Birmingham Indian Film Festival

Birmingham Indian Film Festival


Posted 2022-06-18 by dpmfollow

Fri 24 Jun 2022 - Tue 05 Jul 2022

(BIFF) returns this month promising a programme packed with world premieres, pioneering film-makers and a host of VIP appearances from globally-renowned directors and actors.

Taking place at cinemas across Birmingham and online between June 24 and July 5, the festival features thrillers, comedies, documentaries, short films and question and answer sessions with leading lights in the world of South Asian cinema including directors Anurag Kashyap and Aparna Sen.

BIFF is part of the London and Manchester Indian Film Festival and together they form the UK and Europe's largest platform for South Asian independent films. BIFF was launched in 2015 and festival director Cary Rajinder Sawhney MBE says each year it continues to expand.

He explains: "It's seven years since we began the Birmingham festival and it has grown exponentially. The festival appeals to so many different audiences. Usually South Asian film festivals are only in the language of Bollywood, which is Hindi, but what we do is provide films in different languages such as Bengali and Punjabi. This way audiences who want to hear their first or second language spoken have an opportunity to link in with their home culture."

And he adds: "It's about that shared experience, when you see something on the big screen you're sharing that culture and identity with others. I think it's very important for people who are first, second or third immigrant people. And around 30% of our audience isn't Asian – it's people who just want to come out and see a great film. We need this shared experience more than ever. This year we are promoting the idea of getting back into the cinema and seeing the films on the big screen. We are very sociable communities and it's important for our mental wellbeing to be sharing experiences."

These shared experiences include a red carpet Midlands premiere of the thriller Dobaaraa ahead of its general release, attended by India's most famed cult director Anurag Kashyap followed by a question and answer session.

The festival also sees the Midlands premiere of The Rapist with India's most prolific female film maker Aparna Sen and actress Konkona Sen Sharma taking part in a special In Conversation event. "We have so much talent coming this year," says Cary. "Virtually every film has got film makers coming with it, so it's a real chance to hear what they have to say and to talk to them, to ask them about their films, their cinema and their culture. We aren't just showing film - we have a live experience and, if you want to be a director or actor, then this is a must."

The festival profiles LGBTQIA movies including Birmingham-based Cassiah Joski-Jethi's Catch a Butcher and Ash Mukherjee's live performance Vishnu's Got My Back. Plus there is an ecological theme with No Ground Beneath The Feet which explores the devastating impact of climate change in Bangladesh. "If a festival is worth anything then you need to feature debate and opinion," Cary says. "And these are things that we are passionate about. For example, the festival has always been supportive of women film makers and we also like to include pioneering young film makers. We're the first mainstream South Asian film festival in the world to promote an LGBTQ strand and, as far as we know, we're the first to include an ecology strand."

The festival is keen to highlight current affairs. "The debate is there so why shouldn't we highlight it?," Cary says. "The reality is that India and Bangladesh are being affected by global warming very rapidly now and these are issues that we can do something about if we act now. We're showing positive films about these issues, so they are challenging but also helpful. So, when you come to the festival you will be entertained but you will also leave with something to think about."

In the run-up to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the festival also takes audiences into the world of sport. "We're capturing the spirit of the Games with two sporting films in the festival this year. Superfan: The Nav Bhatia Story is about a basketball team, the Toronto Raptors. When Nav Bhatia arrives in Canada he doesn't know anything about basketball, he only knows cricket, but then he builds up his knowledge of basketball and he builds his business empire and puts a lot of money behind the Toronto Raptors and gets the whole community behind the team. It's a super-happy documentary."

He adds: "There's also a beautiful film, Taangh, about an Indian hockey player Grahnandan Singh who has this incredible story. When India was partitioned between India and Pakistan his hockey team was split between the two countries, but he managed to rebuild the team just in time for the Olympic Games in London straight after Indian independence in 1948. It's a really emotionally charged film."

The festival takes place across the city with venues including Midlands Arts Centre, the Electric Cinema, the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Plus there is a virtual strand. "There is still the opportunity to engage with the festival through the online screenings," says Cary. "There are also premieres so are only available for one day so it's still a special event."

BIFF is supported by title sponsor Blue Orchid Hotels, Integrity International, the British Film Institute, Arts Council England and Birmingham City University. Cary hopes to continue to expand its reach going forwards. "We are always looking to work with key partners and we could, in the future, spread into other parts of the Midlands. We will go where the audience wants us so there is no reason that the festival won't keep growing. Watching a film on the big screen with other people adds to the cultural value of our lives and it's really important that the city and audiences get to see these works. It's taken six months to work on bringing the very best of South Asian cinema to Birmingham and people in the city are really behind it."

For the full programme see

!date 24/06/2022 -- 05/07/2022
70700 - 2023-01-26 01:48:46


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