Manchester Indian Film Festival 2022 celebrates exceptional indie films

Manchester Indian Film Festival 2022 celebrates exceptional indie films

Following its inaugural opening in 2021, the Manchester Indian Film Festival (MIFF) returns for a second year with a more extensive and spectacular programme of independent films from the Indian subcontinent.

Supported by Manchester Mega Mela, the official festival opening night saw the city's premiere of 'Little English' (pictured) – a laugh-out-loud story of a dysfunctional Punjabi family by first-time director Pravesh Kumar. The evening also included a special Q&A session with Manchester-based actor, host and spoken word artist Ani Kaprekar.

Kumar's directorial debut story is set in sunny Slough, UK. The film is about a newlywed Punjabi girl, Simmy, who unexpectedly faces disappointment when her British Asian husband does a runner on the wedding night. With only a basic grasp of English, she cannot leave the house, surrounded by her kooky in-laws. She finds an unlikely ally in her wayward brother-in-law, Harry, and a secret romance blossoms. The movie explores how Simmy finds the courage to honour her heart and pursue her dreams.

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Starring emerging talents Rameet Rauli and Viraj Juneja as Simmy and Harry, supported by an impressive cast including Seema Bowri, Madhav Sharma, Goldy Notay, Ameet Chana of Bend It Like Beckham fame, and Nikki Patel. "It feels incredible to have made a first feature film that is an authentic romantic comedy from within the community, from our own lens. Making a film on a micro-budget is tough, and I've had to make some compromises, but I've been blessed with an incredible cast and creative partners. We've made this film with everything we've got, and it's got a big heart. It's not often a film like this is made, and I cannot wait for the audiences to see it because this is for them," Kumar said.

Pravesh Kumar is the Artistic Director and Chief Executive of award winning Rifco Theatre Company. He started the company in 2000 to make a different kind of theatre for a community that could not see themselves represented on English stages. He has been at the forefront of bringing new audiences into theatres in their thousands, often for the first time by telling untold, entertaining, and authentic stories. Pravesh has a background in Film and worked in the Indian film industry for many years. He has gone on to achieve critical acclaim for Rifco’s productions and has created some groundbreaking plays and musicals including Britain’s Got Bhangra.

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Producer of ‘Little English’, Dominique Unsworth said: "We are so pleased to have been selected by LIFF for their British gala screening at the BFI. South Asians make up almost 8% of the UK population, and globally they are an under-served diaspora. This is a film for everyone, but it's important to us that we have our UK premiere at a festival that engages with an audience that the film represents."

Manchester Indian Film Festival is part of the London Indian Film Festival and Birmingham Indian Film Festival, and together it is the UK and Europe's largest platform for South Asian independent films.

This year the festival kickstarted on June 25 with a special launch party at The Carlton Club supported by Manchester Indian Partnership and is set to run for 12 days till July 6. The launch evening also saw the screening of the British Asian short 'Yaha Waha', a 30-minute documentary by Manchester-born director and street photographer Sarah Li. It focuses on two artists from different sides of London and asks, "what is it to be a second or third-generation British Asian in the 2020s?"

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"A big personal thank you to our audiences in Manchester who, in spite of difficult times due to the pandemic last year, welcomed us to the city with so much warmth and support. Following that success, we are very excited to return in 2022 with an exciting, bigger, high-impact festival programme featuring film premieres, documentaries, and Q&As," said the Festival Director, Cary Rajinder Sawhney, MBE.

Audiences can also catch the festival's famous Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition, a rare chance to see the works of talented and emerging filmmakers exploring themes of South Asian experience.

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