The 17th annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) concluded on Sunday with a red carpet and gala that featured the world premiere of director Megha Ramaswamy’s “The Odds”, a coming-of-age tale about two teens who skip school on an important exam day and go on a fantastical journey through Mumbai. The evening also featured the presentation of the festival’s Grand Jury and Audience Choice Awards presented by HBO.
IFFLA is widely recognized as the premiere showcase of groundbreaking Indian cinema globally. The festival took place April 11-14, 2019 at Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center in Los Angeles, California with the gala presentations at the Ahrya Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills. This year’s lineup boasted 5 world premieres, 2 North American premieres, 2 U.S. premieres and 11 Los Angeles Premieres, with films presented in 9 different languages, and 50% of the lineup coming from female directors.
Director Praveen Morchhale’s “Widow of Silence” took home the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature. “We present the grand jury prize to a film that illuminates a condition that most of the world doesn’t get to see and shines a light on the characters that live through it everyday,” said the Grand Jury of their decision. “This filmmaker’s civic disobedience illustrates their love and compassion for their country and their people, and the craft of their filmmaking was beautifully wise and refined.”
“A layered portrait of a woman determined to pursue her needs and impulses,” the Grand Jury awarded their prize for Best Short to “The Field” from director Sandhya Suri. “The film takes images that normally evoke a sense of fear and flips the narrative on its head redefining a new more empowered world for the female protagonist and exploring an often unseen story of a woman’s drive and agency over her own body and life,” the jury added. “Set against a visually stunning landscape and beautiful photography of rural India, the filmmaker’s adept storytelling comes to life flowing through rhythmic twists and turns imbued with both the mundane day-to-day life and desirous love.”
The 2019 narrative film jury included director Amman Abbasi (“Dayveon”), Arcadia University media and communication professor Shekhar Deshpande, and Array vice president Tilane Jones. The short film jury featured director Amy Adrion (“Half the Picture”), director Andrew Ahn (“Spa Night”, “Driveways”), and producer Megha Kadakia (“The Tiger Hunter”, “Miss India America”).
AWARD WINNERS: FEATURES
Grand Jury Award – “Widow of Silence” (director: Praveen Morchhale)
Audience Award – “Reason” (director: Anand Patwardhan)
Honorable Mention- “Taking the Horse to Eat Jalebis” (director: Anamika Haksar)
AWARD WINNERS: SHORTS
Grand Jury Award – “The Field” (director: Sandhya Suri)
Audience Award – “Bebaak (Dying Wind in Her Hair)” (director: Shazia Iqbal)
Honorable Mention – “Circle” (director: Jayisha Patel)
The festival opened on April 11 with a tribute and moderated discussion with legendary Indian actress Tabu, paired with a screening of her latest film “Andhadhun” directed by Sriram Raghavan. Additional weekend highlights included director Ritesh Batra’s “Photograph”, unforgettable feature debut from director Ronny Sen “Cat Sticks”, moving family drama “Love Goes Through Your Mind” directed by UCLA alum Ronak Shah, and the heartwarming family film “Chippa” directed by Safdar Rahman and starring “Lion”‘s Sunny Pawar. A TV-centric panel discussion “Breaking in Brown: Making it to Series in TV’s Golden Age” highlighting the work of South Asian actors, directors, writers and producers was also presented.