- The four-day festival will include a gala presentation of Pan Nalin’s “Last Film Show”; the world premiere of Anmol Sidhu’s “Jaggi”; and the North American premieres of Faraz Ali’s “Shoebox” and Natesh Hegde’s “Pedro.”
The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) will screen 26 films, including 10 films and 16 shorts, for its 20th annual edition, as it marks a return to in-person screenings and events this year. The four-day festival will include a gala presentation of Pan Nalin’s “Last Film Show”; the world premiere of Anmol Sidhu’s “Jaggi”; and the North American premieres of Faraz Ali’s “Shoebox” and Natesh Hegde’s “Pedro.”
In addition to the screenings, the landmark 20th-anniversary edition of IFFLA will inaugurate a spotlight on South Asia section and feature a shorts special program celebrating the festival’s history, with a pre-festival screening of IFFLA alumni shorts highlighting films representing each year of the festival’s history with an in-theater co-presentation with NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA). There will also be a live script read previewing an IFFLA alumnus’ next feature project, as well as an announcement of a filmmaker mentorship initiative to further support emerging South Asian filmmakers, organizers said in a press release.
“Reflecting on IFFLA’s 20 years, we find ourselves overjoyed by the range of incredible talent we have discovered and celebrated, introducing numerous emerging and established voices to Los Angeles,” said IFFLA Executive Director Christina Marouda. “We are also incredibly proud of the sense of family and community we have accomplished over the last 20 years. We are now ramping up our efforts to support the careers of filmmakers by adding to the programs IFFLA has become known for over the past two decades, not just as a touchstone for our filmmakers, but also as a bridge to their next films.”
Regarding the inspiration for this year’s edition of IFFLA, co-director of programming Thouly Dosios, said, “This year’s festival is about reclaiming the powerful act of physically gathering together in a dark room, and processing a flickering dream as a communal experience. At the same time, it is about mindful evolution; our post-pandemic world forces us to reassess how we connect with each other and share our stories. The limitations we’ve had to deal with have empowered us to forge ahead with an expanded mind and a wilder imagination.”
Co-director of programming Ritesh Mehta, added: “The last few years have seen a dynamic rise in South Asian voices getting global acclaim. This 20th year, we’re beyond thrilled to have corralled some of these groundbreaking visions, and in turn, offer some inspiring discoveries back to the culture. Our work is a total privilege, and we can’t wait to screen it with our communities in LA and beyond.”
Pan Nalin’s “Last Film Show” is “the filmmaker’s celebration of the love of cinema through the story of a boy who stumbles upon a rundown movie theater and then charms his way into a daily seat in the projection room,” according to the IFFLA. “However, when the theater upgrades from film to digital, his new wondrous world may be lost unless he and his friends can create their own ‘theater.'” The film debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival and has traveled to film festivals across the world.
A second gala presentation will be announced at a later date, organizers said.
Additional highlights among the feature film lineup include Irfana Majumdar’s “Shankar’s Fairies,” a delicate tapestry of a tale set in 1960s Lucknow about the touching bond that develops between the young daughter of a police chief and the family’s head servant, through his fantastical stories; Aditya Sengupta’s Bengali drama “Once Upon a Time in Calcutta,” which follows an aging actress in games of power with five different men through the dark secrets of a disintegrating city; Nithin Lukose’s critically acclaimed directorial debut, “Paka” (River of Blood), produced by Anurag Kashyap, a revenge thriller that pits two rival families against each other over a Romeo and Juliet-type forbidden romance; and Rahul Jain’s documentary “Invisible Demons,” which premiered in Cannes’ Cinema for the Climate section and explores the detrimental effects of India’s growing economy on the environment, in the sprawling city of Delhi.
Of the 11 short films presented in IFFLA’s main competition lineup, eight are helmed by women directors. This section boasts four world premieres sure to make waves, including Megha Ramaswamy’s provocative psychological horror “Lalanna’s Song,” co-produced by Guneet Monga; Ambiecka Pandit’s “Under the Waters,” a raw coming of age drama produced by Vikramaditya Motwane; the deadpan debut “Adventures of Faisal Rehman” by Mir Ijlal Shaani; and Varun Chopra’s politically charged documentary “Holy Cowboys” that infiltrates the terrifying world of youth proselytization and right-wing extremism. The section also includes Student Academy Award winner, “Close Ties to Home Country” by Akanksha Cruczynski.
Heading IFFLA’s new Spotlight on South Asia section, which will showcase some of the most groundbreaking new work coming out of the greater South Asian subcontinent and its diasporas, is Abdullah Mohammad Saad’s psychological thriller “Rehana” (Rehana Maryam Noor) about a professor and single mother, who puts her family and life on the line to bring justice to a male colleague accused of sexually assaulting a student. The film made history for being the first film from Bangladesh to compete in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard. The spotlight includes the shorts 1978 (Pakistan) by award-winning director Hamza Bangash, Salar Pashtoonyar’s 2021 Student Academy Award winner “Bad Omen” (Afghanistan/Canada), Sunil Pandey’s Rotterdam 2022 selection “Baghthan” (Nepal), Nuhash Humayun’s 2022 SXSW Midnight Shorts Grand Jury Prize winner “Moshari” (Bangladesh), and Seemab Gul’s “Sandstorm” (Pakistan), which premiered at the 2021 Biennale’s Orizzonti.
The hybrid presentation of 20 short films representing its diverse programming over the past two decades will include Umesh Kulkarni’s absurdist tale “The Fly” (Makkhi); Academy Award-nominated “The Little Terrorist” by Ashvin Kumar; and acclaimed director Nagraj Manjule’s “An Essay of the Rain.” A selection of this lineup will be screened in partnership with NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) on Saturday, April 23 as a part of NFMLA’s annual InFocus: Asian Cinema Program.
Following the special presentation, the films will be available to stream online during IFFLA’s dates.
IFFLA has long been a vital touchstone for filmmakers due to both the platform it provides for their work to be seen in the heart of Hollywood, but also due to the support and networking it has offered the directors, actors, and other film artists who have been a part of the IFFLA “family.” The festival receives support from NBC Universal, WarnerMedia, Hollywood Vaults, SAGindie and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Cultural support is provided by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.
Screenings will be held at the Regal LA Live, Harmony Gold, and UCLA’s James Bridges Theater.
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