We were delighted to be title sponsors of the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival (LIFF), for the fourth year running. A sensational season of South Asian cinema took place in 11 cinemas in the capital this year from 21 – 29 June 2018!
We were thrilled to place a spotlight on South Asian culture through engaging and audacious films which explored universal and topical subject matters such as identity, women’s empowerment, and construction of masculinity. This year’s tightly curated programme put an emphasis on the female directorial eye, father and son relationships, and explored the extraordinary in everyday lives from the Indian subcontinent. Coinciding with Pride month, we were proud to also support LGBTQ+ films this year, including the festival’s finale, the wonderful transgender comedy Venus, directed by Eisha Marjara, a funny, feel-good touching and inspiring story of identity, acceptance and love in all its guises.
This year’s awards, just as the programme, celebrated both established artists and emerging creative voices. LIFFs annual Audience Award for Best Film went to British comedy Eaten By Lions, directed by Jason Wingard. The film, which formed part of the Festival’s Fathers & Sons thematic strand, followed Bradford teenager Omar and his half-brother search for his real Asian dad on the streets of Blackpool.
The director Jason Wingard stated: “We’re delighted to win this fantastic award. Eaten By Lions is a modern relevant comedy dealing with contemporary issues such as diversity and disability, but ultimately captures that life is about relationships and people, and we’re so pleased audiences are connecting with it. It was fantastic to work with some of Britain’s best loved comedians, who all bought emotional heart and humour to the story.”
Sunmark Ltd Pure Heaven ICON Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Indian and World Cinema went to two stalwarts of Indian film, both Bollywood and parallel, Irrfan Khan (Slumdog Millionaire, The Lunchbox and Life of Pi) and Manoj Bajpayee (Aligarh). Audiences could enjoy two fantastic films by each icon during this year’s festival – with Khan starring in both Mostafa Sarwar Farooki’s Doob: No Bed of Roses, and Anup Singh’s Song of Scorpions and Manoj in Dipesh Jain’s gripping Gali Guliyan (In the Shadows) and the powerful opening night film Love Sonia by Tabrez Noorani. The harrowing story of Love Sonia addressed human trafficking with a directorial emphasis on authenticity.
Two more stars of Love Sonia were heralded with awards during the festival – actors Richa Chada, who played Madhuri in the film, won the Sunmark Ltd Pure Heaven Outstanding Achievement Award and Mrunal Thakur, won the Sunmark Ltd Pure Heaven Best Newcomer Award, for her incredibly moving and captivating performance as the title role.
On receiving the Best Newcomer award Mrunal Thakur stated: “I always wanted to do a film that would touch the audience and Love Sonia it is! This journey is beautiful and bittersweet, as an actor, to get to witness and highlight the harsh realities of life through cinema. I am on cloud nine to receive this award.”
The annual Satyajit Ray Short Film Award of £1,000, presented in association with the Bagri Foundation, went to the Indo-German co-production Moongfali Wala (The Peanut Seller) by Etienne Sievers. This beautifully crafted film is a story of an orphaned young ragpicker battling isolation and poverty in the streets of New Delhi.
Etienne Sievers, who grew up in India, says: “I’m incredibly grateful to receive this much coveted award. It’s a huge encouragement to continue to make films that address important social issues in an authentic, aesthetic and engaging way. Many thanks to the LIFF for honouring my film and enabling it to travel even further.”
Quotes courtesy of the London Indian Film Festival.