Actor Rizwan Manji and “Margarita, With a Straw” writer-director Shonali Bose are among the jury selections for the 2016 feature and short film contests at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA).
The IFFLA, now in its 14th year, celebrates excellence in Indian cinema by showcasing films that promote diverse representations of Indian culture and perspective. Forging a connection between the entertainment industries of Hollywood and India, the five-day festival will feature over 25 productions from the Indian filmmaking community.
Joining Bose on the feature film judging panel is Variety‘s Shalini Dore and international film consultant Alesia Weston. Film director Aldo Velasco and documentary filmmaker Laura Nix will join Manji to judge the festival’s short film submissions.
This year’s festival will also feature a filmmaker roundtable conversation on the state of indie filmmaking in India. Moderated by Sundance Film Festival’s John Nein, the discussion will be held on April 9 and will include all the directors whose feature film productions were spotlighted at the 2016 festival.
The IFFLA also announced three additions to 2016’s lineup, which will now include a tribute to director Bimal Roy. Further details on these screenings are listed below:
A Tribute to Bimal Roy
SUNDAY, APRIL 10, 12:30PM
India / 1960 / 161 min / Blu-ray / Hindi
Director: Bimal Roy
2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of one of Indian cinema’s finest directors, Bimal Roy. To mark the occasion, IFFLA is presenting a restored version of one of Roy’s most beloved classics.
As they celebrate the first birthday of their daughter Rama, men from a local village bring a baby girl to the home of government engineer Upendra and his wife Charu. The baby’s parents were “untouchables” and both died from cholera, leaving the girl an orphan with no one willing to take her in. Being of high Brahmin castes, Upendra and Charu reluctantly agree to take in the baby and eventually give her a name: Sujata.
In a powerful portrayal and denunciation of the caste discrimination that destroyed so many lives, Roy tells a story about real people struggling with social expectations, bigotry and the feelings of love and compassion that bind us together. Showcasing memorable performances by Sunil Dutt and Nutan, with moving music by composer S.D. Burman, SUJATA premiered at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. Along with celebrating the new wave of Indian filmmakers, IFFLA is honored to pay tribute to a classic of Indian cinema.
SUNDAY, APRIL 10, 11:00AM
India, Canada / 2015 / 82 min / DCP / English and Hindi
Director: Sami Khan
Rog Moreau lives anonymously and aimlessly in a small town in Ontario. When his adopted mother unexpectedly dies, Rog loses his last tie to his Canadian upbringing and identity. Realizing he is dangerously spiraling, Rog decides to travel thousands of miles away to India to find the birth family that gave him up for adoption nearly thirty years earlier. His arrival is jarring, however, when he steps off the plane into the crowded sweaty streets of Mumbai and is confronted by his own foreignness in a strange, new land.
While eager to be reunited with his family, complications immediately threaten Rog’s search; a Catholic orphanage reveals his documents are forgeries. More desperate than ever, Rog sets out on a quest heading into Madhya Pradesh — the impoverished, rural heartland of India — to find the one local official who can help him solve the mystery surrounding his adoption. Rog’s journey takes him into the dark alleys, dusty roads and cramped train cars of India’s underclass as he tries to connect the threads of his own story. Ultimately he is pushed to his physical and emotional breaking point, forced to confront the ghosts that have been haunting him his entire life. Only then is he able to discover the truth.
THE TIGER HUNTER
Passholders Only Screening
SUNDAY, APRIL 10, 3:45PM
USA / 2015 / 93 min / DCP / English
Director: Lena Khan
Writer-director Lena Khan’s debut feature boasts a stellar cast, a colorful recreation of the 1970s and a boisterous comic spirit that aims equally for the heart and the funny bone. In this wholly original take on the immigrant experience, the incomparable Danny Pudi stars as Sami Malik, a young Indian who travels to 1970s Chicago to become an engineer. He’s determined to land a lucrative career in order to live up to the legacy of his late father—a legendary tiger hunter. However, Sami finds that success in America doesn’t come easy. When his job falls through, he takes a low-paying gig in the company basement and joins a gang of oddball friends in hopes of convincing his childhood sweetheart that he’s far more successful than he truly is… or perhaps ever could be.
Khan deftly conducts her ensemble in a story that finds huge laughs and pointed commentary on the treatment of immigrants in the American work force. Along with a star turn by Pudi – who earns leading man status with effortless charm – the film’s gifted cast includes scene-stealing performances from IFFLA alum Rizwan Manji (MISS INDIA AMERICA), NAPOLEON DYNAMITE’s Jon Heder, Glee’s Iqbal Theba, Karen David, Anand Desai-Barochia and many more.
The IFFLA runs April 6-10 at ArcLight Hollywood and the awards ceremony will be held on the final night of the festival. and many, many more.