‘The Black Prince’ & ‘Sexy Durga’ to lead LIFF 2017

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The Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival, regarded as Europe’s largest Indian film festival returns for its 8th edition at 11 cinemas across London including BFI Southbank from 22-29 June, with a new and exciting selection of fabulous cutting-edge films that reaffirm the festival’s position as the ‘punk-rock of Indian cinema’. The festival is title sponsored by the Bagri Foundation with a major support from Grange Hotels, Sun Mark Ltd, and is funded by the BFI’s National Lottery Film Festivals Fund.

As an edgy tie-in, to UK-India Year of Culture and complementing the BFI’s India on Film programme, the festival opens on 22nd June at the BFI Southbank with the red carpet premiere of the historical epic, The Black Prince by Kavi Raz. This powerful UK-produced film was launched at Cannes, and stars Indian music singer Satinder Sartaaj, iconic actress Shabana Azmi (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Fire), Jason Flemyng (Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) and Amanda Root (Jane Eyre). The film dramatises the little-known story of the last King of Punjab who was abducted by the British Raj to be mentored by Queen Victoria.

Back into the 21st Century for the closing night, on 29th June, BFI Southbank rocks again with the surreal Malayalam road-movie thriller Sexy Durga set in Kerala, directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, which this year won the prestigious Tiger Award for best film at Rotterdam. A tale of a hitch-hiking couple accidentally getting into the car of deranged gangsters and trying to escape a road to hell.

The Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival continues to not simply reflect what’s happening in South Asian cinema but instead sparks cutting edge debate through special events, the Satyajit Ray short film award, and ICON awards. LIFF highlights emerging talent and champions lesser known great film makers through the awards presentations. Meanwhile, the festival’s special events recognise the full diversity of film making and South Asian experience from remembering LGTQ+ activism via the works of British Asian auteur and activist, Pratibha Parmar, to cutting edge 21st Century Indian virtual reality film making. The programme will also explore the impact of Brexit on British Asian and other BAME film makers as well as preview the new Indian-UK co-production The Hungry, helmed by Bornila Chatterjee, based on Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.

Cary Rajinder Sawhney, LIFF Director, says, “We are delighted to bring London audiences a carefully curated selection of the very best new Indian and South Asian independent cinema; all films are English subtitled, offering a rare window into over a billion South Asian lives. This year’s selection includes premieres of new comedies, gripping thrillers, shocking horror and insightful true life documentaries as well as bringing together UK previews of major award-winning films from the world’s greatest film festivals.”

Title Sponsor Dr Alka Bagri of the Bagri Foundation adds, “We are excited to celebrate with LIFF the art of Indian independent cinema in this UK India Year of Culture. This year’s programme is a vibrant and diverse mixture of films which explore all aspects of human experience, tackling hard-hitting issues through fiction and documentary. LIFF continues to offer stimulating talks, bringing together important figures of the LGBTQ+ community, and to propose the timely and critical discussion around the futures of artists and filmmakers in the face of Brexit.”

Many films will be followed by live filmmaker Q&As. Special guests will include:
– Legendary Oscar® nominated director of Lagaan, Ashutosh Gowariker, in conversation, and British Sign Language (BSL) interpreted, plus a chance to see his Bollywood epic Jodhaa Akbar (2008) on the big screen.
– Seminal British Asian activist and director Pratibha Parmar will discuss her early films and the pioneering Shakti LGBTQ+ movement.
– Master filmmaker and BFI London Film Festival Sutherland award winner Adoor Gopalakrishnan will attend a preview of his latest film Once Again (2016).

Screenings at Cineworld Empire Leicester Square, Wembley and Wandsworth include the world premiere of Tamil comedy, Ticket The Movie (Raaghav Ranganthan, 2017), anarchic Bollywood comedy Badman (Soumik Sen, 2017) and N Padmakumar’s inspirational Mumbai drama Billion Colour Story (2016). The festival experiments for the first time with horror with the disturbing Hide and Seek (Vishal Furia, 2016), plus the European Premiere of Pakistani Gangster thriller, Whirlpool (Harune Massey 2017).

The festival also takes place in Birmingham for a third year, with a rebrand as the Birmingham Indian Film Festival, from 23 June-2nd July, marking the Festival’s permanent commitment to the region. Screenings will take place at Midlands Arts Centre mac, Cineworld Broad Street and The Mockingbird. The festival will show highlights of the London programme including opening night with The Black Prince and closing night with Sexy Durga. The Birmingham programme is in partnership with the citywide USTAV Festival of South Asian culture.

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