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Film still from IFFLA featured film 'Kanya'.

Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles Opens with an Expanded Virtual Lineup

The 19th edition of the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) returns with an expanded virtual lineup of shorts, narrative, and documentary features on May 20-27. The festival boasts a total of 40 films, including 3 World, 8 North American, 5 U.S., and 17 Los Angeles premieres, spanning 17 languages, with 16 women directors. 

IFFLA will open with the Los Angeles premiere of the powerful female-centric film, Fire in the Mountains, the 2021 Sundance-selected debut feature by Ajitpal Singh that immerses audiences in the splendor of the Himalayan mountains. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia will join Singh for an insightful conversation and Q&A, highlighting the journey of the making of the film. 

IFFLA’s closing film on May 27 will feature a screening of Sthalpuran (Chronicle of Space) by Akshay Indikar, the Marathi film that premiered at Berlinale 2020 and has captured the hearts of audiences at festivals around the world for its breathtaking minimalist exploration of the inner life of its protagonist, a young boy named Dighu. Long-time IFFLA alum Anurag Kashyap (Sacred Games, Gangs of Wasseypur) will join Indikar in a Q&A discussion, putting together an exciting up-and-coming independent filmmaker with one of the most celebrated independent filmmakers of our generation. 

“This is a very special year for IFFLA. Taking the festival online has given us the freedom to curate programs we would not have been able to present in a physical setting. We have expanded our reach to all California residents, doubled the shorts program with a strong representation of films from the diaspora, and curated discussions on timely and pressing topics, celebrating the independent film community from India and the Indian diaspora,” said Christina Marouda, Executive Director. 

IFFLA’s feature lineup includes a vast array of highlights from 13 regions in India, representing over seven languages, including the Los Angeles premiere of Rotterdam Tiger, the award-winning Tamil-language debut film from director PS Vinothraj Pebbles; the North American premiere of debut filmmaker Thamizh’s Seththumaan Pig, about the caste politics of food culture in rural Tamil Nadu; IFFLA alum Bhaskar Hazarika’s romance-thriller Aamis (Ravening); the powerful Bengali ensemble film Debris of Desire; and the North American premiere of National Award-winning filmmaker Farida Pacha’s disarmingly intimate documentary Watch Over Me.

The shorts competition lineup will spotlight notable films directed by women, including the 2021 Academy Award shortlisted film, Bittu by Karishma Dube and Sushma Khadepaun’s 2020 Venice Biennale selected Anita.

For more information and passes visit www.indianfilmfestival.org

Opening Night

FIRE IN THE MOUNTAINS

Film still from 'Fire In The Mountains'
Film still from ‘Fire In The Mountains’

India | 2021 | 104 mins | Hindi

Director/Screenwriter: Ajitpal Singh

Chandra single-handedly manages her family’s homestay in a Himalayan village, struggling to save for her son’s medical treatment, while her alcoholic husband spends their money on shamanic rituals, pitting desperate pragmatism against entrenched superstition. 

Closing Night  

STHALPURAN (CHRONICLE OF SPACE)

'Sthalpuran' film poster
‘Sthalpuran’ film poster

India | 2020 | 86 mins | Marathi

Director: Akshay Indikar

When eight-year-old Dighu’s father mysteriously disappears, he is forced to relocate with his mother and sister from their Pune home to his grandparent’s coastal village, turning his life upside down. 

BRIDGE

Film still from 'Bridge'
Film still from ‘Bridge’

India | 2020 | 88 mins | Assamese

Director/Screenwriter: Kripal Kalita

Drawn from real-life incidents, the story follows the unusual struggle and the accompanying empowerment of a teenage girl residing at the bank of a tributary of the mighty, overflowing Brahmaputra river in Assam.

THE TENANT

Film still from 'Tenant'
Film still from ‘Tenant’

India/USA | 2020 | 112 mins | English, Hindi

Director/Screenwriter: Sushrut Jain

A conservative Mumbai suburb is bestirred by the arrival of an alluring cosmopolitan woman in their midst. When a wide-eyed 13-year-old boy pursues a friendship with her, he stumbles upon her secret past and is thrust headlong into adulthood.

VANAJA

Film still from 'Vanaja'
Film still from ‘Vanaja’

India | 2006 | 111 mins | Telugu 

Director/Screenwriter: Rajnesh Domalpalli

After seeing 14-year-old Vanaja’s prowess, the reigning local landlady decides to teach her Kuchipudi dance. The initial chemistry between Vanaja and the landlady’s son turns ugly, pitching Vanaja into a battle of caste and hostility. 

KANYA

'Kanya' film poster
‘Kanya’ film poster

India | 2020 | 15 mins | Tamil 

Director: Apoorva Satish

An adolescent girl growing up in a traditional Tamil household aspires to become a competitive swimmer, but her life takes an unexpected turn when she gets her first period.

RAMMAT-GAMMAT

Film still from 'Rammat-Gammat'
Film still from ‘Rammat-Gammat’

India | 2018 | 18 mins | Gujarati 

Director/Screenwriter: Ajitpal Singh

Their different socioeconomic backgrounds have not stopped two schoolboys from being best buddies, but a brand-new pair of soccer shoes will put their friendship to the test.

PEBBLES (KOOZHANGAL)

Still from film 'Pebbles'
Still from film ‘Pebbles’

India | 2021 | 74 mins | Tamil

An irascible drunkard drags his reticent boy to a distant village to get his estranged wife to return, but when the encounter turns ugly, the journey home through unforgiving Tamil Nadu barrens transforms the father and son’s parched relationship. 

SETHTHUMAAN (PIG)

Film still from 'Seththumaan'
Film still from ‘Seththumaan’

India | 2020 | 112 mins | Tamil

Director/Screenwriter: Thamizh

A basket seller with big dreams for his grandson is asked by his bellicose landlord to prep a pig for a victory meal. The ensuing affair reveals the fraught caste politics surrounding forbidden meats in rural Tamil Nadu.  

WATCH OVER ME

Film still from 'Watch Over Me'
Film still from ‘Watch Over Me’

Switzerland/Germany/India | 2021 | 92 mins | Hindi, Malayalam

Director/Screenwriter: Farida Pacha

A palliative care team in New Delhi helps terminally ill patients and their families come to terms with the inevitability of death.

Short Films:

BITTU

India/USA | 2020 | 17 mins | Hindi 

Director/Screenwriter: Karishma Dev Dube

When adversity strikes, the future may depend on Bittu, a defiant young girl with a brilliantly foul tongue.

ANITA

India/USA | 2020 | 18 mins | Gujarati, English

Director/Screenwriter: Sushma Khadepaun

Anita returns to India for her sister’s wedding, eager to share some news about her exciting, independent life in America. But her pride quickly turns to disillusionment when the deep-rooted force of patriarchy rears its ugly head.


Mona Shah is a multi-platform storyteller with expertise in digital communications, social media strategy, and content curation for Twitter and LinkedIn for C-suite executives. A journalist and editor, her experience spans television, cable news, and magazines. An avid traveler and foodie, she loves artisan food and finding hidden gems: restaurants, recipes, destinations. She can be reached at: [email protected]