The Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival is a cinematic treasure trove of carefully curated premieres of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi independent films, offering rare glimpses into some of the billion plus lives in the sub-continent. Now in its ninth year it expands out in three cities: London, Birmingham and Manchester.

The programme of dramas, documentaries and shorts explores a compelling slate of controversial, entertaining and thought provoking themes with global resonances. The festival is title sponsored by the Bagri Foundation, which is dedicated to the promotion of Asian arts and culture. The festival also receives grant support from the BFI’s National Lottery Audience Fund.

Opening night

The festival helmer, with an all star Hollywood and Bollywood cast including Demi Moore, Mark Duplass, Freida Pinto, Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao, Richa Chadda, Anupam Kher, Adil Hussain, Sunny Parwar and Mrunal Thakur, is the World Premiere of “Love Sonia”, from the Academy nominated producer of Life Of Pi, David Womark. A compelling story of two loving sisters, who are forced into the sex industry in Mumbai. Main protagonist Sonia, is sustained by a fragile dream that is worth surviving for, her searing journey spans three continents and a lifetime of experiences that no young girl should have. Sonia is determined not to become one of the 800,000 women and children who are victims of the international sex trade industry every year. The director Tabrez Noorani, who was previously line producer on the multiple Academy, BAFTA and Golden Globe winner Slumdog Millionaire, and films like Zero Dark Thirty, and talent, are expected at Cineworld Empire Leicester Square on Thursday 21st June.

Closing night

The Festival finale red carpet is at BFI Southbank with the UK Premiere of “Venus”, a feel-good comedy about a Canadian Punjabi transgender person who is about to embark on surgery but suddenly discovers they are the father of a teenage boy who thinks they are the coolest dad on the planet. The director Eisha Marjara and talent are expected, on Friday 29 June.

Central Gala

The Central Gala is T For “Taj”, an inspiring tale about a roadside eatery owner who lives aside the main road to the Taj Mahal. He embarks on an innovative and risky plan to educate the local illiterate children by offering free food in exchange for tourists teaching the kids. Starring Aki Falkner (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pitobash (Million Dollar Arm). The director Kireet Khuranna and guests, are expected.

Festival Strands

‘The Female Eye’ showcases the work of six, exciting female filmmakers who offer very fresh stories and alternative cinematic styles in South Asian cinema. The English Premiere of multi-award-winning “Village Rockstars” is a joyous mother-daughter story about a freethinking village girl who dreams of being a rock guitarist, with Q&A by director Rima Sen. While “Teen Aur Aadha” (Three and a Half) is an envelope pushing compilation of three, dramatic tales of modern Mumbai shot in three and a half takes. British Bengali director Sangeeta Datta’s mesmerisingly beautiful “Bird of Dusk” examines the inner life of the late, great Bengali filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh. These and two other women filmmakers highlight some of India’s most original, cutting edge film talents. Alongside, this LIFF will also screen a cinematic tribute to the legendary Bollywood star Sridevi, who died in February, with a special treat for all her fans – a rare, silverscreen showing of Shekhur Kapur’s iconic 1987 blockbuster, “Mr India”, co-starring “Slumdog Millionaire” star Anil Kapoor.

‘Fathers & Sons’ is also a powerful theme running through this year’s festival, with films that explore Indian father and son relationships, from which boys learn their first lessons about masculinity. This role model has good sides and bad including toxic masculinity, which leads to violence against women. In The Shadows is a dark, agoraphobic debut by Dipesh Jain that depicts a ten-year-old’s story of struggling with a wife-beating father in an old Delhi chawl, starring the versatile Indian actor Manoj Bajpayee (Aligarh), who is expected at the festival. By contrast, the raucous, British comedy Eaten By Lions has Bradford teenager Omar and his half brother searching for his real Asian dad on the streets of Blackpool.

‘Extra-Ordinary Lives’ is a strand of films exploring everyday people in extraordinary circumstances. Kicking off this strand is the must-see English Premiere of Norway’s Oscar nomination, What will People Say, about a Pakistani girl, Nisha, who is forced to go to Pakistan after her father finds her with a white Norwegian lad and her fight for survival and self-determination. Kho Ki Pa Lu is a stunning documentary on the villagers of Nagaland (in Eastern India) and their Blues-like field songs. From South India is the much lauded Tamil drama My Son is Gay, and from North to Punjab, is the road movie Mehsampur and from Bangladesh is Doob (No Bed of Roses) starring Irrfan Khan (Slumdog Millionaire).

Hard hitting themes of famine and toilets

Meanwhile, by sharp contrast, a searing new documentary, Bengal Shadows interrogates the little known story of the Bengali Famine, where millions of Bengali’s perished at the British Empire and Churchill’s alleged hand in this calamity with a debate at the LSE including Economist Amartya Sen and Professor Tirthankar Roy. Grand Prix winner at Montreal Film Festival is the charming, family film Halkaa about a slum living boy who, instead of defecating on the rail lines, dreams of having his own private toilet and his eventful mission to try to get one built.

Mystical India

The Song of Scorpions is set in the deep deserts of Rajasthan, where a lone camel herder played by Irrfan Khan (The Lunch Box) is obsessed by a magical, female healer who has the power to sing away scorpion bites, played by Iranian actor Golshifteh Farahani (About Elly).

Festival Awards

The Festival’s annual Satyajit Ray Competition, presented in association with the Bagri Foundation, with its £1,000 prize offers a platform for emerging filmmakers and six, shortlisted entries will be screened. The Festival will present its Pure Heaven Icon Award and its Outstanding Achievement Award, supported by Sun Mark Ltd.

Cinemas

BFI Southbank, Cineworld cinemas, Empire Leicester Square and Wembley, the Barbican, Picturehouses Central, Crouch End and Stratford, Watermans Art Centre, Genesis, LSE and SOAS in London; mac Birmingham, Cineworld Broad Street and The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen in Birmingham; and HOME in Manchester will all host the festival.

Due to popular demand, reaching out to audiences outside London has become a priority for the festival, and with a successful few years in Birmingham, it is back there for a 4th year. The festival now also travels to Manchester for the first time, at HOME, a leading independent arts space. Over the weekend of Sat 30 June and Sun 1 July, there will be screenings of an eye-catching selection of must-watch films: the award winning Village Rockstars, British Asian comedy set in Blackpool – Eaten By Lions and our delightful alternative family values comedy Venus.

Words from the Festival Director

Festival director Cary Rajinder Sawhney says: “One great thing about being in the UK and especially London is that we are culturally intertwined to India and South Asia, not just through our shared history but our living, everyday experience where South Asian communities add so much to UK cultural life, of which cinema is an important aspect. This cutting edge festival showcases indie cinema that entertains but shows the more realistic and sometimes the raw side of South Asian culture but, at the same time, there are always stories of comedy, hope and the inexhaustible energy of over 1.3 Billion South Asian lives from the Indian subcontinent”.

Words from the Title Sponsor

Dr Alka Bagri, Trustee of the Bagri Foundation says: “For the fourth year, the Bagri Foundation is delighted to bring to the UK the best of independent South Asian cinema with LIFF. As a charity dedicated to celebrating the arts and culture of Asia in all its richness and diversity, from the traditional to the contemporary, we are proud to champion independent cinema and give a platform to new voices alongside established artists. The Festival is a key moment in the UK arts calendar and we are thrilled to place a spotlight on South Asian culture through engaging and audacious films that explore universal and topical subject matters such as identity, women’s empowerment and construction of masculinity.”

FILM LISTINGS

OPENING NIGHT GALA

Love Sonia
World Premiere, 120 mins, Recommended Cert 15
English, Hindi, Cantonese with English subtitles, India 2018.
Director: Tabrez Noorani.
With: Mrunal Thakur, Freida Pinto, Demi Moore, Mark Duplass, Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao, Richa Chadda, Riya Sisodiya, Anupam Kher, Adil Hussain, Sunny Pawar

Q&A with director Tabrez Noorani and cast and crew
Thur 21 June | 18.15 | Cineworld Leicester Square
Fri 22 June | 19:00 | Cineworld Broad Street, Birmingham
Sat 23 June | 20:15 | BFI Southbank

CLOSING NIGHT GALA

Venus
UK Premiere, 95mins, Recommended Cert 12A
English. no English subtitles, Canada 2017
Director: Eisha Marjara
With Debargo Sanyal, Jamie Mayers, Pierre-Yves Cardinal, Zena Darawalla, Gordon Warnecke

Q&A with Director Eisha Marjara and others

Fri 29 June | 18:15 | BFI Southbank
Sat 30 June | 18:00 | HOME Cinema Manchester

CENTREPIECE GALA

T For Taj Mahal
World Premiere, 104 mins, Recommended Cert PG
Hindi, English with English Subtitles. India 2018
Director: Kireet Khurana
With: Subrat Dutta, Ali Faulkner, Pitobash, Bidita Bag, Raveena Tandon

Q&A With Director Kireet Khurana and guests

Sat 23 June | 18:00 | Cineworld Leicester Square
Sun 24 June | 18:30 | Watermans Arts Centre

SPECIAL EVENT

Sridevi tribute. Mr India
Hindi with English subtitles India 1987, 179 mins, Cert 12
Director: Shekhar Kapur 
Presented by: Mr Surinder Kapoor Producer: Mr Boney Kapoor
Written by: Salim-Javed
Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal
 With: Sridevi, Anil Kapoor, Amrish Puri, Satish Kaushik

Sat 23 June | 16:00 | Genesis Cinema

FEMALE EYE

We are delighted to screen a special selection of new films by some of the coolest award-winning South Asian women filmmakers on the planet. The festival wouldn’t be complete without a golden memory of one of Indian cinema’s greatest with a screening dedicated to the late Sridevi.

Teen Aur Adha (Three and a Half)
International Premiere. 119 mins, Recommended Cert 12A
Hindi, Marathi with English Subtitles. India 2018
Director: Dar Gai
With: Zoya Hussain, Jim Sarbh, Suhasini Mulay

Q&A with Director Dar Gai

Sun 24 June | 20:00 | BFI Southbank
Mon 25 June | 20:45 | Genesis Cinema

Bird Of Dusk
UK Premiere, 92mins, Recommended Cert U
Bengali and English with English subtitles, UK/India/Spain 2018.
Director: Sangeeta Dutta.
With: Soumitra Chatterjee, Nandita Das, Aparna Sen, Kaushik Gangully, Dorothee Wenner, Konkona Sen Sharma

Q&A with Sangeeta Datta and guests.

Sun 24 June | 15:00 | BFI Southbank
Tues 26 June | 20:00 | Watermans Arts Centre

Village Rockstars
English Premiere, 87mins, Recommended Cert U
Assamese with English subtitles, India 2017.
Director: Rima Das
With: Bhanita Das, Basanti Das, Manabendra Das.

Q&A with Director Rima Das (BSL signed at Picturehouse Stratford)
Tues 26 June | 18:30 | Stratford Picturehouse
Weds 27 June | 18:20 | BFI Southbank
Sun 1 July | 16:00 | HOME Cinema Manchester

Hva vil folk si (What Will People Say)
English Premiere, 106 mins
, Recommended Cert 12A
Norwegian, Urdu with English Subtitles, Norway/Germany/Sweden 2017
Director: Iram Haq
With: Maria Mozhdah, Adil Hussain, Rohit Saraf, Ali Arfan, Sheeba Chaddha

Q&A with Director Iram Haq

Tues 26 June | 20:30 | Barbican
Weds 27 June | 18:30 | Picturehouse Central

Kho Ki Pa Lu (Up Down & Sideways)
UK Premiere, 83 mins, Recommended Cert U
Chokri with English Subtitles, India 2017
Director: Anushka Meenakshi, Iswar Srikumar

Sun 24 June | 16:00 | Barbican – Introduced by Soumik Datta
Weds 27 June | 20:00 | Watermans Arts Centre

FATHERS & SONS

A vital relationship which forms the backbone of how men construct their masculinity and their futures is the relationship with the first man in our lives, nearly always our father. He can be an inspiring positive mentor, or at worst 
a carrier of toxic masculinity that he has in turn inherited. We offer a few films to explore these complex father and son relationships.

Bhasmasur
International Premiere, 75 mins, Recommended Cert PG
Hindi with English Subtitles, India 2017
Director: Nishil Sheth
With: Trimala Adhikari, Mittal Chouhan, Raghav Dutt, Imran Rasheed, Bhushan Vikas, Ravi Goswami

Sat 23 June | 20:30 | Cineworld Wembley
Sun 24 June |16:00 | Cineworld Wembley

Eaten By Lions
English Premiere, 99 mins, Recommended Cert 12A
English (no subtitles), UK 2018
Director: Jason Wingard
With: Antonio Aakeel, Jack Carroll, Asim Chaudhry, Johnny Vegas, Nitin Ganatra, Kevin Eldon

Q&A with Jason Wingard and special Guests

Mon 25 June | 18:45 | Picturehouse Stratford
Weds 27 June | 20:00 | Cineworld Leicester Square
Sat 30 June | 16:00 | HOME Cinema Manchester

Gali Guliyan (In the Shadows)
UK Premiere, 117 mins, Recommended Cert 15
Hindi with English Subtitles, India/ UK 2017
Director: Dipesh Jain
With: Manoj Bajpayee, Neeraj Kabi, Shahana Goswami, Ranvir Shorey, Om Singh

Q&A with director Dipesh Jain

Fri 22 June | 18:00 | BFI Southbank
Sun 24 June | 18:00 | Barbican

EXTRA-ORDINARY LIVES

LIFF showcases independent films which celebrate depictions of ordinary lives through fiction and documentaries. This year we screen a selection of films, about the past and present, that show glimpses of real life in the subcontinent, which are sometimes hard, sometimes feel-good, and even comic but always compelling.

Halkaa (Relief)
European Premiere
Hindi, with English subtitles
India 2018 | 114 Mins 
Director: Nila Madhab Panda
 With: Tathastu, Ranvir Shorey, Paoli Dam

Fri 22 June | 20:00 | Cineworld Wembley
Sun 24 June | 16:30 | Cineworld Leicester Square

The Song of Scorpions
120 mins, Recommended Cert 15
Hindi with English subtitles, India/Switzerland/France 2017
Director: Anup Singh
Wit:h Irrfan Khan, Golshifteh Farahani, Waheeda Rehman, Shashank Arora.

Q&A with director Anup Singh

Sat 23 June | 18:30 | Picturehouse Central
Sun 24 June | 15:00 | Crouch End Picturehouse

Cycle
International Premiere, 101 mins, Recommended Cert U
Marathi with English Subtitles, India 2017
Director: Prakash Kunte
With: Hrishikesh Joshi, Bhau Kaman, Priyadarshan Jadhav, Deepti Lee
Sat 23 June | 16:30 | Watermans Arts Centre 
Sun 24 June | 18:30 | Cineworld Wembley

The Ashram
UK Premiere, 90mins, Recommended Cert 12A
English, India/USA 2017
Director: Ben Rekhi
With: Sam Keeley, Melissa Leo, Kal Penn, Radhika Apte, Hera Hilmar

Fri 22 June | 20:30 | Cineworld Leicester Square
Weds 27 June | 20:30 | Crouch End Picturehouse

Doob (No Bed of Roses)
UK Premiere, 86 mins, Recommended Cert 12A
Bengali with English subtitles, Bangladesh/India 2017
Director: Mostofa Sarwar Farooki
With: Irrfan Khan, Parno Mittra, Nusrat Imroz Tisha, Rokeya Prachy

Q&A with director Mostofa Farooki
Sun 24 June | 18:30 | Genesis

Bengal Shadows
Documentary. 48 mins, Recommended Cert 12A
Bengali, English, French with English subtitles. France/India 2017
Director: Joy Banerjee & Partho Bhattacharya
With: Soumitra Chatterjee, Madhushree Mukerjee, Richard Toye

Fri 22 June – Post screening discussion with Professors Amartya Sen & Tirthankar Roy

Fri 22 June | 18:30 | London School of Economics (LSE)
Mon 25 June | 18:45 | Genesis Cinema

My Son is Gay
UK Premiere, 105 mins, Cert 12A
Tamil with English Subtitles, India 2017
Director: Lokesh Kumar
With: Anupama Kumar, Ashwinjith, Abhishek Joseph George, Kishore Kumar G.

Mon 25 June | 18:30 | SOAS – Khalil Lecture Theatre
In partnership with Queer Asia

Uma
European Premiere. 148 mins, Recommended Cert PG
Bengali with English Subtitles. India 2018
Director: Srijit Mukherji
With: Jisshu Sengupta, Sara Sengupta, Anjan Dutt

Sun 24 June | 18:30 | Cineworld Leicester Square
Tues 26 June | 18:30 | Cineworld Leicester Square

Mehsampur
UK Premiere. 96 mins, Recommended Cert 15
Punjabi, Hindi, with English subtitles. India 2017
Director: Kabir Singh Chowdhry
With: Navjot Randhawa, Devrath Joshi, Lal Chand, Surinder Sonia, Kesar Singh, Tikki, Jagjeet Sandhu

Fri 22 June | 18:15 | Picturehouse Central
Sat 23 June | 20:30 | Cineworld Wembley

SATYAJIT RAY SHORT FILM AWARD

The festival’s annual Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition and Award is a rare chance to see the works of talented, emerging filmmakers, who are exploring themes of South Asian experience. The competition’s final shortlist films are screened at SOAS on 27 June and the winner of the 2018 award is announced on the festival’s Closing Night.

In association with the Bagri Foundation.

The Peanut Seller
 19 mins. Hindi, 2017 Germany/ India 
Director: Etienne Sievers.
An orphaned young ragpicker battling isolation and poverty in the streets of New Delhi tries to locate the one man capable of helping him find his mother.

Maun 
11 mins. Hindi, 2017 India
Director: Priyanka Singh.
 A couple are shocked and distraught to find out their daughter has been sexually molested by their neighbour and struggle to decide on a course of action.

The Fish Curry 
12 mins. Hindi, 2017 India 
Director: Abhishek Verma.
In this beautifully realised animation a young man prepares his fathers favourite fish curry as he decides to come-out to his parents over the dinner table.

Circle 
14 mins. Hindi, 2017 India/ UK
 Director: Jayisha Patel.
A haunting portrait of a rape survivor, caught in the devious ploys of her family.

Paro 
20mins. Hindi, 2017 India 
Director: Vijay Kumar.
A powerful drama about a young girl sold to Haryanvi family as a bride.

Jaan Jigar
 19 mins. Hindi, 2017 India 
Director: Ranjan Chandel. 
A sweet and charming tale of two teenagers in the throws of first love meeting to have their first kiss.

Dreams
 10mins. Tamil, 2017 India 
Director: Athithya Kanagarajan.
Dilip, a twelve year old paper boy is overjoyed at the prospect of his idol, Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam attending his school annual day celebration.

Weds 27 June | 18:45 | SOAS
Recommended cert 15

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