Physically distanced but not necessarily cinematically deprived seems to the mantra of the annual London Indian Film Festival (LIFF), which had gone more UK-wide by travelling to Birmingham and other regions in previous years. Now, in response to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown pulling down the shutters on cinemas, LIFF has decided to expand its festival offering with a virtual avatar.
Its Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition has gone online as part of a hybrid solution, backed by the British Film Institute (BFI) and Bagri Foundation. Nine award-winning short films, which reflect the focus and ethos of the iconic Indian filmmaker and created in his memory, mark the launch of the online version of what is dubbed Europe's largest annual Indian film event.
“On the 99th birth anniversary month of the world's most loved Indian director Satyajit Ray, it seems almost a tryst with destiny to be able to show, for the first time, all the winners together of the renowned Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition, that the Ray family kindly supported because the films must enshrine Ray's empathetic vision of humanity,” said Cary Rajinder Sawhney, Executive and Programming Director of the festival.
“Several of these younger filmmakers, talent spotted by the festival, have gone onto very great things. Given the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival's championing of torch bearing and rare independent films and emerging filmmakers it seems right for us to launch our new online platform with these bright cinematic gems,” he said.
As the coronavirus lockdown continues in the UK, the festival is being supported by an Audience Award from BFI, using the UK's National Lottery funds, and the Bagri Foundation to develop a new part-digital and part cinema-based model strategy, which will be rolled out this year and into the future.