The 2022 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) recently wrapped up an exciting 20th edition announcing its list of coveted winners. This year’s internationally acclaimed film festival marked a return to in-person screenings and events including a Gala presentation of Pan Nalin’s Last Film Show. IFFLA showcased 26 films (10 features, 16 shorts), including the world premiere of Anmol Sidhu’s Jaggi, and the North American premieres of Faraz Ali’s Shoebox and Natesh Hegde’s Pedro.
The 2022 IFFLA Features Jury comprised Lakshmi Iyengar (Executive Vice President, Minor Realm); Smriti Mundhra (Academy Award nominee, Director, St. Louis Superman); and Jonathan Wysocki (Director, Dramarama), while the Shorts Jury consisted of Geetika Lizardi (Writer, Bridgerton, Mira, Royal Detective); Sid Mehra (Manager of Development and Production, Endeavor Content); and Carey Williams (Director, Emergency, R#J).
Winning the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature, Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s Once Upon A Time in Calcutta was cited for “its sprawling, operatic depiction of broken people desperate to connect, and its poetic mastery of cinematic craft” by the IFFLA jury.
For the 20th anniversary edition of the film festival, a new award was presented in honor of IFFLA’s beloved advisor in India, the legendary Uma da Cunha. Uma has been a founding member of IFFLA, always championing Indian independent cinema and emerging voices. Her selection was Anmol Sidhu’s Jaggi, of which she said, “Few independent films in India are made in the Punjabi language and fewer still find their way into festivals to reach a wider audience. This film needs to be seen in a milieu where sexual matters tend not to be addressed openly.”
Jaggi, which follows a schoolboy in rural Punjab who faces toxic masculinity and sexual abuse when he’s assumed to be gay, was also the recipient of the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature.
An honorable mention went to Shankar’s Fairies (dir. Irfana Majumdar) which the jury lauded for “its restrained and lyrical portrait of the unconditional bond between a young girl and the gentleman who cares for her family.”
The jury awarded the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short to Succulent by Amrita Bagchi. The Shorts Jury felt this film “beautifully taps into our deep longing for genuine connection in a world that is increasingly artificial. With devastatingly believable performances, it is a beautiful reminder to nurture what is alive and real in our lives.”
The Grand Jury Prize for the Spotlight on South Asia section went to Bad Omen by Salar Pashtoonyar. The jury remarked that it was “a raw and visceral film that showed us that above all else, honest filmmaking always wins.”
The Audience Choice Award for Best Short went to the irresistible, wildly ambitious and stimulating debut, 7 Star Dinosor Entertainment by Vaishali Naik, a film that takes head-on the uncertain times we live in, with a story that is brimming with poetry, humor and a lot of soul.
An Honorable Mention (Shorts) went to a film that the jury noted “impressed us all with its daring, boundary-pushing filmmaking and two extraordinary lead performances. Lalanna’s Song by Megha Ramaswamy possesses a singular and unique vision and we can’t wait to see a feature version!”
Another Honorable Mention (Shorts) went to Close Ties to Home Country by Akanksha Cruczynski. The Shorts jury commented, “It’s a film that starts out absurd and hilarious, but sucker punches you with the truth when least expected, making a complex issue feel immediate and universal.”
ABOUT INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF LOS ANGELES (IFFLA)
The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) brings to Los Angeles audiences the most innovative independent films coming out of India and the Indian diaspora, in a vibrant program comprising features and shorts, including narrative, documentary and animated works.
In addition to film screenings, the festival offers stimulating discussions between filmmakers and audiences, as well as panel conversations and industry sessions. IFFLA also hosts original special programs, such as retrospectives, spotlights and masterclasses, and lively networking and social events, all aimed at fostering a greater appreciation of Indian cinema and culture and promoting the diverse perspectives of the Indian and larger South Asian diaspora.
IFFLA was founded in 2002 as a non-profit organization with the aim to offer the Los Angeles community a unique opportunity to learn about India’s multifaceted culture and long history of filmmaking. Since then, IFFLA has grown into the premiere US venue for discovering the best of Indian cinema, as well as a vital hub which fosters an important dialogue among the most original independent storytellers from India and its diaspora, the greater South Asian diasporic community and the international film industry at large.