BERLIN Indian cinema is coming to the city of Stuttgart in July for the fourth annual Bollywood and Beyond film festival, an event that is quickly becoming much more than a regional celebration of film.
The fest has come to symbolize the increasingly strong relationship between Stuttgart and its Indian partner-city Mumbai.
“City partnerships tend to get neglected after a while. The festival really revitalized the relationship and it has helped create greater interest on both sides,” says festival director Oliver Mahn.
Bollywood and Beyond launched in 2004 after being jointly developed by an Indian producers’ association and Stuttgart city officials who were part of a delegation attending the annual Stuttgart Meets Mumbai event in India.
While the fest presents high-profile Bollywood productions, Mahn says the event also seeks to showcase smaller independent and arthouse films, which don’t usually get the wide recognition that the major productions enjoy.
This year’s fest, which runs July 11-15, kicks off with John Jeffcoat’s Toronto screener “Outsourced,” about a young office manager in Seattle forced to travel to India after his service call center is relocated in Mumbai.
A total of 60 titles are unspooling at the fest, including Rajnesh Domalpalli’s “Vanaja,” which won the director the first feature film prize at this year’s Berlinale; Mani Ratnam’s drama “Guru,” Farhan Akhtar’s actioner “Don,” Saket Chaudhary’s comedy “Pyaar Ke Side Effects” and Himansu Khatua’s “Kathantara — Another Story,” a burgeoning romance set against a natural catastrophe.
Since its establishment in 2004, the fest has expanded into a major cultural and economic happening that now includes the Indian Food Festival as well as panel discussions, dance workshops and the highly anticipated Bombay Boogie Night party. Last year’s fest sold 6,500 tickets, but attendance to the broader umbrella event reached a total of 8,500 people. Organizers are expecting bigger crowds with the launch this year of the Indo-German Business Forum, which will run alongside the film and food fests.