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The London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) kicked off on 24 June 2022 and I’ve had a very hard time figuring out my favourites to watch. While I haven’t been able to attend and watch them all, here are some to catch before it ends on 3 July.
Between premieres, original adaptations, and restoring former classics, the festival has a wealth of shorts, documentaries, and movies for everyone to watch across several themes ranging from comedy, LGBTQIA+, rape survival, identity, environmentalism, investigative documentary, music, and more. The pool of stories they share this year is endless and really enticing. If you have some time to spare this week, I highly recommend you give one - or more - a try. You won’t regret it.
Superfan: The Nav Bathia Story
A unique and uplifting documentary focusing on the life of the Toronto Raptors biggest fan, Nav Bhatia and the massive impact he has had on the city’s basketball community. The film charts his journey to Canada as a low-income immigrant worker from India and how his relentless passion for life not only built his career, but as he came into contact with basketball for the first time, quickly expanded into supporting a struggling team. Bhatia not only inspired the players, but inspired generations to get into the sport and has brought together the city’s Black and South Asian communities. This is a film that is bound to leave everyone who sees it with a smile on their face and in their hearts. More information online.
The Rapist + Aparna Sen in conversation
Aparna Sen’s Busan premiered drama tells of a rape survivor and the struggles she goes through to reconcile her life and future. Aparna Sen’s powerful drama world premiered at Busan, South Korea. Naina (Konkona Sen Sharma), a professor in criminal psychology, is married to academic Aftab (Arjun Rampal). Their lives change one night when Naina is raped and her friend killed. She testifies and the rapist is sentenced. Naina deals with her trauma when she finds out she is pregnant.
Following the screening, Director Aparna Sen will examine the psychology of violence and raises disturbing questions about gender, class and legal rights. This is especially relevant in light of the Roe vs Wade verdict and its implications on women’s rights today. More information online.
No Land’s Man
In 2019, a man named Naveen (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) disappears from a memorial park in Sydney while travelling with his girlfriend Cathy. Flashback to New York two years earlier, Naveen finds a job at a restaurant where he meets Cathy, but he is never able to truly be himself, struggling to forge an identity as a migrant in the city. As their relationship deepens, Naveen’s lies begin to catch up with him and unable to tell the truth about anything including his name and nationality, his relationship with Cathy is put to the test and his own existence questioned. One of leading figures of new Bangladeshi cinema, Farooki’s latest is a stirring tale of a man desperately seeking to manufacture an identity in a new place that will allow him to just exist. More information online.
From the minds behind Brass Eye and Peep show comes this rip-roaring comedy about four British Muslims who set out to commit an act of terror. What follows is a hilarious, sharply written satire looking into the ideology of idiots. Covering a difficult topic with extremely sharp writing, it’s a film that manages to avoid being insensitive and even becomes emotional. The cherry on top is that you will get to see Riz Ahmed on screen. More information online.
Moving Upstream: Ganga
Filmed over six months on a 2,500km walk along the River Ganges, this stunning documentary explores the idea of walking in this fast paced modern world and man’s evolving relationship with the natural world and bringing a much needed spotlight on the voices and concerns of the communities that depend on India’s greatest watercourse. More information online.
One area that the festival prides itself on is platforming a wide range of women filmmakers. These directors’ works often challenge the status quo, offering fresh stories and many also contribute to a diversity of authentic portrayals of women’s experience on cinema screens. This one from Director Mira Nair, is one of them.
Recognising the 50th anniversary of Asian expulsions from East Africa, LIFF presents this glorious restoration of a much loved film. After Mina’s (Sarita Choudhury) Indian family is forced out of Uganda, they relocate to rural Mississippi to start a new life. Mina’s traditional family wants her to marry an Indian, but she falls for Demitrius (Denzel Washington), a handsome young carpet cleaner. However their budding relationship struggles to get off the ground as tensions rise and Mina is forced to choose between her love and her family. Mira Nair’s dazzling and heartfelt romance explores issues of race, class and privilege which are still pertinent today. More information online.
Too Desi Too Queer
Alongside city-wide Pride celebrations in London LIFF is presenting their super-hit ‘Too Desi Too Queer’ shorts programme, exploring images of the lives, experiences and well being of South Asian LGBTQIA+ communities in the Subcontinent and diaspora, through a dynamic and thought-provoking selection of recent LGBTQIA+ short films. Short films include My Mothers Girlfriend, Trinity, or Queer Parivar. More information online.
The London Indian film Festival runs from 23 June to 3 July, and is available for screenings in London, Birmingham, and Manchester, as well as online. Head online for more information on screening dates and times.