Mumbai: The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA), which returns to in-person screenings and events this year, will showcase 26 films, including the world premiere of Anmol Sidhu’s “Jaggi” and North American premieres of Faraz Ali’s ‘Shoebox’ and Natesh Hegde’s “Pedro”.
In its landmark 20th Anniversary edition, IFFLA will also inaugurate a Spotlight on South Asia section, feature a 20th Anniversary Shorts special program celebrating the festival’s history, with a pre-festival screening of IFFLA alumni shorts highlighting films representing each year of the festival’s history with an in-theater co-presentation with New Filmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA)
The festival will also include a gala presentation of Pan Nalin’s “Last Film Show” besides the 10 feature films and 16 shorts.
IFFLA, to be held from April 28 to May 1, will present a live script read previewing an IFFLA alumnus’ next feature project, and include the announcement of a filmmaker mentorship initiative to further support emerging South Asian filmmakers.
“Reflecting on IFFLA’s 20 years, we find ourselves overjoyed by the range of incredible talent we have discovered and celebrated, introducing numerous emerging and established voices to Los Angeles…
“We are now ramping up our efforts to support the careers of filmmakers by adding to the programs IFFLA has become known for over the past two decades, not just as a touchstone for our filmmakers, but also as a bridge to their next films, IFFLA Executive Director Christina Marouda said in a statement.
Nalin’s “Last Film Show” debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival and has been screened at film festivals across the world. A second Gala presentation will be announced at a later date.
Sidhu’s “Jaggi” follows a schoolboy in rural Punjab who faces toxic masculinity and sexual abuse when he’s assumed to be gay.
Making its North American premiere is Faraz Ali’s “Shoebox”. The film tells a coming-of-age story of a young woman who watches her father struggle to keep the family’s single screen movie theatre operating while everything changes around them.
Also making its North American premiere is Natesh Hegde’s “Pedro”. The film focuses on a taciturn electrician who becomes a social outcast in his small Karnataka town after becoming involved in a drunken incident.
IFFLA’s co-director of programming, Thouly Dosios, said this year’s festival is about reclaiming the powerful act of cinema as a communal experience.
“At the same time, it is about mindful evolution; our post-pandemic world forces us to reassess how we connect with each other and share our stories. The limitations we’ve had to deal with have empowered us to forge ahead with an expanded mind and a wilder imagination, Dosios said
Co-Director of programming Ritesh Mehta said the rise of South Asian voices in the global arena will be reflected in their programming.
“This 20th year, we’re beyond thrilled to have corralled some of these groundbreaking visions, and in turn offer some inspiring discoveries back to the culture.
The feature film lineup also includes Irfana Majumdar’s “Shankar’s Fairies”, a tale set in 1960s Lucknow about the touching bond that develops between the young daughter of a police chief and the family’s head servant, through his fantastical stories.
Aditya Sengupta’s sumptuous Bengali drama “Once Upon a Time in Calcutta”, Nithin Lukose’s critically acclaimed directorial debut “Paka” (River of Blood) and Rahul Jain’s documentary “Invisible Demons”, which premiered in Cannes’ Cinema for the Climate section are also part of the festival screenings.
Of the 11 short films presented in IFFLA’s main competition lineup, 8 are helmed by women directors.
This section boasts four world premieres, including Megha Ramaswamy’s provocative psychological horror “Lalanna’s Song”, co-produced by Guneet Monga; Ambiecka Pandit’s “Under the Waters”, a raw coming of age drama produced by Vikramaditya Motwane; the deadpan debut “Adventures of Faisal Rehman” by Mir Ijlal Shaani; and Varun Chopra’s politically charged documentary “Holy Cowboys” extremism. The section also includes Student Academy Award winner, “Close Ties to Home Country” by Akanksha Cruczynski.
IFFLA’s new Spotlight on South Asia section features Bangladeshi filmmaker Abdullah Mohammad Saad’s psychological thriller “Rehana” (Rehana Maryam Noor).
The spotlight includes the shorts “1978” (Pakistan) by award-winning director Hamza Bangash, Salar Pashtoonyar’s 2021 Student Academy Award winner “Bad Omen” (Afghanistan/Canada), Sunil Pandey’s Rotterdam 2022 selection “Baghthan” (Nepal), Nuhash Humayun’s 2022 SXSW Midnight Shorts Grand Jury Prize winner “Moshari” (Bangladesh), and Seemab Gul’s “Sandstorm” (Pakistan), which premiered at the 2021 Biennale’s Orizzonti.
As part of IFFLA’s 20th Anniversary celebration, the festival will showcase a hybrid presentation of 20 short films, including movies by Umesh Kulkarni’s absurdist tale “The Fly” (Makkhi), the Academy Award nominated “The Little Terrorist by Ashvin Kumar, and Nagraj Manjule’s “An Essay of the Rain”.