THE 12th ANNUAL INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF LOS ANGELES ANNOUNCES CLOSING NIGHT GALA AND FILM LINE-UP
Closing Night Gala film will be culinary comedy JADOO by
London-based director Amit Gupta
Highlights include Anurag Kashyap’s UGLY, Sundance Festival favorite LIAR’S DICE, Irrfan Khan starrer QISSA, and Mumbai spotlight films BOMBAY TALKIES and MONSOON SHOOTOUT
|LOS ANGELES, CA (March 18, 2014) – Today, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) proudly announced its 2014 lineup of narrative and documentary features and short films for this year’s festival. The impressive program reflects the rich diversity of Indian cinema, as well as the future of Indian filmmaking, with cutting-edge filmmakers and emerging voices bringing their acclaimed films to Los Angeles.
The festival is widely recognized as the premiere showcase of groundbreaking Indian cinema globally. Celebrating its 12th year, IFFLA will run April 8-13 at ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles, the festival’s home since its inception.
JADOO, a delightful and delicious exploration of family bonds amidst two feuding brothers’ restaurants in England, will screen as the festival’s Closing Night Gala. JADOO is written and directed by IFFLA alum Amit Gupta, and first premiered at the 2013 Berlinale. It features a wonderful ensemble cast that includes Kulvinder Ghir, Amara Karan, Harish Patel, Tom Mison, and Madhur Jaffrey. The red-carpet screening will be followed by an exclusive after-party at Nirvana-Bombay Palace in Beverly Hills.
As previously announced, IFFLA will open with Jeffrey D. Brown’s SOLD, produced by Jane Charles and executive produced by Emma Thompson.
IFFLA 2014 presents more than 33 films, including three world premieres, six North American premieres, six U.S. premieres, and 16 Los Angeles premieres. The films feature 10 different languages, from Hindi to Marathi, to Russian to Bengali. Additionally, IFFLA supports American, Australian, British, Canadian, and European diaspora filmmakers from nine different countries telling their stories.
“I’m thrilled and proud that IFFLA’s line-up this year includes an especially diverse range of cinematic experiences, covering many regions of India and the diaspora,” said IFFLA’s Artistic Director Jasmine Jaisinghani. “We would like to thank our Programming Advisor in India, Uma Da Cunha, for helping our programming team source some of these exceptional films.”
Program highlights include: the North American premiere of Anurag Kashyap’s latest, UGLY, an intense, masterfully directed psychological thriller that premiered in the 2013 Director’s Fortnight section of Cannes; LIAR’S DICE, the remarkable directorial debut of South Indian actress Geetu Mohandas that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival; Anup Singh’s latest feature QISSA: THE TALE OF A LONELY GHOST, starring Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire), winner of NETPAC Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, and Dioraphte Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam; the Audience Award winner at the 2013 Slamdance Film Festival HANK AND ASHA, an exploratory, romantic look at two people bonding in the digital age by newcomer James E. Duff; Nagraj Manjule’s FANDRY, a highly praised debut feature for its multilayered emotion and realism on the subject of caste discrimination; BRAHMIN BULLS starring Roshan Seth (Gandhi, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Mississippi Masala) and Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and the Beast, Heroes) as an estranged father and son unexpectedly brought together to confront the family’s past; and SIDDHARTH, a nuanced look at a family whose son goes missing, by lauded Canadian director and IFFLA alum Richie Mehta (Amal).
The festival’s feature documentary competition includes an eclectic mix of films from established and upcoming filmmakers that consider India’s unique traditions and dynamic future. The films include: the world premiere of THE AUCTION HOUSE, an intimate and funny look at two brothers trying to keep their anachronistic family business going in the digital age; festival favorite POWERLESS, which depicts intense struggles over electricity in a mid-size Indian city; FAITH CONNECTIONS, IFFLA alum Pan Nalin’s beautiful and rare look at the Kumbh Mela; and the National Award-winningSHEPHERDS OF PARADISE, about an arduous, mountainous trek through an animal drive in the Kashmiri winter.
The popular Bollywood by Night series returns this year with BOMBAY TALKIES and MONSOON SHOOTOUT. Premiering at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, BOMBAY TALKIES is a quartet of short films that celebrates 100 years of Indian cinema. The omnibus film features work by four of India’s most exciting contemporary directors: Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, and Anurag Kashyap, as well as a stellar cast that includes Amitabh Bachchan, Rani Mukerji, and Katrina Kaif. MONSOON SHOUTOUT is a thrilling debut by IFFLA alum writer/director Amit Kumar about how a split-second decision made by a rookie police officer has rippling effects in his life and the lives of those around him.
The shorts competition showcases a diverse selection of 15 films that include narrative, documentary, experimental, and animated works. Highlights of this year’s program include Academy Award® shortlisted KUSH; Sundance award winner LOVE.LOVE.LOVE.; and the world premiere of acclaimed director Umesh Kulkarni’s THE FLY.
Festival Passes and Gala tickets are currently on sale at the festival’s website.
OPENING NIGHT GALA
Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Jeffrey D. Brown adapts Patricia McCormick’s novel Sold – a National Book Award finalist – into a vivid, harrowing and inspiring story of a young girl’s resilience in the face of unspeakable cruelty.
Set in Leicester, England, Amit Gupta’s culinary comedy charts the chaos that ensues when young Shalini gets engaged to her longtime boyfriend Mark. The fact that Mark is not Indian is the least of Shalini’s concerns. Her father Raja and uncle Jagi have been at war for years. After a legendary falling out that caused them to close their family restaurant, each man opened his own establishment – directly across the street from one another! Shalini’s dream wedding would see both men put aside their differences and prepare the feast together, but resentment runs deep and neither man can hear mention of the other’s name without a spike in blood pressure. Both the prospect of disappointing their beloved Shalini and the threat of a new, hip restaurant opening in the area force Raja and Jagi to work together – but for how long? In this uproariously funny and heartfelt exploration of family bonds, shared history and gastronomic perfection, Gupta’s cast is endlessly appealing. Plus, there’s enough mouth-watering Indian food on display to have your stomach growling before the credits roll.
BEFORE MY EYES (ANKHON DEKHI)
Celebrated writer, director, and actor Rajat Kapoor (Midnight’s Children, Monsoon Wedding, Mixed Doubles, Mithya) paints an offbeat yet thought-provoking portrait of domestic life in modern day Delhi when an incident prompts head of the family Bauji to reject anything he himself has not experienced, much to the exasperation of his extended family but to the delight of his newfound philosopher disciples. Balancing the comical and the existential, both Bauji and the film ask the basic question, ‘Can you know truth without true experience?’
Director: Mahesh Pailoor
Producer: Yoshinobu Tsuji
Mahesh Pailoor’s tender, funny, and touching debut tells the story of estranged father and son Ashok and Sid, who reunite at Sid’s Los Angeles home when Ashok arrives unexpectedly. Each man is keeping secrets from one another, and when the truth is revealed, parent and child must work even harder to close the rift between them.
Marathi poet Nagraj Manjule’s impressive debut feature tells the story of Jabya, a Dalit boy, and his family’s struggle against daily prejudice in their Maharashtra village. Jabya’s carefree childhood desires and antics are soon stifled by his family’s “untouchable” status, and the film’s gradual transformation into an insightful and damning look at caste discrimination builds from a murmur to a defiant roar. Refusing to reduce his Dalit characters to victims – most explicitly at the film’s explosive conclusion – Manjule’s socially reflective film has received critical acclaim in India.
HANK AND ASHA
James E. Duff’s feature directorial debut, the Audience Award winner at the 2013 Slamdance Film Festival, is an endearing tale of a long-distance connection in the digital age. Hank and Asha, two aspiring filmmakers separated by an ocean, connect with one another through video messages and quickly find themselves heading towards romance. That is, until Asha reveals some surprising news. Duff has created a captivating ode to the new possibilities open to us now that the world’s gotten smaller.
Established actress Geetu Mohandas steps behind the lens for her bracing directorial debut. A woman named Kamala and her daughter journey from their remote Himalayan village to Delhi in search of Kamala’s missing husband. They find a guide in an unfriendly wanderer whose interest may lie more in his personal gain than in any help he can offer them. Beautifully shot by Rajeev Ravi (Gangs of Wasseypur), Mohandas’ film evokes a hazardous world where answers may never be clear and a helping hand always comes at a price.
Indranil Roychowdhury’s stunning feature debut is an evocative, unpredictable tale of confused adolescence in a struggling North Bengal town. Phoring, an imaginative adolescent boy, and his beautiful new teacher Doel form a close friendship that soon arouses doubt and suspicion when Doel’s presence in the town is revealed to have less-than-noble origins. Roychowdhury accomplishes a tricky feat with his first film by luring us with the promise of an inspirational teacher-student story before ultimately delivering a much more complex and truthful account of the joys and pains of growing up.
QISSA: THE TALE OF A LONELY GHOST (2013)
Set in 1940s Punjab, Anup Singh’s latest feature QISSA details the aftermath of the Indo-Pakistan Partition through the experiences of one Sikh family, headed by Umber (Irrfan Khan). Following the family’s forceful displacement from their village, Umber’s desire for a male heir is stronger than ever. When his wife gives birth to their fourth daughter, Kanwar, Umber makes the fateful decision to raise her as a boy. This tragic choice ends up dividing the family in violent ways, and provokes a series of increasingly unsettling situations for Kanwar as she grows up. While in a sense a ghost story, the source of pain and suffering is all too real.
A celebrated IFFLA alum, Canadian director Richie Mehta returns to the festival with a heartbreaking story of parents Mahendra and Suman, whose son goes missing after being sent to work 200 miles north of Delhi. Carried by powerful yet restrained performances from Rajesh Tailang and Tannishtha Chatterjee as the parents, Mehta and cast capture the dignity of those facing the unthinkable. Mehta’s chance encounter with a man searching for his lost son alerted him to the underreported plight of the families of 44,000 children estimated missing in India every year.
Cast: Rahul Bhatt, Ronit Roy, Tejaswini Kolhapure, Anshika Shrivastava
When ten-year-old Kali disappears from her father Rahul’s car on the busy streets of Mumbai, the events that follow quickly spiral out of control and plunge into a morass of corruption and violence. Rahul and Kali’s mother, Shalini, are divorced. Shalini is now married to Shoumik, the local police chief. When Shoumik learns that his stepdaughter is missing, he and Rahul clash in a breathless race to find the girl. With intricate plotting and vivid characterizations, IFFLA alum Anurag Kashyap fashions a story that’s sure to keep the heart racing.
WRITERS (SULEMANI KEEDA)
Writing partners Dulal and Mainak dream of shaking up Bollywood in director Amit Masurkar’s slacker comedy. The two young men take a job from the wealthy, oddball son of a famous B-movie producer, but soon fear they’re on the path to selling out. Masurkar’s film captures the creative spirit of Andheri West, a Mumbai suburb where writers, directors, and actors come from all over India with the dream of working in the film industry, and is a sweet taste of things to come from the new “hindie” cinema.
THE AUCTION HOUSE: A TALE OF TWO BROTHERS
The auction houses of Kolkata used to be where the rich and famous found the right high-end objects to decorate their homes. Today, the family-owned Russell Exchange is the last, and oldest, one to remain in India. Director Ed Owles follows two brothers, with the older brother moving back to Kolkata from London with hopes of using his Western business acumen to bring the Exchange into the 21st century. However, in a country radically transformed by technology and a rising youth culture, it may already be too late.
Every three years, Hindus gather at one of four rotating sites for Kumbh Mela, a religious celebration of faith and devotion marked by bathing in the sacred waters of the Ganges. With 100 million people at the 2013 Kumbh Mela, the pilgrimage is said to be the largest gathering on the planet. IFFLA alum Pan Nalin crafts a moving and unique view of the mass gathering and presents unique stories of how individuals came to be there to share in the belief of the divine.
In Kanpur, a city of three million that has seen better days, one of the only ways for many residents to get electricity is to steal it. Co-directors Fahad Mustafa and Deepti Kakkar focus their attention on the likes of pirate engineers like Loha Singh and first female CEO at the local power authority Ritu Maheshwari. Coupled with beautiful photography of the intricately tied together powerlines of the city and a pulsating original score, they present a unique documentary about current-day India and its future battles over limited resources.
SHEPHERDS OF PARADISE
Nomadic herder Gafoor has to lead his large flock of goats, sheep, cows and horses across Jammu all the way to Kashmir so they can graze. Director Raja Shabir Khan presents lives few have ever seen, let alone lived, with simple beauty and real terror in a film that has won major National Awards in India. A cinematic wonder that must be seen to truly understand, SHEPHERDS OF PARADISE is a testament of the power of film to transport us to other lands and experiences.
BOLLYWOOD BY NIGHT
A quartet of short films directed by four of India’s most exciting contemporary filmmakers celebrates 100 years of Indian cinema in this omnibus film. Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap crafts a tale of ordinary people whose love of movies profoundly alters the course of their lives. Each story beautifully captures how lovers of cinema can’t help but carry that fascination into their day-to-day life. Haven’t we all wished, at one time or another, that our lives were more like a film?
A split-second decision made by a rookie police officer propels writer/director Amit Kumar’s debut feature, which fascinatingly splinters into three separate, equally pulse-pounding scenarios. In a secluded alley drenched in the pouring rain, principled cop Adi aims his gun at Shiva, a vicious gangster on the run. What Adi decides to do next will reverberate throughout his personal and professional life in ways he could never imagine. Kumar thus explores the ripple effect our choices have, and how we unknowingly alter the lives of those around us.
A hypnotic look into the nightly “ceremony of light” ritual in a Hindu temple in Sheikhupur, Punjab.
A bold and vibrant song to the intricate fabric of modern day India, a kaleidoscope of voices, colors and traditions.
A poignant documentary portrait of Himanshu, a 12-year old boxer, whose formidable commitment to the sport makes his lofty dreams to become an Olympic champion appear well within reach.
BLACK ROCK (KAATAL)
Two young lovers spend one last afternoon together. A beautiful meditation on the ephemeral nature of young love that has won three of India’s National Film Awards.
THE FLY (MAKHI)
Employed as a Fly Killer in an upscale restaurant, Pipal must ensure a fly-free environment by smacking dead the flies that buzz over the patrons’ heads. When a nearby drainage is closed and the source of the fly infestation eradicated, Pipal must find a way to produce enough live flies to save his job, in this delightfully absurdist commentary on urban India’s emerging work culture.
A sweeping single shot takes us on the breathtaking animated journey of two lovers and their eternal pursuit of harmony.
Young Jaya is able to survive the gruesome gang life in the unforgiving streets of Mumbai by posing as a boy. When she meets a wealthy businessman who looks like he could be the father who abandoned her, she sets out to reclaim her identity, in this engrossing drama that was shortlisted for a Student Academy Award®.
A bus full of schoolchildren boisterously makes its way back from a field trip when the news of Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her Sikh bodyguards breaks. As violence quickly erupts across the country, Kush, the only Sikh student in the class, must find a way to escape the unquenchable fury of retribution, in this gripping drama that was shortlisted for an Academy Award®.
LITTLE GYPSY (KACHHO GADULO)
Inspired by the folk traditions of various parts of India, this stunning animated film sweeps us into a mythical journey that celebrates the power of play and imagination.
An intimate ode to the wondrous force of love, as it takes new shapes and forms through the endless Russian winters. LOVE. LOVE.LOVE. won the Short Film Special Jury Award for Non-Fiction at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
In the barren desert of the India-Pakistan border, two lone army guards on the opposite sides of the line yearn for booze, mosquito repellent and some human contact, in this humorous glimpse into the absurdity of rigid immaterial divides.
Long days and nights spent within the bellies of the rising structural beasts that rapidly transform the city of Bangalore bring on visions of ghosts that speak of the construction workers’ memories, longings and fears, in this haunting meditation on the migrant experience.
Sanjay and Sushma plan to elope to escape a looming arranged marriage. They are in love and their future together shines bright and perfect and filled with possibility–that is, as long as an extra piece of skin that complicates their sex life gets fixed in what should be a routine medical procedure. But Mumbai’s electricity gods have other plans in store for them.
SMALL YELLOW FIELD (TAU SERU)
In the remote vastness of the Himalayas, a young nomad’s curiosity lies beyond the horizon. This stunningly photographed film made its world premiere at Cannes Critics’ Week.
THE PUPPET (TAMAASH)
A mysterious puppet offers young Anzar the chance to escape his father’s relentless punishments over his poor school grades by granting him the power to inflict misfortune on his nemesis, his brilliant classmate, Sadat. However, his newfound peace is short-lived as Sadat falls severely ill and Anzar comes to realize that the puppet’s powers are spiraling out of his control.
Stills for all films available upon request.