The 11th anniversary of the London Indian Film Festival (LIFF), held online for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic, concluded with Global Indian filmmaker's 'Mississippi Masala' bagging the Audience Favourite Award. The 1991 romantic drama starring Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury was the most-viewed film on the Loveliffathome.com platform.
Cary Rajinder Sawhney, Executive & Programming Director of LIFF, said: “We are delighted that this year's festival has attracted a record attendance in terms of viewed content and that the festival has creatively met the many challenges of these current times and actually thrived. It is a clear example of how diverse minority communities, used to overcoming adversity, can find quick solutions.
“In these times of assault on human rights and the resurgence of state supported prejudice globally, one of our great achievements was to source and showcase Mira Nair's under-sung masterpiece 'Mississippi Masala', a film that bridges not only the tense discourse between African-American and South Asian communities, but between the final collapse of the hierarchies set up by the British Empire in East Africa and a modernity seeking to escape this past. To encapsulate this epic backdrop in one romantic movie, starring the mighty Denzel Washington, is the talent of few filmmakers. We hope that our rare screening inspires the filmmakers to make this still highly relevant film more widely available.”
Among some of the other winners at the annual awards included ICON Awards for filmmaker Deepa Mehta and veteran actress Shabana Azmi.
Azmi said: “Acting is a very rewarding profession because you inhabit the world of a character you may never have known and thus enrich your life. I wish to thank the London Indian Film Festival for conferring the prestigious ICON Award 2020 on me.
“I am both delighted and humbled. In these days of the lockdown. Films and the arts have provided great solace to troubled minds and I am proud of being an actor.”
The Outstanding Achievement Awards went to Bollywood actress Vidya Balan and actor Adil Hussain and also to Hollywood star Freida Pinto, whose In-Conversation session also closed the festival this year.
“The team continue to champion South Asian cinema to the UK, and globally now, via this new online platform, moving with the changing times, with a true passion for diverse storytelling," said Pinto, in reference to LIFF.
LIFF, supported by the Bagri Foundation and the British Film Institute (BFI), opened with an In-Conversation with Bollywood star Ayushmann Khurrana and also included several LGBTQ+ films, women-centric films as well as the buzzing Satyajit Ray Short Film competition, with a jury of high profile film pundits, who deliberated over Zoom.
Ben Luxford, Head of BFI 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. The BFI is extremely proud to have supported this activity and we hope to see it continue.”
Alka Bagri, Trustee of the Bagri Foundation, said: “The array of In-Conversations with Hollywood and Independent stars and award-winning directors made this year's festival truly memorable.”