The curtain has closed on another brilliant London Indian Film Festival! Running over two weeks and four cities – London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds – The Blue Orchid Hotels London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) delivered another outstanding slate of films, Q&A sessions, and special in-conversations and panels with actors, directors, and more. It was a record year with huge audiences, and many of the films had sold-out screenings.
Festival Director Cary Rajinder Sawhney MBE says: “We are delighted that the festival’s drive to return fully to cinemas in London, Birmingham, and Manchester has been responded to by record audiences. Certain cinemas, such as the BFI Southbank, described the festival as their best seller over the period. There is clearly an appetite to return to the big screen, especially with a festival cocktail of high-quality premieres with frequent guest appearances. What is notable this year is that comedies such as A Fishy Trip, Little English, and Americanish have been particularly well attended and frequently sold out. By contrast, certain challenging debate-provoking films like Sen’s The Rapist also attracted good audiences.
“This year, we have had a march of high-level Indian talent to the festival which has been difficult to ignore, helmed by our world premiere of enfant terrible director Anurag Kashyap’s Dobaaraa with Bollywood stars Taapsee Pannu and Pavail Gulati on the red carpet. The tour de force of female indie actor-director greats Aparna Sen, Nandita Das, and Konkona Sen Sharma, plus British icon Meera Syal, strongly cemented the image of the festival as the sole destination for intellectually stimulating but entertaining debate, with young women, in particular, stating that the Q&As and In Conversations had deeply inspired them. All in all, we have had a record year.”
The festival drew to a close with the European premiere of the inspirational and uplifting sports documentary Superfan: The Nav Bhatia Story with Nav Bhatia and members from the world of sports, music, and entertainment in attendance.
Also, on the Gala closing night, the award winners were announced.
Resonating with the festival’s audiences around the UK, Director Pan Nalin’s poignant ode to cinema Last Film Show (aka Chhello Show) was chosen as the winner of its audience voted Best Film Award. Pan Nalin says: “This is truly inspiring, uplifting, and enlightening! As a filmmaker, the only dream I cherish is to be loved by the audience. And all credits goes to passionate Cary Sawhney and his excellent team at the London Indian Film Festival along with Birmingham and Manchester; they work so hard to bring the best of Indian cinema to people in the UK that too in amazing venues with in-person shows.”
In the Satyajit Ray short film, Jaagran, co-directed by Ritviq Joshi & Hardik Sadhwani, won the LIFF Jury Prize. Jury judges awarded the film for its “engaging, relatable and witty exploration of a serious issue everyone can identify with” and found it “socially and politically astute, brilliantly acted and hilariously funny.” Ritviq Joshi & Hardik Sadhwani say: “Jaagran was an over-ambitious 20-page dream that we saw together. Miraculously, we put together an experienced team who believed in the script and helped us learn and turn our dream into reality. Today, after getting the honour of receiving an award with Satyajit Ray’s name on it, we’re back to square one. We’re back in a dream. Only this time, it’s not limited to the two of us. This one belongs to twenty more dreamers. Thank you, team Jaagran and Thank you, LIFF.”
Awards were also given to Taapsee Pannu: Outstanding Achievement Award, Konkona Sen Sharma: Outstanding Achievement Award, Nandita Das: Outstanding Achievement Award, and Aparna Sen: Icon Award.
Aparna Sen says: “It was a rare honour and pleasure to receive the Icon Award from LIFF. Making films on my own terms without commercial compromise for 40 years has often seemed a thankless job, but now, after the Icon Award from LIFF, I feel vindicated. Thank you, LIFF for continuing to believe in meaningful cinema.
Even if the curtain has dropped on the festival, you can still watch highlights from the festival on https://www.loveliffathome.com. Playing now is the Q&A with Anurag Kashyap, Pavail Gulati, and Taapsee Pannu for Dobaaraa , plus the special In-Conversation events with Taapsee Pannu and Aparna Sen. There will be more added so be sure to keep the tab open to experience all you can of this fabulous festival.
We look forward to next year and all the film excellence London Indian Film Festival will present to audiences!