The annual festival, in it’s tenth year, seeks to showcase emergent Indian filmmakers and their films while promoting the diverse perspective of the Indian diaspora. Christina Marouda, IFFLA founder and president states, “We’ve had filmmakers who came here with a three-minute short film some years ago, their first time out of India, who are now talking with studios here and are being represented by Creative Artists Agency.”
Although not every film fares well with audiences, Deepa Mehta’s “Water,” a sneak preview of “Slumdog Millionaire” and Manish Acharya’s “Lions of Punjab Presents” are some of IFFLA’s successful presents.
Roughly 33 short and feature films, often made on a shoe-string budget by Indian filmmakers will be presented to not only a large general audience but also to prominent Hollywood power brokers who sit on juries and partake in one-on-one “speed dating styled sessions which provide opportunities to forge relationships for individuals whose subject matter is related to the Indian culture and whose work rarely get distribution outlets,” says Surekha Paruchuri IFFLA’s publicity coordinator.
The Hollywood panelists support IFFLA in many ways. In 2010, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) presented a special reception for actor Anil Kapoor at IFFLA where former SAG President Alan Rosenberg was present to honor him.
IFFLA events are also a favorite watering hole for Indian celebrities from current American film and television who have made a splash in Hollywood in recent years including Hannah Simone (“New Girl”), Janina Gavankar (“True Blood”), Sendhil Ramamurthy (“Heroes,” “Covert Affairs”), Vik Sahay (“Chuck”), Kunal Nayyar (“The Big Bang Theory”), and Parvesh Cheena (“Outsourced”). Popular Bollywood celebs include Shah Rukh Khan, Anupam, Nasseeruddin Shah, and directors Shekhar Kapur and Mira Nair.
Movie addicts will not be lacking in IFFLA’s smorgasbord of films. Over 300 submissions were rigorously evaluated and out of the handful which will be presented audiences should not miss the premiere of “The Kite,” a film about a about a young woman who learns to appreciate her culture on a visit to her native Gujarat with her father during the kite festival and “Abu Son of Adam” an Oscar entry for foreign films. Other films to consider are “Under the Same Sun” a film about religious tolerance set in a Rajasthani village and the documentary “The Great Indian Marriage Bazaar” by director Ruchika Muchhala who offers a humorous narrative about her experience of going through the process of a modern day arranged marriage.
The 10th anniversary marks a special milestone for IFFLA and the celebration will include a family day geared toward children with not only multiple activities but also the screening of “Gattu,” a film about an orphan boy who despite his meager life finds opportunities to be a kid.
A crowd-pleaser, the “Bollywood by Night” series will be back along with IFFLA’s “Rhythm Village” which will celebrate its 5th anniversary and will create a folksy and festive atmosphere through its entertainment by world-renowned artists and Bollywood dance groups.
Grand jury and audience awards will be presented to filmmakers with special attention to it 5th Industry Leadership Awards (ILA) “to recognize the achievements of industry executives who have had a substantial impact on the creation and distribution of Indian themed content globally and have led the expansion of the entertainment and media industry in India,” according to Paruchuri.
The success of IFFLA can undoubtedly be attributed to its staff but also to an uncanny contributor across the world. Marouda, a Greek immigrant was introduced to Indian cinema as a teenager by her older sister, a fan of Indian culture and films. While working with the American Film Institute Film Festival (AFI Fest), Marouda was inspired to create the film festival after quickly realizing that there were no film festivals in the United States specifically promoting Indian films despite the fact that it had the most prolific film industry in the world.n
April 10 – 15. 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
ArcLight Cinema Hollywood, 6360 W. Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles; House of Blues, 8430 West Sunset Boulevard West Hollywood. General $14, Passes $250, $100, Events $125 – $75. www.indianfilmfestival.org.