Birmingham Indian Film Festival 2024

Birmingham Indian Film Festival 2024

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Posted 2024-06-12 by dpmfollow

Thu 27 Jun 2024 - Sun 07 Jul 2024


This year’s Birmingham Indian Film Festival is offering moviegoers in the West Midlands a host of top screenings and events.

The festival on 27 June – 7 July will be showcasing top international blockbusters, thought-provoking dramas, tear-jerking stories and fascinating documentaries.

Aiming to appeal to all audiences, the festival features films in a host of different South Asian languages subtitled in English, English-language films, an LGBTQIA+ strand and with British Sign Language at many of the events.

BIFF CEO and programming director Cary Rajinder Sawhney says: “All the films are accessible for everybody and it’s also an opportunity to see a whole South Asia which you wouldn’t normally get to see. These films show South Asia in ways that are not covered on Western or British TV. This is a chance to see what India has to say about itself, or how it reflects on itself. Learning more about these countries through these films is a really rare opportunity. They are top class movies and insightful documentaries which show South Asia in all its rich diversity.”



The Birmingham programme, which forms part of a national series of events making up a UK-wide Indian Film Festival, continues to grow, each year attracting a wider range of movies and audiences. “The festival is ever expanding outwards which is exciting,” says Cary. “This year we’ve got a commercial film in the festival for the very first time. It’s an interesting development for a festival like ours with 15 years experience because we’re moving from independent films to the big world players. So we are collaborating for the first time this year with Lionsgate for the Midlands premiere of Kill with a screening at Cineworld in Broad Street. It’s a big action movie - high octane.”

For Cary, the gem of the festival is in showcasing and celebrating difference through a range of genres. “We’re also not losing sight of our more socially issued films which relate to different language communities. Our festival is India and neighbours so we show films from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh and we have some lovely British Asian films which are in English. South Asia is a myriad of different identities and experiences. We don’t often get the chance to reflect our own richness of diversity and the festival gives us this opportunity. Those stories about different types of identities and experiences are really important for us to show.”

And he continues: “So a film like Wakhri about a Pakistani woman who accidentally becomes a social media star and starts championing the rights of women in Pakistan takes us into one community. And there’s also Queen of my Dreams which is a fabulous film about a young woman who goes back to Pakistan when her father passes away. Through that she discovers that her parents had a very Westernised romance and were fans of the Beatles in the 1960s which is completely the opposite of the way they portrayed themselves as very orthodox. And so she learns about her mother and her connection to her own identity.”

The festival highlights emerging talent and short films. “We will also reflect that diversity in our British Asian short films. And one new initiative is that we’re working with MACE (the Media Archive for Central England) to show archival films from the Midlands which reflect our history and experience. That’s about telling our story because, if we don’t tell it, nobody else is going to tell it for us.



The festival aims to embrace diversity. “We’re making sure that we are engaging with the minorities within our minorities so for the LGBTQIA+ communities we have our Too Desi Too Queer shorts. Most of our films will be subtitled in English and English language Before Nikkah will have closed captions, and many films will be accompanied by BSL-signed Q&As. That’s very important for us so we’ve been driving that forward across the country.”

BIFF takes place across venues including Midlands Arts Centre, Cineworld Broad Street, Mockingbird Cinema, Walsall’s The Light Cinema, Birmingham Open Media and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire at Birmingham City University. And alongside films, the festival features the screening of the first three episodes of the Canadian television series Late Bloomer, an XR showcase and Q&A sessions with special guests.

Cary says: “We have so many top-quality films. The opening night is the Midlands premiere of Paper Flowers which is about an inter-racial love story. It features a conservative Gujarati family where the son decides to fall in love with an American Chinese girl. Mixed race marriage is often a very controversial issue in South Asian communities but then the parents find they have a bigger problem to deal with in terms of their son’s health.”

He continues: “Sthal is about arranged marriages in India and about a young woman’s aspiration to be more than just a bride. It’s been winning awards around the world, and I saw it at the Bangalore Festival in March and thought ‘this is a very different film’. And we have the Midlands premiere of Before Nikkah, which is a brilliant British film about British Asians meeting on a first date.”

Factual films are also showcased. “We’ve got Tight which is a really interesting documentary about body builders in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu and we’re showing Parama with Aparna Sen talking about her journey as a film-maker. She’s India’s greatest female film-maker and she’s certainly very critical of many things. She’s a great speaker and it’s a wonderful film.”

BIFF is also expanding its offer looking at new technologies with a free event exploring XR curated by Taran Singh at BOM. “Last year we had a first foray into XR, which is a mixture of virtual reality and augmented reality, and this year we are taking it up a notch in Birmingham with the South Asian XR Showcase,” explains Cary. “We are looking much more at taking this into a forum and inviting the public and different young people to come and explore that whole idea of XR and what it could mean to the Midlands. We think Birmingham has the potential to be a hub for South Asian XR so we are really excited to see if that could flower with us and kickstart it and get it moving.”

Cary says BIFF aims to ensure one-off opportunities to enjoy special films and events. “These are high-quality films which have been shown at international festivals and have won awards and you’re getting to see them in Birmingham. They are very entertaining and high-quality films that also make you think and it’s an opportunity to explore other cultures. These films show people’s commonality. A lot of the time you see that through women’s experiences or the experiences of different minority groups how similar we are around the world in so many ways.”

BIFF runs from 27 June 27- 7 July, see https://birminghamindianfilmfestival.co.uk for more information and tickets.

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288253 - 2024-06-12 09:59:04

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