- Always championing diverse and inclusive programming this year’s event will include a stimulating selection of features from the South Asian region and diaspora.
The 2022 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), set to return starting Sept. 8 through Sept. 18, has an enticing lineup of International and Canadian films programmed for its 47th edition. TIFF – always championing diverse and inclusive programming – this year has included a very stimulating selection of features from the South Asian region and diaspora. The festival will pay homage to and celebrate the centenary of maestro filmmaker Satyajit Ray (1921–1992) with a diverse retrospective of 10 films spanning the Indian subcontinent and 64 years, curated by Mumbai-based programmer Meenakshi Shedde. The retrospective, titled “Satyajit Ray: His Contemporaries and Legacy,” is far-reaching, honoring the legendary filmmaker, alongside films by his contemporaries and filmmakers he has influenced.
Ray’s (greatest) works open with the filmmaker’s personal favorite “Charulata” (The Lonely Wife, 1964); “Devi” (The Goddess 1960); “Nayak” (The Hero, 1966); and “Shatranj Ke Khilari” (The Chess Players, 1977). Also showcased in the series are films by four Ray contemporaries: Ritwik Ghatak’s Partition masterpiece “Subarnarekha” (The Golden Thread, 1965); Aparna Sen’s “Mr. and Mrs. Iyer” (2002); “Jago Hua Savera” (Day Shall Dawn, 1959), directed by A.J. Kardar; and Mani Kaul’s astonishing, avant-garde documentary “Siddheshwari” (1989).
Ray directed 37 works, including fiction, documentaries, and shorts, mainly in Bengali. A polymath and leader of India’s parallel cinema movement in the 1950s, he questioned the nation’s post-independence legacy, including poverty, patriarchy, and corruption — yet his films remained deeply humanist and usually hopeful. Ray’s films have screened at Cannes, Berlin, Venice, and TIFF, and the director’s international awards include an Honorary Oscar in 1992. A year late, due to the pandemic, Ray’s retrospective is going to be a cinematic treat for the audience, especially for those who haven’t encountered Ray’s mastery.
A fourth-time returning alum to TIFF, Indian film director Shekhar Kapur (“Elizabeth,” “Bandit Queen”) once again will mesmerize us with his brilliance in the romantic comedy “What’s Love Got To Do With It” (Gala Presentation), set in London, and starring Lily James, Shazad Latif, Shabana Azmi, and Emma Thompson. Zoe (James) is a filmmaker and Kazim (Latif) a doctor. They grew up next door to each other, though their worlds couldn’t be farther apart. While Zoe was raised by her English divorcé mother, Cath (Thompson), to be independent and inquisitive, Kaz’s Pakistan-born parents were happy to participate in secular British society while ensuring their kids conduct themselves according to the family’s Muslim faith. Having already witnessed his parents’ anguish when his sister married a white Briton, Kaz has opted to follow his parents’ example and seek an arranged marriage. Kaz’s decision perplexes Zoe — and provides her with a brilliant premise for her next documentary. Having grown up watching Kapur’s “Masoom” on repeat on VHS and following his spectacular career ever since, I always look forward to watching his magic unfold on screen.
Winner of the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize and the Queer Palm at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, “Joyland” (North American premiere) directed by Pakistani filmmaker Salim Sadiq has stunned audiences with his moving debut feature about Haider Rana (Ali Junejo), who is married to woman, and amidst pressure and ridicule from his father, finds work as a backup dancer for the trans performer Biba (Alina Khan), opening his eyes to another way to love — and another way of life. This film is sure to be a TIFF favorite and probably will win some awards at the festival.
Nandita Das (“Manto”), also returns to TIFF helming “Zwigato” (North American premiere) which scrutinizes the sociopolitical climate of the gig economy with this story about the trials and tribulations of a food-app delivery driver (played by Indian comedian Kapil Sharma). After losing his job as a factory-floor manager during the pandemic, Manas (Sharma) becomes a driver for a food-delivery app called Zwigato. To help make ends meet, his wife Pratima (Shahana Goswami) applies for a job as cleaning staffer at a mall. Manas isn’t pleased, but it isn’t long before the strain of his daily grind begins to take a toll and he’s forced to confront his old-fashioned ideas about being the breadwinner. Ever since Das, a formidable actress, has turned director, her films have always had an impact. Her teaming up with comedian Sharma should be of interesting viewing.
“Kacchey Limbu” (world premiere) directed by Shubham Yogi, is set in Mumbai and is about two siblings pitted against each other on competing cricket teams. Set in the courtyards and improvised pitches of Mumbai, the story follows Aditi (Radhika Madan) who dreams about being a fashion designer, and her big brother Akash who drags himself to corporate job interviews though his first and only love is cricket. When he is accepted into a new league, Aditi decides to compete with her brother and start her own team, assembling a motley crew of players who might not look like cricket stars but just may have what it takes. The sport, always entertaining on screen, should once again deliver through the lens of Yogi.
In “While We Watched” (world premiere) filmmaker Vinay Shukla examines how independent news reporting in India and beyond is increasingly under threat by budgetary cuts and, especially, extremists leveraging alternative platforms to spread misinformation. At the center of the film is veteran reporter Ravish Kumar of India’s NDTV who strives to uphold standards of independence and accountability. Every day, he faces a new set of challenges: budget cuts, staff departures, mysterious obstructions, and even death threats. His station struggles to compete against the rising popularity of channels that replace news with zealots shouting down their opponents. I’m looking forward to this one and curious to see how Shukla tackles this issue.
For the complete programming schedule of TIFF 2022 visit https://tiff.net/
Sunil Sadarangani is a Mumbai-born, Los Angeles-based multiple award-winning producer and writer, having been a part of international digital film projects for over 15 years. He has produced award-winning short films “In Transit” (Shorts TV and Oscar nomination qualifier), “Blind,” “Nova,” and “With You.” He is the co-founder and Director of Programming of the Ojai Short Film Festival, now in its third season. He is a charter member of the Programmers of Color Collective (POC2) and was on the jury of the 2019 Los Angeles Greek Film Festival and a Senior Assistant Programmer at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. He currently volunteers on the assistant programming committee at Outfest, Los Angeles. Sunil is an officially accredited writer covering film and digital media at leading film festivals and industry award events. The California State Senate has recognized him for his ongoing commitment to creativity and innovation in the Los Angeles community. Sadarangani is the co-founder of Omagination Pictures, a production company representing and producing South Asian creators and stories. He has been instrumental in securing IP content as well as forging associations with industry executives and creators for the company.