The 7th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) announces the full schedule of films for the 2009 edition of the popular festival which runs April 21-26, including five feature films making their world premiere, five features making their U.S. premiere, and five features making their L.A. debut.
Celebrating its 7th anniversary in a year where Indian cinema has come to the forefront both in the national and international consciousness, IFFLA has firmly established itself as the first and largest film festival worldwide devoted to a greater appreciation of Indian cinema and culture through showcasing films, honoring entertainment industry performers and business executives, and promoting the diverse perspectives of the Indian diaspora. The six-day festival is set to open on Tuesday, April 21 at ArcLight Hollywood Cinemas with the World Premiere of Anand Surapur’s THE FAKIR OF VENICE, and close on Sunday, April 26 with Megan Doneman’s YES MADAM, SIR a documentary profiling Dr. Kiran Bedi, the first woman to join the Indian Police Service and a controversial and inspiring figure in India. Dr. Bedi will be in attendance as a guest of honor that evening along with director, Doneman.
Surapur’s THE FAKIR OF VENICE is about a hustler who is tasked with finding a fakir – a holy man, known for performing feats of endurance. Instead he finds a poor man who buries himself in sand on the beach to collect money from passersby and tourists. Together, the two con men venture to Venice, finding themselves in a strange land where their culture is commodified and exploited for artistic, political and spiritual purposes. Ultimately, they are forced to examine the course of their individual lives. Produced by Phat Phish Motion Pictures, the film stars noted filmmaker Farhan Akhtar, in his acting debut and Anu Kapoor. Surapur and Akhtar will both be attending the festival.
Regarding the film’s premiere, Akhtar said, “It is an honor to have THE FAKIR OF VENICE open the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. The film is an apt representation of a new kind of Indian cinema and I hope it will serve as a window through which the world can glimpse this evolution. Anand Surapur has been pushing the creative boundaries in television, music and film for years and this opportunity and recognition is truly well deserved. Congratulations to him and the entire team at Phat Phish.” An entertainment company on the pulse of contemporary Indian media/entertainment, Phat Phish Motion Pictures also is behind the feature QUICK GUN MURUGUN, screening at IFFLA this year.
Highlights of the 2009 program include high profile films from women including Nandita Das’s directorial debut, FIRAAQ, Deepa Mehta’s HEAVEN ON EARTH (the follow up to her Academy Award-nominated film, WATER), Sooni Taraporevala’s LITTLE ZIZOU (executive produced by Mira Nair), and Nina Paley’s animated SITA SINGS THE BLUES. The films lead an impressive list of nine films helmed by female filmmakers at this year’s festival.
Highly anticipated this year will be the salute to Bollywood legend Anil Kapoor one of Indian cinema’s most significant and popular personalities. The salute will include screenings of Kapoor’s classic films LAMHE (1991) and VIRASAT (1997) as well as the world premiere of the English language version of GANDHI, MY FATHER (2007). Kapoor produced the film which explores the cost Mahatma Gandhi’s own family bore due to his efforts to free the nation of India.
As part of IFFLA’s ongoing commitment to supporting and showcasing restored prints of Indian classic films, the festival will pay homage to BR Chopra by screening his classic, NAYA DAUR. One of the great Indian filmmakers, B.R. Chopra was famous for making hit Bollywood musicals with socially relevant themes. NAYA DAUR is arguably his most famous work, as it tackled the conflict between traditional Gandhian ideals and modern technology. The visually stunning restored colorized print will display the film in all its splendor on ArcLight Hollywood’s screen.
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Suneel Gupta will officially launch the Kahani Movement at IFFLA. The brothers are co-founders of the film project to capture and share stories from Indians that immigrated to the United States. Kahani accomplishes this by motivating second-generation Indian Americans to pick up a camera, interview their parents, and then post that footage to a central website. “These cherished stories are evaporating along with the people who lived them,” says co-founder Dr. Sanjay Gupta. “It is our generation’s responsibility to preserve those stories, so that they are never lost.” The process of collecting the stories has informally taken place for nearly a year prior to this official unveiling.
Also among IFFLA’s featured events will be a dinner to honor those selected for Korn/Ferry International’s list of 25 Most Influential South Asian executives in the U.S. entertainment and media industry. The list was created to recognize senior executives of South Asian background who have excelled in various roles within the entertainment business community.
The Opening and Closing Night Galas will feature music by DJ Sandeep Kumar and performances by Project Pulse, the popular Indian/Bollywood Fusion dance and drama team that incorporates an eclectic mix of styles. Chakra Cuisine will again delight with its delectable Indian-inspired feast, complimented with libations from Malibu Family Wines, official wine sponsor of IFFLA 2009, and Western Liquors.
IFFLA Festival Director Christina Marouda notes this year’s festival is very significant due to Hollywood’s enthusiastic embrace of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and the recent surge of business taking place between Mumbai and Los Angeles. “IFFLA is solidifying itself as a key touchstone in the US for the Indian entertainment industry at a time when the Indian film industry and the film business community in Hollywood are truly coming together.”
Five feature-length films will be making their world premiere at IFFLA 2009. Those films include the narrative features BOMBAY SUMMER; THE FAKIR OF VENICE; GANDHI, MY FATHER (English version), 7 DAYS IN SLOW MOTION and the documentary feature LEAVING HOME: THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF INDIAN OCEAN. The short films CURIOUS TODD AND THE MYSTERY DREAM; THE JOURNEY; and MUSIC BINDS ALL will also make their world premiere.
Five feature-length films will be making their U.S. premiere. That group includes the documentaries CHILDREN OF THE PYRE; SUPERMEN OF MALEGAON; the narrative films THE DAMNED RAIN (Gabhricha Paus); QUICK GUN MURUGUN and SIDDHARTH THE PRISONER. The short films DHIN TAK DHA; EYES OF SILENCE; A MANGO TREE IN THE FRONT YARD and THE PASSION OF CRICKET will also make their U.S. debut.
Five feature length films will be making their Los Angeles debut. They include the narrative films FIRAAQ; HEAVEN ON EARTH; KANCHIVARAM; LITTLE ZIZOU; and the documentary YES MADAM, SIR. The short films ANDHERI; BATTLE OF THE ALBUM COVERS, CANADA; EYES OF SILENCE; KAVI; KEY TUMI?; NARMEEN and SUKRIT’S SUNDAYS will also screen for the first time in Los Angeles.
The IFFLA full festival lineup, curated by a team including esteemed India-based senior programmer Uma Da Cunha, will showcase 20 features (15 narrative and 5 documentary) and 16 shorts for a total of 36 films representing 5 countries.
Tickets went on sale on April 1 at ArcLight Hollywood Cinema’s box office located at 6360 W. Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, CA and online at Arclight Cinemas
Festival passes will be available starting April 1 at IFFLA Official Website