“This year’s lineup is a testament to the rich variety of genre, style and skill that exists within the Indian filmmaking community. We’re enormously proud to present this collection of exciting, inspiring, and challenging stories that are sure to make for a thrilling festival experience,” said Mike Dougherty, IFFLA’s Director of Programming.
The festival will open with IN THE SHADOWS, starring Manoj Bajpayee in a tour de force performance as a reclusive shopkeeper who vows to rescue his young neighbor from abuse at the hands of his father. The film premiered at the Mumbai Film Festival and features an impressive Bollywood cast that also includes Ranvir Shorey, Neeraj Kabi, Shahana Goswami and introduces Om Singh as the young boy. The film’s award-winning Los Angeles-based director Dipesh Jain – making his feature debut – will be in attendance along with star Manoj Bajpayee.
Festival will close with the Los Angeles premiere of VILLAGE ROCKSTARS, one of the most lauded Indian films on the festival circuit in the past year. The film premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and is directed by emerging Indian filmmaker Rima Das. The film, written, shot, edited and directed by Das, is a touching coming of age story of a ten-year-old girl in a remote Assamese village who dreams of buying a guitar and starting her own rock band.
This year the festival will feature four world premieres, three North American premieres, two U.S. premieres, and 14 Los Angeles premieres. The lineup represents an impressive 12 languages and a strong list of first and second time filmmakers, including 11 female filmmakers.
The festival will also hold a memorial tribute to the late, beloved Bollywood actress Sridevi. IFFLA will screen a 2K print of Sridevi’s 1989 hit CHANDNI, courtesy of Yash Raj Films.
Highlights from the lineup include the U.S. Premiere of IFFLA alum Hansal Mehta’s 2017 Toronto Film Festival selection OMERTA, featuring rising Indian star Rajkummar Rao as notorious real-life terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh as well as THE ASHRAM, directed by Ben Rekhi and starring Sam Keeley, Melissa Leo, and Kal Penn. Rekhi brings together this star-studded cast for a story of mystical intrigue in the Himalayas. The film’s screening will be preceded by the world premiere of short film FIFTEEN YEARS LATER, directed by and starring Manish Dayal (THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY, VICEROY’S HOUSE, TV’s The Resident), and co-starring recent Golden Globe winner Rachel Brosnahan of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Matt McGorry (How to Get Away with Murder, Orange is the New Black), and Tracy Mulholland (CRAZY STUPID LOVE).
Other films in the lineup include the 2017 Toronto Film Festival selection THE HUNGRY, starring Bollywood royalty Naseeruddin Shah and Tisca Chopra in a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus”; Devashish Makhija’s festival favorite AJJI, a revenge story centered on a woman seeking justice for her 10-year-old granddaughter after a brutal assault; Nila Madhab Panda’s eco-thriller DARK WIND; and a pair of Malayalam language features: Bash Mohammed’s delightful fish-out-of-water comedy PRAKASAN and TAKE OFF, featuring South Indian superstar Parvathy in the true story of courageous Indian nurses who travel to Iraq for work and find themselves thrust into a hostage negotiation with ISIS. Parvathy has received multiple accolades for the role, including Best Female Actor at the International Film Festival of India, the first time an Indian actor has been given this honor.
On the non-fiction side, Vaishali Sinha’s ASK THE SEXPERT, about 93-year-old sex advice columnist Dr. Mahinder Watsa, headlines a progressive group of documentaries that also includes Ann S. Kim and Priya Giri Desai’s LOVESICK, about Dr. Suniti Solomon’s matchmaking service for her HIV-positive patients, and UP DOWN AND SIDEWAYS, a stunning ethnographic portrait of an indigenous community and their remarkable musical traditions.
Several of the lineup’s talented filmmakers and actors will attend the festival, including Hansal Mehta (OMERTA), Bornila Chatterjee (THE HUNGRY), Vaishali Sinha (ASK THE SEXPERT), Nila Madhab Panda (DARK WIND), AJJI lead actress Sushama Deshpande, and many more.
Competing in the shorts program are 13 films including Sundance highlight COUNTERFEIT KUNKOO, directed by Reema Sengupta, the first Indian short to be featured in Park City in 15 years, and the world premiere of AN ESSAY OF THE RAIN, directed by IFFLA Grand Jury Prize winner Nagraj Manjule (FANDRY).
OPENING NIGHT GALA: IN THE SHADOWS (Gali Guliyaan)
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Dipesh Jain
Logline: A reclusive shopkeeper vows to rescue his young neighbor from abuse – even if he must use his illegal network of surveillance cameras hidden around Old Delhi to do so.
Dipesh Jain’s impressive feature debut centers on Khuddoos (Manoj Bajpayee), a shopkeeper living in self-imposed isolation within the walled city of Old Delhi. In lieu of human interaction, Khuddoos monitors the people in his neighborhood via a series of hidden cameras he’s placed throughout the streets and alleys. Whether he fancies himself an amateur police officer or is a Peeping Tom is open to interpretation, but when Khuddoos hears the sounds of a young boy suffering abuse at the hands of his father – somewhere outside the view of Khuddoos’ cameras – he is spurred to take action.
Star Manoj Bajpayee delivers a tour de force, effortlessly relaying the deep wells of trauma that motivate Khuddoos’ sympathy for the unknown boy. Equally praiseworthy is 14-year-old first-time actor Om Singh as Idris, the subject of Khuddoos’ search. This young man possesses the gravitas of an actor with decades of experience, able to communicate his life’s history with one wounded look. Jain creates an intense, enthralling mystery around the shared pain of these two indelible characters, and in the process announces himself as a fiercely talented storyteller.
CLOSING NIGHT GALA: VILLAGE ROCKSTARS
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Rima Das
Logline: A ten-year-old girl in a remote Assamese village dreams of buying a guitar and starting her own rock band.
Dhunu, a free-spirited tomboy, lives with her widowed mother and older brother as they struggle to get by in their small village in Assam. One day, after seeing a band at a local event playing with Styrofoam “guitars”, she dreams of owning a real one of her own and becoming a rockstar. She saves money and forms a supporting band with the local boys, but her rockstar hopes seem impossible without magical thinking. After an epic rainfall destroys the local crops, Dhunu is caught between the fantasy life of youth and the harsh reality of adulthood. Having shot the film in her own home village of Chhaygaon, filmmaker Rima Das, who is the film’s director, writer, editor, director of photography, production designer, costume designer and casting director, shows the beauty of the landscape and people without hiding from the culture of conformity that threatens young girls. Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, VILLAGE ROCKSTARS has a soul and vision rare in Indian cinema today and marks Das as a major emerging filmmaker.
TRIBUTE PRESENTATION: CHANDNI
Director: Yash Chopra
IFFLA is honored to present this special memorial tribute to the late Sridevi, courtesy of Yash Raj Films. CHANDNI is a glorious ode to one of the finest actors of her generation at the peak of her career, beloved for her prolific work in Hindi as well as South Indian cinema. Fans of the late Vinod Khanna will also relish his performance in this film with evergreen songs, unexpected pathos and unabashed melodrama. Nearly 30 years later, the film remains one of Yash Chopra’s finest, and enshrines Sridevi with a character that arguably most closely matches her vulnerable and graceful real life persona.
Logline: After her fiancé is paralyzed in an accident, Chandni relocates to Mumbai and falls for a charming widower. When the two men become friends, Chandni must decide whom she truly loves.
When gregarious Rohit (Rishi Kapoor) meets the soft-spoken Chandni (Sridevi) at a wedding, it is love at first sight. After some dashing song-and-dance wooing in the Swiss mountains, Chandni agrees to his proposal. Tragically, Rohit is partly paralyzed in an accident and pushes her away. Chandni relocates to Mumbai where she falls for Lalit, a charming widower (Vinod Khanna). On a business trip, Lalit meets Rohit and they become fast friends; he invites Rohit to meet his fiancée. Chandni is overjoyed to see her ex rehabilitated, but is also placed on the horns of a romantic dilemma.
ASK THE SEXPERT
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Vaishali Sinha
Logline: Meet Mumbai’s most popular, and controversial, newspaper columnist: 93-year-old sex expert Dr. Mahinder Watsa.
The most popular column in a daily newspaper in Mumbai is one people are hesitant to admit they read. With many states banning sex education in schools and a general taboo around any kind of public talk about sex, 93-year-old Dr. Mahinder Watsa’s column is a lifeline to millions. With humor and kindness, he addresses topics like masturbation, premature ejaculation, gender equality, and sexual pleasure in non-moralistic terms. In addition to the column, the need amongst the people for honest and factual discussion about sex leads him to answer hundreds of emails and even counsel couples and strangers who arrive at his home unannounced.
Dr. Watsa’s kindness and lifelong commitment to sex education and health has made him a willing combatant against the more conservative elements of Indian society that see his life’s work as immoral. With charm and joy, ASK THE SEXPERT shows the power of knowledge over ignorance.
USA/2017/74mins/DCP/English, Tamil, Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Directors: Ann S. Kim and Priya Giri Desai
Logline: Realizing how damaging the fear of never being able to marry was for her HIV-positive Indian patients, one doctor sets up a matchmaking service to help them find love.
After discovering the first cases of HIV in India in 1986, Dr. Suniti Solomon left a prestigious academic job to build her own clinic focusing on treating HIV/AIDS patients. Several decades and breakthroughs in treatment later, her clinic is one of the highest regarded in the country and her patients are living longer lives. While surviving, some of her patients are not thriving. Being Indian, they feel immense societal and personal pressure to marry, but simultaneously face a stigma of being HIV-positive. Now in the twilight of her impressive career, Dr. Solomon takes the next step in her treatment by creating a matchmaking service for those seeking marriage. Through the service we meet Manu and Karthik, two of her patients who want to share their lives with someone but are fearful they never will. Shot over eight years and told with compassion and care, filmmakers Ann S. Kim and Priya Giri Desai give us a surprising and hopeful story about the universal healing ability of companionship and love.
UP DOWN AND SIDEWAYS
Los Angeles Premiere
Directors: Anushka Meenakshi and Iswar Srikumar
Logline: In a remote part of India, a co-operative of field workers has held off capitalism and Western pop culture by singing dazzling, polyharmonic folk songs, performed only when harvesting each other’s rice.
Directors Anushka Meenakshi and Iswar Srikumar took their camera to the farthest northeast corner of India to capture this ethnographic portrait of an indigenous community and their remarkable musical traditions. Villagers of Phet in the Nagaland region rely on rice cultivation as their primary means of subsistence. Together they form small teams called mülé, to work each other’s paddies year-round. As both men and women labor they sing lis, folk songs formally similar to the “call and response” style of African-American work music, but polyphonically more complex. The lyrics of love, friendship, strength and fatigue feel strikingly timeless and universal.
Lying on the border of Myanmar, the state of Nagaland has been fighting to preserve its cultural identity from Baptist missionaries as well as Indian government troops, permanently stationed there since a 1951 referendum on regional independence precipitated a federal crackdown. Despite the church’s efforts to divert singing to purely ecclesiastical purposes, the terraced hills around Phet are alive with the sound of mülés. This documentary should not be missed by music-loving IFFLA audiences.
North American Premiere
Director: Devashish Makhija
Logline: When a high-ranking politician’s son assaults her 10-year-old granddaughter and the police refuse to help, Ajji methodically devises a plan for revenge.
When 10-year-old Manda is brutally assaulted by Dhavle, a local politician’s violent and uncontrollable son, her family sees little hope for justice. Her parents – scraping by on meager earnings from technically illegal work – are scared into silence by a police force unwilling to hold the powerful accountable. Only Ajji, Manda’s aging grandmother, sees a path to vengeance. While Dhavle parades around town fearless of any reprisal, Ajji stealthily moves through dark alleys and butcher shops, methodically devising her plan for revenge.
Devashish Makhija’s engaging thriller casts a harsh eye on institutional corruption, inequality and above all, violence against women. In the title role, Sushma Deshpande brilliantly captures Ajji’s use of her status as an overlooked, underestimated woman to her advantage. Expected in her elder years to be docile, helpless and obedient, Ajji’s transformation into a determined avenging angel is riveting to watch, and her brutal revenge combined with Makhija’s sharp social commentary cuts deep.
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Ben Rekhi
Logline: Jamie travels to the Himalayas, armed with nothing but a guilty conscience, to infiltrate a mysterious monastery that may be behind the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.
Ben Rekhi brings together a star-studded cast for a story of mystical intrigue in the Himalayas with a twisty plot and startling climax that is sure to provoke discussion.
Following the trail of his missing ex-girlfriend, Jamie (Sam Keeley) discovers a remote monastery in the mountains founded by a guru with allegedly miraculous powers. As Jamie tries to pry secrets from the guru’s devoted acolytes (played by Kal Penn, Radhika Apte, and Oscar-winner Melissa Leo) he becomes more convinced that they know more about his lover’s disappearance than they’re telling him.
While employing the conventions of the religious cult thriller, Rekhi raises philosophical and metaphysical questions about the inherent corruption of those who seek power, even to do good, and the miracles of mindfulness.
DARK WIND (Kadvi Hawa)
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Nila Madhab Panda
Logline: The father of a struggling farmer clashes with his son’s vicious debt collector in this incisive portrait of climate change’s effects across India.
IFFLA regulars Sanjay Mishra (MASAAN, ANKHON DEKHI) and Ranvir Shorey (A DEATH IN THE GUNJ, TITLI) bring to life this sensitive yet pointed dramatization of climate change’s effects on a diverse cross-section of Indian society. In the Mahua region of Rajasthan, once known for flourishing farmlands, the ever-decreasing rainfall has left farmers without a crop to sell, and therefore with no money to repay their hefty bank loans. Hedu, the father of one such farmer, fears his son’s misfortune will lead him to drastic action. He pays a visit to a notorious debt collection officer, known as the “god of death” for his vicious tactics, looking to strike a bargain. But the agreement they reach might offer solutions for some, and total ruin for others.
Director Nila Madhab Panda masterfully constructs a thrilling story that – while it seeks to educate – plays more like great drama than as a didactic lecture. Through the engaging performances of his skilled cast, he makes tangible the desperation caused by an ever more unpredictable environment, and pays close attention to the deception and betrayal some must resort to in order to survive in such a harsh climate.
U.S. Theatrical Premiere
Director: Bornila Chatterjee
Logline: A wedding celebration between two powerful families erupts into deceit, revenge and murder in this update of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.
In this all-star adaptation of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, the bard’s notoriously bloody tale of deceit and revenge is cleverly modernized by director Bornila Chatterjee and relocated to a sumptuous wedding celebration in Delhi. The approaching nuptials are meant to solidify a powerful union between the families of two business magnates – Tathagat (Naseeruddin Shah), the wealthy head of a corporate empire, will marry off his son to Tulsi (Tisca Chopra), the widow of his former partner. However, the sins of the father’s past have driven Tulsi to concoct a devious scheme for revenge, which threatens to set both families on an irreversible path to destruction.
Those familiar with Shakespeare’s play know that chaos is on the menu, and witnessing Chatterjee’s intricately designed re-telling unfold is a wicked delight. Though the film looks with both contempt and sympathy on its sprawling cast of characters, this is ultimately a biting, withering critique of a ruling class that’s long since abandoned any notions of selflessness or the greater good.
India/2017/96mins/DCP/Hindi, English, Urdu
Director: Hansal Mehta
Logline: IFFLA alum Hansal Mehta directs rising star Rajkummar Rao in an examination of the life and crimes of notorious terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh.
Hansal Mehta returns to IFFLA with perhaps his most ambitious feature to date. Partnering once again with his muse, actor Rajkummar Rao, the two artists probe the life of British-born terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a man believed to have, among other despicable acts, funded the events of 9/11. In order to sketch a portrait of Saeed, Mehta and Rao bring us uncomfortably close to the man, combining known biographical elements of Saeed’s life with reenactments of crimes Saeed has confessed to, or is generally believed to have committed – most notoriously, the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.
While Mehta doesn’t purport to understand, much less explain, Saeed’s motivations – nor does he pretend his actions are anything other than vile – his skillfully mounted film provides a document of a terrorist who, undoubtedly, has had a massive influence on world events in the last twenty years.
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Bash Mohammed
Logline: Against the advice of friends and family, naïve Prakasan eagerly accepts a new job offer in the big city, but when he finds out that his duties consist of educating sassy sex-workers he realizes he’s the one who has a lot to learn.
In this witty and sweet fish-out-of-water comedy, director Bash Mohammed illustrates the virtues of cinematic simplicity in a classic story told with empathy and skill.
The outrageously endearing Dinesh Prabhakar plays the titular Prakasan, a young man lucky enough to be born into a paradisiacal forest brimming with fresh fruit where he can make love to his girlfriend in luminous natural pools. Yet Prakasan is dying to see the big city, so when he receives a job offer from a World Bank program, he happily leaves his idyllic home behind.
But his arrival in town is a shocking awakening. Nobody speaks his language, and even in their native tongue people don’t mean what they say. Most importantly, he discovers his new job is to educate sex-workers about public health, leading to comic misunderstandings but also to profound lessons. The result is an uplifting, clever story that is sure to delight IFFLA audiences.
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Mahesh Narayanan
Logline: Inspired by actual events, a team of Indian nurses in Iraq finds themselves trapped behind enemy lines in the war against ISIS.
Sameera (Parvathy), a nurse in Kerala, is determined to move to Iraq in order to make more money and pay off her suffocating student loans. Her husband and his family disapprove, leading to a divorce and his taking custody of their young son. Still unwavering in her decision, she agrees to a marriage with her work colleague Shaheed (Boban) and the two move to Tikrit, Iraq in 2014. Despite assurances from Indian and Iraqi officials that things are normal, the two are quickly involved in the daily violence from ISIS forces. Soon the city falls and Sameera is trapped, forcing her and Indian diplomats into a complex negotiation for the lives of herself, the other nurses and her husband. Parvathy gives a mesmerizing and layered performance of Sameera, an independent, fierce, yet vulnerable woman, that has won her many accolades including the Best Female Actor Award at the International Film Festival of India, the first ever for an Indian actor. First-time director’s Mahesh Narayanan’s TAKE OFF is both a compelling thriller and an exciting example of contemporary Malayalam cinema.
Director: Sudarshan Suresh
Logline: When Zola runs into an old fling, she sees a fleeting chance to escape her mundane life of caring for her invalid mother.
Zola can barely keep her head above water between the demands of a stressful job and the heavy burden of taking care of her invalid elderly mother. When she runs into an old fling, she sees a fleeting chance to escape the mundane treadmill of her life, and just for one night indulge in some romance.
Award-winning IFFLA alum Sudarshan Suresh (“Khargosh/The Rabbit”) examines with honesty and impeccable precision complex emotions oscillating between resentment and deep affection, in this beautiful character study about the chains that bind us to those we love.
Israel/2018/12mins/DCP/Hebrew, English, Gujarati
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Ruthy Pribar
Logline: Following a short trip to visit his family back in India, Raj returns to his job in Israel as caregiver to an elderly man, only to discover that a Filipino woman has taken his place.
Following a short trip to visit his family back in India, Raj returns to Israel and his work as caregiver to an elderly man, only to be greeted by a Filipino woman who seems to have taken over his job. When it becomes clear that the old man prefers a female presence around the house, Raj must find a way to reclaim what he feels is rightfully his.
With a humanistic lens that equally honors the complex realities of all three characters, this perceptive and sharply directed film sheds light onto the harsh realities of immigrant workers struggling to survive in an increasingly ruthless world.
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Reema Sengupta
Logline: Having escaped an abusive marriage, Smita is looking to rent an apartment in Mumbai, and she would be the perfect candidate if not for her one glaring flaw: she is a single woman without a husband to vouch for her.
Having escaped an abusive marriage, Smita is looking to rent an apartment in Mumbai. She is hardworking, financially independent and reliable, and would make the perfect tenant, if not for a single, unpardonable flaw—she is a single woman with no husband to vouch for her.
Boldly punctuated by an unsettling visual design, this nuanced and haunting portrait of an uncompromising woman determined to claim her rightful space, rises into a powerful outcry against a patriarchal society’s deep-rooted system of discrimination and misogyny. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
AN ESSAY OF THE RAIN
Director: Nagraj Manjule
Logline: A ten-year-old boy leading a harsh daily existence in a Maharashtra village blessed and cursed by merciless downpours, is given the homework assignment to write an essay in praise of rain.
Ten-year-old Raja leads a harsh daily existence in a Maharashtra village blessed and cursed by merciless downpours. Drenched and drained after an arduous day helping his drunken father and his mother with strenuous household chores, he must tend to his homework assignment and write an essay about the poetry and beauty of rain. But lush green mountains, flowing rivers, and magical rainbows are not what comes to mind for young Raja. His is another kind of essay on the rain.
Evocative cinematography and an unnerving soundscape make the pounding rain an unforgettable character in this film–omnipresent and unconquerable. Mixing raw realism with a dash of poetry and a gentle touch of humor, masterful storyteller Nagraj Manjule (FANDRY) delicately crafts a visceral and deeply moving tale about the disparities and ironies of life, and nature’s daunting reign.
FIFTEEN YEARS LATER
Director: Manish Dayal
Logline: Two young men independently deteriorate psychologically in post-9/11 America. Their lives come face to face fifteen years later.
Sam and Jason, two young men who have absorbed the psychological effects of post-9/11 America in ways they may not fully understand, find their buried issues and resentments bubbling to the surface when their lives intersect during a police traffic stop. Starring Manish Dayal (THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY, VICEROY’S HOUSE), Matt McGorry (TV’s How To Get Away With Murder, Orange Is The New Black), Rachel Brosnahan (TV’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, House Of Cards), and Tracy Mulholland (CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE, GRACE NOTE). Music from the Swet Shop Boys.
THE FISH CURRY (Maacher Jhol)
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Abhishek Verma
Logline: A reticent young man takes the leap to come out to his father over a lavish fish curry meal that he has lovingly prepared for him.
Lalit, a reserved young man, has decided to take the leap and come out to his family. He gets a haircut and invites his father over for dinner, having painstakingly prepared his favorite Bengali fish curry dish. As Lalit braces for the momentous occasion, his dad arrives armed with photos of eligible future wives.
A touching animated tale that examines delicate emotions with sensitivity and a fine eye for detail.
FISHERWOMAN AND TUK TUK
North American Premiere
Director: Suresh Eriyat
Logline: When she discovers a pearl in the belly of a fish, a Konkani fisherwoman abandons her trade and indulges in her wildest fantasies.
When she discovers a pearl in the belly of a fish, a Konkani fisherwoman resigned to a mundane life of daily struggle, abandons her trade and indulges in her wildest fantasy. She buys herself a brightly colored rickshaw (“tuk tuk”) and starts to cruise at lightning speed through the winding roads of her coastal village, with her cats in tow. Finally released from her daily drudgery, ecstatic at her newly found sense of power and freedom, she is the talk of the town and her own greatest hero, when, suddenly, an accident threatens to thwart her indomitable spirit.
An exuberant, wild and joyous tale about a woman’s awakening of dormant desires, that celebrates the thrill of adventure and the triumph of dreaming big and pursuing even our most wacky, psychedelic fantasies against all odds. Soulfully told in loud color and trippy animation, the film has won India’s National Award for Animation.
Director: Faroukh Virani
Logline: When his father passes away, a gay Gujarati American man must return to his small hometown to confront his estranged family.
When his father passes away, Vijay, a gay Gujarati American man must return to his small hometown to confront his estranged family. Tightly holding onto his armor of detachment, after years of alienation and bitter feelings of hurt and disappointment, Vijay sees any connection with his mother as utterly impossible. However, it may just be that the death of the patriarch may finally allow the seeds of acceptance to take root.
A poignant tale about the destructive force of parental rejection and the unexpected paths to forgiveness that may reveal themselves if we stay open to the possibility.
Director: Jennifer Rosen
Logline: Sameer returns home to Delhi to visit his young son and confront the life he left behind since forging a new path in Italy.
Married, with a son and a decent job in Italy, Sameer has come to Delhi to spend time with his other wife from an arranged marriage, a Rajasthani woman, and their young son, Laksh. On the eve of his departure from India, much is discussed and even more is left unfinished. Under the questioning gaze of his beloved son who faces an uncertain future in a disintegrating slum, Sameer struggles to come to terms with the consequences of his decisions that leave him painfully torn between two distant but profoundly beloved homes.
Delicate emotions resonate with formidable power in this intimate portrait of a family profoundly disrupted by a man’s hope to liberate himself from the chains of poverty, a noble aim that harbors some unanticipated and harrowing consequences.
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Siddharth Chauhan
Logline: In a remote Himachali village, a teenage boy experiences a sexual awakening when a handsome visitor passes through the area.
When his mom’s handsome friend unexpectedly shows up in the village, a teenage boy living in a remote area of Himachal Pradesh, is swept in a whirlwind of desire and vivid fantasy. As he struggles to rein in his strong impulses, he learns about “pashi”, an ancient technique of trapping birds, and begins to practice it.
Immersing us into a startling world of raw emotion and fierce imagination, this gripping exploration of young lust and its precarious impulses reveals a bold and razor sharp emerging storyteller.
Director: Ayesha Anna Ninan
Logline: When her best friend lands a high profile talent-booking job, Tara, an ambitious young comedian, loses all sense of humor.
Tara, an ambitious but struggling young comedian, loses all sense of humor when she finds out that her best friend has landed a high-profile talent booking job in Delhi. Unable to cope with intense feelings of jealousy and low self-esteem, she jeopardizes the friendship.
Framed by an enchanting performance by Aditi Vasudev (“Devi”), this heartfelt and spirited tale sheds light onto Mumbai’s urban youth and its competitive stand-up scene, where burgeoning ambition, a wavering sense of identity and heightened emotions are no funny matter.
TV IN THE FISH TAIL
Director: Iesh Thapar
Logline: As electricity and the miracle of television first arrive in a remote Himalayan village, the friendship of two teenage boys is put to the test.
In an isolated Himalayan village, two teenage boys, Tinley and Kobai, witness the arrival of the first TV sets. The hydro power plant that has recently been installed in the area is seen by the local community with a mixture of marvel and apprehension, and equally divides the two best friends. Tinley’s wealthier family has already bought a TV set and is eagerly awaiting electricity to kick in, whereas Kobai is skeptical about how these monumental intrusions will affect the order of the universe.
A brooding sense of dread lurks underneath the peaceful scenery of this isolated world in this atmospheric tale where the supernatural and the real soon start to merge.
WHAT IS YOUR BROWN NUMBER?
North American Premiere
Director: Vinnie Ann Bose
Logline: An animated satirical look at India’s obsession with fair skin.
Outside a hospital delivery room, a large family eagerly awaits the arrival of a newborn baby. News of a healthy baby boy soon arrives, but joy turns to horror when they baby’s skin tone is announced: Brown Number 80 on the fairness scale.
An irreverent animated look at India’s obsession with fair skin, that is at once humorous and chilling.
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Raghuvir Joshi
Logline: Delicate threads of a tender but impossible relationship unravel, as a young couple waits in court for their divorce to be finalized.
We meet Vishal and Nitya in a courtroom, waiting to tend to their divorce. As we cut back and forth between cold court proceedings and snippets of their tender partnership in life and in art, an intimate portrait emerges of a complex relationship between two soulmates who although keenly attuned to each other, cannot give each other the kind of love they need.
Formidably performed by Sayani Gupta (MARGARITA WITH A STRAW) and Priyanshu Painyuli (ONCE AGAIN) and laced with evocative classical Indian musical interludes, this sensitive directorial debut paints a visceral picture of the wondrous beauty of human connection and the fathomless pain of unrequited love.