Aseem Chhabra named festival director

With film festivals dedicated to Indian cinema popping up all over the U.S., the granddaddy of them all, Indo-American Arts Council has upped its game with a new moniker, an earlier date and writer Aseem Chhabra as its festival director.

The New York Indian Film Festival will run May 4-8 at the Paris Theater in Manhattan with a . gala benefit at the Jumeirah Essex House after the opening night film has unspooled.

This year the fest will celebrate the 150th anni of the birth of Indian poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore on May 8 at the Asia Society.

The council has issued a call for submissions with a deadline of Feb. 20. Details are at http://www.iaac.us.

Chhabra promised Daily Variety five days of “good Indian cinema, interesting conversations, industry panels and great opportunities for young filmmakers.”

“The Indian film industry is going through dramatic changes as young filmmakers are breaking boundaries, writing innovative scripts and directing wonderful indie films,” Chhabra said. “Many of these films are now playing at major European and North American film festivals. Even Bollywood has had to adjust to these changes.

“At this critical juncture we at the New York Indian Film Festival have a wonderful opportunity to showcase some of the best recent films from India and also the diaspora.”

The fest started after Sept. 11 attacks as a way to create a better understanding of the Indian subcontinent.

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