This spring Los Angeles will be home to quality cinema from India. And like spring, it will bring the colors of India—its culture and languages, its people, their struggles and celebrations, to the fore. With an eclectic mix of features, documentaries and shorts, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) is a five day festival offering groundbreaking films, galas, performances, and networking opportunities.
Celebrating its 15th year, IFFLA promises to be special, showcasing a mix of works by established directors and emerging filmmakers. Mike Dougherty, Director of Programming, IFFLA, elaborates, “In a country of more than a billion people with 22 official languages, you’re sure to find a rich variety of work from a broad spectrum of artists.”
The works are spread over nine languages, and include films by masters like Adoor Gopalakrishnan Once Again in Malayalam and Suman Mukhopadhyay’s Incomplete in Bengali. Celebrated director Vikramaditya Motwane’s dramatic thriller Trapped, the directorial debut of actress Konkona Sen Sharma’s A Death in the Gunj, Ananya Kasaravalli’s The Chronicles of Hari, a film about a renowned theater actor’s struggle with gender identity and Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy’s A Billion Colour Story.
Opening Night features Alankrita Shrivastava’s film Lipstick Under My Burkha, (see review in this issue of India Currents) a tale of four women, seeking a small slice of freedom from their repressive surroundings. Bold and irreverent, the film has been garnering awards in the festival circuit, but has been banned by the Indian censor board. Excited about her film opening the festival, Alankrita says, “IFFLA is a prestigious film festival, and it’s quite an honor to screen my film there.”
The Festival closes with the Los Angeles premiere of Hotel Salvation, the debut feature of Shubhashish Bhutiani, whose 2013 short film Kush was shortlisted for the Live Action Short Film Oscar.
IFFLA offers a platter of award-winning and topical documentary films including Machines, winner of the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Excellence in Cinematography at Sundance, and the U.S. premiere of An Insignificant Man, directed by Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla. The film centers on the polarizing political figure Arvind Kejriwal and gives a stirring behind-the-scenes look at his creation of the political outfit Aam Aadmi Party.
The Cinema Travellers directed by Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya which won L’Œil d’or Special Mention: Le Prix du documentaire at the Cannes Film Festival, makes its way to the LA audiences. “It is a great honor for the film to have found a home at IFFLA—its spirited show-people are truly bringing the best of Indian cinema to L.A.,” adds Abraham.
IFFLA brings a special evening with legendary tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, joined by Zane Dalal, Associate Music Director of the Symphony Orchestra of India. The event will begin with a screening of the documentary An Indian Accent, directed by Sumantra Ghosal, which chronicles Hussain and Dalal’s collaboration on Hussain’s original concerto piece Peshkar.
“The prestige that Vikram Motwane, Zakir Hussain, Zane Dalal and John Nein represent will no doubt contribute to an unforgettable 15th anniversary for our festival,” concludes Dougherty.
April 5-9. www.indianfilmfestival.org.