London Indian Film Festival returns to cinemas with female gaze
London Indian Film Festival returns to cinemas with female gaze

An all-women filmmaker line-up of screenings is at the heart of the London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) as it returns to cinemas across the UK capital from September 17 amid a Covid-secure setting.

Among some of the highlights of this year's festival, which adopted a hybrid mode by hosting a series of virtual sessions earlier in the year, include director Arati Kadav's sci-fi film 'Cargo', which is produced by filmmaker Anurag Kashyap. The line-up also includes Deepti Gupta's tongue-in-cheek documentary with popular Indian musician Sona Mohapatra, who gets candid about the discrimination women face in the music industry.

"It's been an adventure this year to transform Europe's largest South Asian film festival into both a digital version that continues to attract good audiences and an actual physical film festival and we are delighted to be dipping our toes into cinemas again with the support of our regular cinema partners BFI Southbank and Ciné Lumiére and new partners Millennium Point in Birmingham, presenting a power-packed all female programme,” said Cary Rajinder Sawhney, Executive and Programming Director of LIFF and the Birmingham Indian Film Festival being held in parallel.

Female gaze

'Brick Lane' actress Tannishtha Chatterjee's acclaimed directorial debut, 'Roam Rome Mein', alongside actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui and an Italian cast, and Bollywood star Vidya Balan's short film production 'Natkhat' (The Brat) are among some of the other films set for their cinema outing until September 20.

Alka Bagri, Trustee of the Bagri Foundation, the title sponsor of the film festival, said: “Championing diverse filmmaking has always been a big part of the work that the Bagri Foundation does, and to highlight this stellar line-up of women-made films, is a particular delight. The highs and lows of human lives, told through the female gaze, continues to be rare.

“We congratulate LIFF on their resilience in this tough year, and as cinemas reopen to the public, for those who feel comfortable, we hope you enjoy this glimpse into important narratives on the big screen.”

Digital avatar

The all-women directorial line-up follows the festival's digital avatar in response to the coronavirus lockdown with LoveLIFFatHOME.com, which hosted In Conversation events with leading film talent such as Oscar nominees Mira Nair and Deepa Mehta and Indian stars like Shabana Azmi, Anurag Kashyap, Ayushmann Khurana, as well as crossover talents like Freida Pinto and Adil Hussain.

Ben Luxford, British Film Institute (BFI) Head of UK Audiences, said: “During these extremely challenging times the Festival has not only adapted to new circumstances, they've developed innovative ways to engage with people across the UK.

“The team at LIFF have done an incredible job delivering their programme and have unearthed some truly astonishing rare gems for audiences to enjoy. Thanks to National Lottery funding, the BFI is extremely proud to have supported this activity and we hope to see it continue.”?

The festival team said its screenings this week are being run in accordance with UK government guidelines, with relevant health and safety measures put in place by cinemas.

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