its 8th edition this month, running from 22-29 June coinciding with both the BFI’s India on Film programme and the UK-India Year of Culture
With cutting-edge films screening at 11 cinemas across London, including BFI Southbank, The British Museum and a number of Picturehouse venues, this year’s festival certainly reaffirms its position as the ‘punk-rock of Indian cinema’.
The festival opens on 22 June at BFI Southbank with the red-carpet premiere of historical epic The Black Prince by Kavi Raz (pictured above). This powerful UK-produced film was launched at Cannes, and stars Indian music singer Satinder Sartaaj, iconic actress Shabana Azmi, Jason Flemyng and Amanda Root. The film dramatises the little-known story of the last King of Punjab who was abducted by the British Raj to be mentored by Queen Victoria.
But The Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival goes beyond merely showcasing what’s hot in South Asian cinema. Hosting both the Satyajit Ray short film award and ICON awards – both of which highlight emerging talent and lesser-known film makers – the festival aims to spark meaningful cultural debates and leave a lasting impression that stretches far beyond the realms of the popular Bollywood genre.
‘We are delighted to bring London audiences a carefully curated selection of the very best new Indian and South Asian independent cinema,’ says Cary Rajinder Sawhney, LIFF Director. ‘All films are English subtitled, offering a rare window into over a billion South Asian lives. This year’s selection includes premieres of new comedies, gripping thrillers, shocking horror and insightful true life documentaries, as well as bringing together UK previews of major award-winning films from the world’s greatest film festivals.’
This year’s films, including premieres of new comedies, gripping thrillers, shocking horror and documentaries, offer a rare window into over a billion South Asian lives
Many films will be followed by live filmmaker Q&As. Special guests include legendary Oscar-nominated director of Lagaan, Ashutosh Gowariker, in conversation (BSL interpreted), plus a chance to see his Bollywood epic Jodhaa Akbar (2008) on the big screen; seminal British Asian activist and director Pratibha Parmar discussing her early films and the pioneering Shakti LGBTQ+ movement; and master film maker and BFI London Film Festival Sutherland award-winner Adoor Gopalakrishnan attending a preview of his latest film Once Again (2016).
On closing night (29 June), head once again to BFI Southbank to see the surreal Malayalam road-movie thriller Sexy Durga. Set in Kerala and directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, the tale of a hitch-hiking couple who accidentally get into the car of deranged gangsters won this year’s prestigious Tiger Award for best film in Rotterdam.
‘We are excited to celebrate with LIFF the art of Indian independent cinema in this UK-India Year of Culture,’ says Title Sponsor Dr Alka Bagri of the Bagri Foundation. ‘This year’s programme is a vibrant and diverse mixture of films which explore all aspects of human experience, tackling hard-hitting issues through fiction and documentary. LIFF continues to offer stimulating talks, bringing together important figures of the LGBTQ+ community, and to propose the timely and critical discussion around the futures of artists and filmmakers in the face of Brexit.’
The festival also receives major support from Grange Hotels, Sun Mark Ltd, and is funded by the BFI’s National Lottery Film Festivals Fund.