Screenings have now been announced for the Birmingham Indian Film Festival (BIFF), supported by Birmingham City University and the BFI, part of the UK and Europe’s largest South Asian film festival, opening Friday 21st June until Monday 1st July 2019.
BIFF, which returns for its fifth year, showcases a rich assortment of entertaining and thought-provoking independent films that have been winning awards and making global impact, including India’s new wave of LGBTQ+ films.
The Festival is presented by the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival which is celebrating its own 10th anniversary and is extending to Manchester and Bradford.
Birmingham Indian Film Festival will run across the city for a phenomenal 11 days at existing partner venues: Cineworld Broad Street; MAC Birmingham, Cannon Hill Park; and The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen, Custard Factory. This year the festival welcomes new partner venue Centrala based in Digbeth.
Cary Rajinder Sawhney, Executive & Programming Director of the festival said, “The Festival has dynamically opened the UK media and audiences to Indian and South Asian independent cinema in all its linguistic diversity, and that’s something we are extremely proud of. Punching above our weight as always, this year is probably our strongest programme ever with exciting Midland premieres, rarely seen archival masterpieces, and some seriously cutting-edge dramas and documentaries.”
The 5th Anniversary celebrations will open with a sparkling red-carpet event at Cineworld Broad Street, for the Birmingham premiere of the hard-hitting ‘Article 15’ (pictured), starring India’s hottest male star Ayushmann Khurrana, ahead of its UK and worldwide release later in the month.
The Festival is particularly delighted to welcome Anurag Kashyap, in a rare chance to hear the experiences of India’s most famed cult director. A unique talent and India’s best-known filmmaker on the global festival circuit. His Netflix series ‘Sacred Games’ was a global smash hit and is set for season 2.
Cary continued, “We are very proud that the Festival is in its 5th year and building a new cinema audience in Birmingham. Over 70% of those surveyed during the 2018 festival were new visitors to Cineworld, MAC Birmingham and The Mockingbird cinemas combined. The festival also saw an increase in understanding of South Asian cinema for over 90% of audiences, with 56% first time attendees. It’s also very exciting that the films shown last year were supported by diverse audiences from across all communities in the city.”
To help celebrate its 5th anniversary the Festival welcomes Midlands born actor Antonio Aakeel best known for his roles in ‘City of Tiny Lights’ and the hit film ‘Tomb Raider’.
Antonio added, “I was fortunate enough to be part of the festival last year with my film Eaten by Lions which won the audience award for Best Film and I am honoured to be returning to the Festival team this year as an ambassador for its 5th anniversary. It’s an important time to showcase the varied and diverse stories that South Asian independent cinema has to offer and is a great platform for both emerging and established talent. I’m hoping my involvement will only increase the incredible engagement the festival receives from film makers and film lovers alike.”
Further highlights of the festival and true to the festival’s mission to screen films about real people’s stories, audiences will be able to deep dive into the Extra-Ordinary Lives strand, with amazing documentaries and dramas from across South Asia featuring the award-winning romantic drama Sir. An audience favourite at Cannes, Sir looks at the age-old divide between the classes in India. Further highlights include the Birmingham premiere of the unforgettably feel-good documentary My Home India. A little-known story set in WW2 where the Polish ambassadorial team in Bombay and supported by a local Maharaja, dispatch food relief to Polish women and children.
Keeping the Festival’s reputation as the Punk Rock of Indian film festivals the Young Rebel strand literally busts all the stereotypes with an action-packed, fun and thought-provoking bunch of movies exploring younger lives. The Festival welcomes the return of the multi-award-winning female Director Rima Das with her must-see Bulbul Can Sing and the heart-warming film Chuskit, a young girl whose dreams of going to school are cut short after an accident that leaves her disabled.
Film, Power and Politics offers a critical insight into the fast-moving political changes within South Asia. It features the compelling Bangladeshi drama Saturday Afternoon; Gandhian values black comedy #Gadhvi; and Kashmir-based Widow of Silence; just a few films to look out for.
One of Kolkata’s finest masters, Buddhadeb Dasgupta will attend for a Q&A alongside his magic realist film The Flight. Audiences will also have a rare chance to see the works of talented, emerging film makers who are exploring themes of South Asian Experience as part of the Satyajit Ray Short film Award. The winner will be announced at the London festival closing night.
As usual, BIFF expect a host of filmmaker Q&As and special guests with a highlight being the eagerly anticipated return of festival favourite director Anurag Kashyap, who has grabbed headlines with Sacred Games and Gangs of Wasseypur (the 2012 opening night film for LIFF).
Other talents expected are the popular Punjabi heavyweight Gippy Grewal who brings the generation gap social drama, ‘Ardaas 2’, set in Canada, which hits UK screens on general release on 19th July 2019.