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19th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles Announces Expanded Virtual 2021 Lineup

19th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles Announces Expanded Virtual 2021 Lineup

IFFLA To Run May 20th – 27th, Opening With Fire in the Mountains, Presented by Asif Kapadia, and Closing with Sthalpuran (Chronicle of Space), Presented by Anurag Kashyap

Special programs include “Childhood on Edge” curated by Uma da Cunha, a panel featuring South Asian showrunners, and a special screening of Prakash Deka’s Fireflies, followed by a panel on transgender and non-binary representation in India and the diaspora.

Magazine, Entertainment

 The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) announced today its full lineup of narrative and documentary features, and shorts for the festival’s 19th edition, which will be held virtually and geo-blocked to California, on May 20-27. Passes go on sale today, April 15, at www.indianfilmfestival.org.

The festival boasts an impressive total of 40 films, including 3 World, 8 North American, 5 U.S. and 17 Los Angeles premieres, spanning 17 languages, with 16 women directors.

“This is a very special year for IFFLA. Taking the festival online has given us the freedom to curate programs we would not have been able to present in a physical setting. We have expanded our reach to all California residents, doubled the shorts program with a strong representation of films from the diaspora, added special programs like “Childhood on Edge”, and curated discussions on timely and pressing topics, celebrating the independent film community from India and the Indian diaspora,” said Christina Marouda, Executive Director.

IFFLA will open with the Los Angeles premiere of the powerful female-centric film, Fire in the Mountains, the 2021 Sundance-selected debut feature by Ajitpal Singh that immerses audiences in the splendor of the Himalayan mountains. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia (Amy, Sienna) will join Singh for an insightful conversation and Q&A, highlighting the journey of the making of the film.

IFFLA’s Closing film on May 27 will feature a screening of Sthalpuran (Chronicle of Space) by Akshay Indikar, the Marathi film that premiered at Berlinale 2020 and has captured the hearts of audiences at festivals around the world for its breathtaking minimalist exploration of the inner life of its protagonist, a young boy named Dighu. Long-time IFFLA alum Anurag Kashyap (Sacred Games, Gangs of Wasseypur) will join Indikar in a Q&A discussion, putting together an exciting up and coming independent filmmaker with one of the most celebrated independent filmmakers of our generation.

Of note this year is a special program curated by the legendary Uma da Cunha, who has been IFFLA’s Programming Advisor since the festival’s inception in 2002. Childhood on Edge” will present three diverse features (Bridge, The Tenant, and Vanaja) and three shorts (Rettai Jadai, Kanya, and Rammat-Gammat) with characters on the verge of the momentous transformation from childhood to adulthood.

IFFLA’s feature lineup includes a vast array of highlights from an extraordinary 13 regions in India, representing over seven languages, including the Los Angeles Premiere of the prestigious Rotterdam Tiger Award-winning Tamil-language film Pebbles, a debut film from director PS Vinothraj; the North American premiere of debut filmmaker Thamizh’s Seththumaan (Pig) about the caste politics of food culture in rural Tamil Nadu; IFFLA alum Bhaskar Hazarika’s romance-thriller Aamis (Ravening); the powerful Bengali ensemble film Debris of Desire; and the North American premiere of National Award-winning filmmaker Farida Pacha’s disarmingly intimate documentary Watch Over Me.

This year’s selection features stories highlighting exceptional, memorable female characters, including the 2020 Berlinale selected drama Laila Aur Satt Geet (The Shepherdess and The Seven Songs), the Malayalam-language story Biriyaani, and the Film Bazaar Goes to Cannes selected thriller Uljhan (The Knot).

The festival also features a strong lineup of films directed by women, most notable in this year’s shorts competition lineup, which comprises an eclectic selection of 21 films presented in four shorts programs. 13 languages are represented in this program, with a strong presence of 13 films from the South Asian diaspora, including the 2020 Student Academy Award winner and 2021 Academy Award shortlisted film, Bittu by Karishma Dube; the 2020 Venice Biennale selected Anita by Sushma Khadepaun; 2021 Rotterdam selection Letter From Your Far-Off Country by Suneil Sanzgiri; and the world premieres of American Anomie by Shahriar Azim, and Last Night In Vegas by J. Nicholas Meese.

Other highlights from the shorts lineup include the Grand Prix winner of the 2020 Cannes’ Cinéfondation competition, Catdog by Ashmita Guha Neogi; the 2021 Sundance-selected Lata by Alisha Tejpal, the 2021 Clermont-Ferrand award winner Angh by Theja Rio; and India’s 2021 National Award Winner Custody by Ambiecka Pandit. Four of the films in the program are directed by IFFLA alums, including For Each Other, the latest film by Rima Das (Village Rockstars).

Passes 
Passes are now on sale. For more information please visit www.indianfilmfestival.org or follow us on Facebook (/indianfilmfestival), Instagram (@indianfilmfestival) and Twitter (@iffla).

About IFFLA

The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) is a nonprofit organization devoted to a greater appreciation of Indian cinema and culture by showcasing films and promoting the diverse perspectives of the Indian diaspora.

Special Screenings and Panels

Opening Night

FIRE IN THE MOUNTAINS
India | 2021 | 104 mins | Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Ajitpal Singh
Producers: Ajay Rai, Alan McAlex
Cast: Vinamrata Rai, Chandan Bisht, Sonal Jha, Mayank Singh Jaira

Logline: Chandra single-handedly manages her family’s homestay in a Himalayan village, struggling to save for her son’s medical treatment, while her alcoholic husband spends their money on shamanic rituals, pitting desperate pragmatism against entrenched superstition.

Closing Night

STHALPURAN (CHRONICLE OF SPACE)
India | 2020 | 86 mins | Marathi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Akshay Indikar
Producer: Sanjay Shetye
Screenwriters: Akshay Indikar, Tejashri Kamble
Cast: Neel Deshmukh, Anushree Wani, Sonia Mahale, Rekha Thakur

Logline: When eight-year-old Dighu’s father mysteriously disappears, he is forced to relocate with his mother and sister from their Pune home to his grandparent’s coastal village, turning his life upside down.

Childhood On Edge – Special Program

BRIDGE
India | 2020 | 88 mins | Assamese
Los Angeles Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Kripal Kalita
Producers: Rama Kumar Das, Sabita Devi
Cast: Shiva Rani Kalita, Anindita Das, Kripal Kalita, Partha Protim Bora

Logline: Drawn from real life incidents, the story follows the unusual struggle and the accompanying empowerment of a teenage girl residing at the bank of a tributary of the mighty, overflowing Brahmaputra river in Assam.

THE TENANT
India/USA | 2020 | 112 mins | English, Hindi
World Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Sushrut Jain
Producers: Kanchan Kalra, Daniel Walter
Cast: Rudhraksh JaIswal, Shamita Shetty

Logline: A conservative Mumbai suburb is bestirred by the arrival of an alluring cosmopolitan woman in their midst. When a wide-eyed 13-year-old boy pursues a friendship with her, he stumbles upon her secret past and is thrust headlong into adulthood.

VANAJA
India | 2009 | 111 mins | Telugu
Director/Screenwriter: Rajnesh Domalpalli
Producer: Latha R. Domalapalli
Cast: Mamatha Bhukya, Urmila Dammannagari, Marikanti Ramachandriah, Karan Singh

Logline: After seeing 14-year-old Vanaja’s prowess, the reigning local landlady decides to teach her Kuchipudi dance. The initial chemistry between Vanaja and the landlady’s son turns ugly, pitching Vanaja into a battle of caste and hostility.

KANYA
India | 2020 | 15 mins | Tamil
North American Premiere
Director: Apoorva Satish
Producer: Michal Sikora
Screenwriters: Apoorva Satish, Vidhya Iyer
Cast: Tarunya Satish, Mona Kakade, Harish Kumar, Balaji Rajashekar

Logline: An adolescent girl growing up in a traditional Tamil household aspires to become a competitive swimmer, but her life takes an unexpected turn when she gets her first period.

RAMMAT-GAMMAT
India | 2018 | 18 mins | Gujarati
Los Angeles Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Ajitpal Singh
Producers: Drishyam Films, Accord Equips, Mauli Singh
Cast: Shivam Math, Yash Patel, Swati Das

Logline: Their different socioeconomic backgrounds have not stopped two school boys from being best buddies, but a brand-new pair of soccer shoes will put their friendship to the test.

RETTAI JADAI (THE GIRL WITH THE RED RIBBONS)
India/Germany | 2020 | 19 mins | Tamil
North American Premiere
Directors: Franziska Schönenberger, Jayakrishnan Subramanian
Producer: Franziska Schönenberger
Screenwriter: Franziska Schönenberger
Cast: Charulathaa Murali, Rubini A.S, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Bindhumalini Narayanaswamy

Logline: Adolescent Viru envies her best friend Bhanu for the beautiful red ribbons she wears on her hair, something she cannot afford. But when an unexpected mishap makes her the source of ridicule at school, Viru will discover what true friendship is made of.

Narrative Features:

AAMIS (RAVENING)
India | 2019 | 107 mins | Assamese
Los Angeles Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Bhaskar Hazarika
Producer: Shyam Bora
Cast: Lima Das, Arghadeep Baruah, Neetali Das

Logline: Forbidden by society from consummating their desires, a PhD student and a married pediatrician sublimate their feelings for one another into a sensual obsession with exotic meats that drives them to break the ultimate taboo.

BIRIYAANI
India | 2020 | 95 mins | Malayalam
Los Angeles Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Sajin Baabu
Producer: UAN Film House
Cast: Kani Kusruti, Shailaja Jala, Surjith Gopinath, Anil Nedumangad

Logline: When her brother is accused of ISIS terrorism, a Muslim woman is ostracized by her conservative, rural Kerala community. Disallowed to be a mother, daughter and wife, she must decide how to stand up against societal oppression.

DEBRIS OF DESIRE (MAYAR JONJAL)
Bangladesh/India | 2020 | 101 mins | Bengali
North American Premiere
Director: Indranil Roychowdhury
Screenwriters: Indranil Roychowdhury, Sugata Sinha
Producers: Josim Uddin Ahmed, Indranil Roychowdhury
Cast: Ritwick Chakraborty, Aupee Karim, Chandreyee Ghosh, Sohel Mondal

Logline: The lives of a petty criminal, in love with a savvy sex worker, and a laid-off factory employee, desperate to stop his pragmatic wife from working, collide – in a fleeting moment sealing their fates with a misguided criminal attempt to fulfill their dreams of a better life.

JUST LIKE THAT (AISE HEE)
India | 2019 | 120 mins | Hindi
US Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Kislay
Producer: Shwetaabh Singh
Cast: Mohini Sharma, Harish Khanna, Sadhna Singh, Trimala Adhikari

Logline: After her husband of 52 years dies, Mrs. Sharma defies the expectations of her family and refuses to move in with them, choosing instead to forge her own path and strike up new friendships that make her the talk of her small town.

LAILA AUR SATT GEET (THE SHEPHERDESS AND THE SEVEN SONGS)
India | 2020 | 99 mins | Gojri, Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Pushpendra Singh
Producers: Gulab Singh Tanwar, Pushpendra Singh, Ajit Singh Rathore, Sanjay Gulati
Cast: Navjot Randhawa, Sadakkit Bijran, Shahnawaz Bhat, Ranjit Khajuria

Logline: The beauty of Laila becomes the talking point in the shepherd community when she marries Tanvir and moves in with his family. When a local cop starts getting increasingly obsessed with her, the fierce woman plays a recurrent, amorous game that could spin dangerously out of control.

PEBBLES (KOOZHANGAL)
India | 2021 | 74 mins | Tamil
Los Angeles Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: P. S. Vinothraj
Producers: Nayanthara, Vignesh Shivan
Cast:  Karuththadaiyaan, Chellapandi

Logline: An irascible drunkard drags his reticent boy to a distant village to get his estranged wife to return, but when the encounter turns ugly, the journey home through unforgiving Tamil Nadu barrens transforms the father and son’s parched relationship.

SETHTHUMAAN (PIG)
India | 2020 | 112 mins | Tamil
North American Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Thamizh
Producer: Pa. Ranjith
Cast: Manickam, Master Ashwin, Suruli, Prasanna Balachandran

Logline: A basket seller with big dreams for his grandson is asked by his bellicose landlord to prep a pig for a victory meal. The ensuing affair reveals the fraught caste politics surrounding forbidden meats in rural Tamil Nadu.

ULJHAN (THE KNOT)
India | 2021 | 107 mins | Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Ashish Pant
Producer: Kartikeya Narayan Singh
Cast: Vikas Kumar, Saloni Batra, Nehpal Gautam

Logline: An upper middle class couple who hits a rickshaw driver with their car must face the moral implications of their actions when the driver’s younger brother shows up at their doorstep informing them the injured man is fighting for his life.

Documentary Features:

A RIFLE AND A BAG
India/Romania/Italy/Qatar | 2020 | 89 mins | Gondi, Madiya, Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Directors/Producers/Screenwriters: Cristina Hanes, Isabella Rinaldi, Arya Rothe

Logline: After surrendering their identities as fighters in India’s infamous pro-tribal rights Naxalite movement, Somi and her husband face challenges re-integrating into mainstream rural life and in securing documentation and education for their young son.

WATCH OVER ME
Switzerland/Germany/India | 2021 | 92 mins | Hindi, Malayalam
North American Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Farida Pacha
Producer: Lutz Konermann
Cast: Maniamma R., Sini Kuriakose, Dr. Reena Sharma

Logline: A palliative care team in New Delhi helps terminally ill patients and their families come to terms with the inevitability of death.

Short Films:

AMERICAN ANOMIE
USA | 2021 | 25 mins | English, Russian
World Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Shahriar Azim
Producers: Wajahat Khan, Aastha Verma
Cast: Aman Soni, Marina Zoreva, Kim Estes, Nadine Jackson

Logline: A young immigrant who sees his American dream fade away while working the night shift of a shabby Los Angeles motel faces the impossible task of having to choose who deserves a bed for the night.

ANGH
India | 2021 | 23 mins | Konyak
US Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Theja Rio
Producer: Nancy Nisa Beso

Cast: Amo Rio, Johan Solo, Shekato Chishi

Logline: As Christianity takes hold of Nagaland, a Headhunter village chief and his son struggle to hold on to the last remnants of their tribal culture.

ANITA
India/USA | 2020 | 18 mins | Gujarati, English
Los Angeles Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Sushma Khadepaun
Producer: Ankur Singh
Cast: Aditi Vasudev, Mitra Gadhvi, Sanjivani Sathe, Nikhil Dave

Logline: Anita returns to India for her sister’s wedding, eager to share some news about her exciting, independent life in America. But her pride quickly turns to disillusionment when the deep-rooted force of patriarchy rears its ugly head.

ANNUAL DAY (SALANA JALSA)
India | 2020 | 30 mins | Marathi
North American Premiere
Director: Pratik Thakare
Producer: Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute
Screenwriter: Pratik Thakare, Shweta Kamat
Cast: Ankita Nikrad, Aniruddha Deodhar, Shridhar Kulkarni

Logline: The annual day school function evokes latent aspirations in three feisty teenagers who will stop at nothing to show off their unique talents.

BITTU
India/USA | 2020 | 17 mins | Hindi
Director/Screenwriter: Karishma Dev Dube
Producer: Mary Evangelista
Cast: Rani Kumari, Renu Kumari, Saurabh Saraswat

Logline: When adversity strikes, the future may depend on Bittu, a defiant young girl with a brilliantly foul tongue.

CATDOG
India | 2020 | 20 mins | Hindi, Marathi
North American Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Ashmita Guha Neogi
Producers: Bhupendra Kainthola, Film and Television Institute of India
Cast: Rachana Godbole, Prem Dharamadhikari, Ketaki Saraf, Arjun Radhakrishnan

Logline: Two young siblings find refuge in a startling world of their own making, where they are free to act out their beguiling impulses and fears.

COFFEE SHOP NAMES
USA | 2020 | 8 mins | English
Los Angeles Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Deepak Sethi
Producer: Valerie Steinberg
Cast: Danny Pudi, Karan Soni, Kausar Mohammed, Anders Holm

Logline: As they wait for the barista to call out their coffee drinks, three Indian colleagues fantasize about their alternate personas that inspired their fake Americanized names.

CUSTODY
India | 2019 | 23 mins | Hindi, English, Bengali, Marathi
US Premiere
Director/Producer: Ambiecka Pandit
Screenwriters: Ambiecka Pandit, Karan Pandit
Cast: Karan Pandit, Trimala Adhikari, Geetika Vidya, Swaroopa Ghosh

Logline: When carelessness results in tragedy, a group of friends celebrating New Year’s Eve in Mumbai turn on each other.

THE FLYING TRUNK
India | 2019 | 13 mins | Pahari
US Premiere
Director/Producer/Screenwriter: Siddharth Chauhan
Cast: Arush Thakur, Divya Tegta Saagar, Zunchi Devi, Sheetal Mehta

Logline: In a remote Himalayan village, a young orphan boy’s imagination is fueled by his eccentric grandmother’s fantastical tales.

FOR EACH OTHER
India | 2019 | 22 mins | Assamese
North American Premiere
Director/Producer/Screenwriter: Rima Das
Cast: Dorothie Bharadwaj, Lakshaya Sharma

Logline: When an accident disrupts the harmonious rhythms of a quaint Assamese community, the blossoming romance between a carefree tempo driver and a spunky shop owner will come to the test.

FOREVER TONIGHT
USA | 2020 | 11 mins | English
Los Angeles Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Swetha Regunathan
Producer: Nashwa Zaman, Khaula Malik
Cast: Nivita Chaliki, Ethan River Cohen, Gulshan Mia, Sandra Belforte

Logline: A suburban Indian American teenager will do whatever it takes to fulfill her prom night fantasy.

GHAZAAL
India | 2019 | 15 mins | Dari
Director/Screenwriter: Ragini Bhasin
Producer: Kevin Wang
Cast: Ghazaal Khirandesh, Bilal Khirandesh, Farid Khirandesh

Logline: A resourceful teenager living in a refugee camp where basic personal hygiene has become a luxury is on a mission to survive the onset of her menstrual period.

LAST NIGHT IN VEGAS
USA | 2020 | 8 mins | English
World Premiere
Director: J. Nicholas Meese
Producer: Priya Ghosh
Screenwriters: Nikko Benson, Priya Ghosh, J. Nicholas Meese
Cast: Kamalini Ghosh, Remy Kidd, Anirudh Balagopal

Logline: On the eve of her arranged marriage, a perfect Bengali American daughter sings about the not-so-perfect choices she made at her bachelorette party in Vegas.

LATA
India | 2020 | 22 mins | Hindi, Marathi, English
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Alisha Tejpal
Producer: Mireya Martinez
Screenwriters: Alisha Tejpal, Mireya Martinez
Cast: Shobha Dangale

Logline: Honing a quiet strength, Lata, a young domestic worker, navigates her way through an upper class household in South Mumbai.

LETTER FROM YOUR FAR-OFF COUNTRY
India/USA | 2020 | 18 mins | English, Hindi, Urdu
Los Angeles Premiere
Director/Producer/Screenwriter: Suneil Sanzgiri
Cast: Shashi Sanzgiri

Logline: A father reads aloud a letter his far-off son has written to their fallen relative, a follower of anti-caste leader B.R. Ambedkar, their conversation evoking other letters, footage and poetry that protest the alienation of Kashmir, from 1989 to today.

THE LOYAL MAN
France | 2019 | 37 mins | Tamil, French
US Premiere
Director: Lawrence Valin
Producers: Simon Bleuzé, Marc Bordure
Screenwriters: Marlene Poste, Lawrence Valin
Cast: Lawrence Valin, Aurora Marion, Anthonythasan Jesuthasan

Logline: A devoted henchman’s loyalty to Sir, the feared leader of the Parisian Tamil mafia, is shaken when he takes a young immigrant woman under his wing.

A PERIOD PIECE
USA | 2020 | 11 mins | English
Los Angeles Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Shuchi Talati
Producer: Esra Saydam
Cast: Sonal Aggarwal, Nardeep Khurmi

Logline: When Geetha and Vehd finally have sex, a messy emotional conflict breaks out when period blood stains Geetha’s pristine couch.

THE SHOWER
USA | 2019 | 14 mins | English
Director: Mahesh Pailoor
Producers: Adil Chamakh, Pia Shah
Screenwriter: Pia Shah
Cast: Pia Shah, Emily C. Chang, Rupak Ginn

Logline: Two worlds collide when Maya’s oldest friend shows up at her baby shower, single and child-free.

THE SONG WE SANG
India | 2020 | 20 mins | English, Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Aarti Neharsh
Producers: Rahul Tejwani, Chintan Bhatt, Manan Bhatt
Screenwriters: Aarti Neharsh, Chintan Bhatt
Cast: Serena Walia, Ayushi Gupta

Logline: Roaming the streets of Ahmedabad on a festive Navaratri night, two young women may have the chance to fall for each other.

UNCLE
USA | 2019 | 12 mins | English
Director: Andrew Carter
Producers: Kahlil Maskati, Andrew Carter, Omar Maskati, Cory Yee, Amy Hartman
Screenwriter: Kahlil Maskati
Cast: Omar Maskati, Ajay Naidu, Rizwan Manji

Logline: A father and son’s daily morning commute is the perfect time for some good bickering and their chance for connection.

WADE
India | 2020 | 11 mins | No Dialogue
Directors/Screenwriters: Upamanyu Bhattacharyya, Kalp Sanghvi
Producers: Upamanyu Bhattacharyya, Kalp Sanghvi, Arya Menon, Prateek Sethi, Paolo Polesello

Logline: In the hellscape that is a future Kolkata flooded due to climate change, a family of climate refugees scrapes through, until one day they are ambushed by a starving tiger.

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