Indian Film Festival, LA celebrates 10th year anniversary


IFFLA plans an ambitious slate to celebrate it’s 10th Anniversary edition, 33 international features, documentaries, and short films will be screened from filmmakers from Canada, Italy, India, Germany, South Africa, UK, and the U.S. Among the offerings are three world premieres, nine U.S. premieres and twelve Los Angeles premieres.

Christina Marouda, IFFLA’s founder stated “We look back on our first decade with a sense of exhilaration and pride. From the very beginning, our mission was to establish a film festival that would not only pave the way for a greater appreciation of Indian cinema and culture in the U.S., but also serve as the portal between the two largest entertainment industries in the world– the U.S. and India. Today, IFFLA stands as the barometer of Indian cinema worldwide and has become the gateway to India in Hollywood.”

Marouda fell in love with Indian films as a teenager in Greece. When she launched IFFLA in 2003 it was the only film festival in North America dedicated to Indian cinema. She focused on exposing non Bollywood films to the American audience, since Bollywood films already had a toehold in the market.

Other festivals followed in her footsteps. The 12th annual New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) was founded in 2000. Indian Visions FilmFest DC  was founded in 2007 and the Indian Film Festival Houston (IFFH) was founded in 2008, but IFFLA is the still the premiere festival of its kind.

IFFLA’s mission to develop emerging talent has born fruit. IFFLA’s first Film Fund Grant winner Kranti Kanade has completed shooting “Gandhi of the Month.” The film, which stars Harvey Keitel, is based on Kanade’s prize winning script “Against Itself.” Produced by Sanjay Singh Films, it is due for release in India later this year. Many directors who premiered their shorts at IFFLA are now represented by top Hollywood agencies and making films with US studios.

Marouda explains “It’s more like a festival/film commission/agency.We are really the platform that is trying to bridge that gap” between Indian and American filmmakers. IFFLA helped director Prashant Bhargava find financiers for his feature and are involved in marketing the upcoming self-distributed release of “Patang”, this year’s closing Gala film.

“There is a new, emerging core of Indian filmmakers that are young and hip and willing to take risks,” said shorts programmer Terrie Samundra. “They are films that are willing to make you uncomfortable, critique tradition, taking apart old structures and political alliances — we see that with [films about]sexuality, relationships, politics, identity.” Two Shorts Programs are featured.

Opening night features the world premiere of Bedabrata Pain’s drama “Chittagong” and stars award-winning actor Manoj Bajpayee (“Pinjar”). Pain ( a NASA scientist-turned-filmmaker) hoped to bring world attention to a little known historical incident set against the backdrop of 1930’s British-occupied Chittagong on the brink of a youth led revolution. The coming of ager shows a group of untrained teens, led by their school teacher, who strike out and defeat the British. 14-year-old Jhunka comes of age during their opening salvo in India’s fight for independence.

Closing night’s festivities feature a screening of director Prashant Bhargava’s richly woven award-winning drama “Patang”. “Patang” tells the story of Delhi businessman Jayesh and his daughter as they journey back to his childhood home in Ahmedabad for a family reunion during India’s largest kite festival. Under the kaleidoscope of colorful kite-filled skies, a Pandora’s box of family drama and past conflict is exposed. “Patang”” has become a festival favorite playing to sold-out audiences worldwide and is making its Los Angeles premiere at IFFLA. Bhargava’s short “Sangam” screened at IFFLA in 2004. The Closing Night Gala, sponsored by = Chakra Cuisine will feature music by DJ Rohan Dosaj, cofounder of Build From Scratch Music. In honor of the 10th Anniversary, Chivas Regal will debut a signature IFFLA cocktail, as well as a roaming Chivas cart offering samples and specials all night.

Among the eight feature films screening will be India’s 2011 official submission in the Oscar™ foreign language category, Salim Ahmed’s poetic drama “Abu, Son Of Adam.” (Adaminte Makan Abu). US premieres include Rajan Khosa’s critically acclaimed “Gattu” which won a special mention this year at the 62nd Berlinale for capturing the ironies, the complexities and the vitality of India, and Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni’s inspirational satire “The Temple” (Deool)

IFFLA 2012 highlights emerging Indian directors as well as showing a retrospective of three of the festivals most popular films of the last ten years: “Black Friday”( Jury Award  Best Narrative Feature 2005), “Udaan” (Jury Award Best Narrative Feature 2011) and the balls out cult comedy classic “Loins Of Punjab Presents” ( Audience Choice Award Best Feature 2008).

The ever popular BOLLYWOOD BY NIGHT sidebar includes the highly anticipated “Agent Vinod” directed by Sriram Raghavan and starring Bollywood superstars Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor and Abhinay Deo’s “Delhi Belly” produced by acclaimed Indian actor/director/producer Aamir Khan.

Beginning April 13th through April 14th, Rhythm Village moves back to its traditional home at the Arclight Hollywood Courtyard. The outdoor musical program entertains with world class musicians, singer songwriters, eclectic fusion bands, groovy DJ sets, and a variety of captivating dance forms. The IFFLA Rhythm Village Unplugged event, an intimate after hours acoustic session reveals the deeper side of the artists’ journeys through music. Tip: grab a drink and get cozy in the IFFLA Rhythm Village Lounge.

FAMILY DAY – SATURDAY, APRIL 14, 12:00 PM ArcLight Courtyard
IFFLA’s Family Day hosts a day of activities and films curated with the pint-sized film fan in mind. Films, an arts and crafts workshop, a Story hour and a Bollywood Dance Lesson and showcase performance should fascinate kids of all age.

Rajan Khosa’s “Gattu”, which won a special mention at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival, has been an international festival favorite.\
Gattu, a fierce and precocious little street urchin, takes matters into his own hands when one day he’s had enough of the ridicule and day-to-day toil of his life. Tickets: $14/adults, $10 (12 years and under)

1:30pm – 2:15pm STORY TIME
All are welcome at a SAG actor-led reading of “The Very Hungry Lion”, a beautifully illustrated award-winning children’s folktale based on an ancient East Indian fable.
2:15pm – 3:15pm ARTS & CRAFTS
Movers and shakers in LA’s art scene stop by to lead a mixed media arts and crafts project with an Indian theme. Contribute to our mural or create a special take-home piece. All materials provided.
Calling all future Hindi heroes and heroines! An exclusive Bollywood dance class designed just for your pint-sized star! Learn simple moves and then have the opportunity to show them off in a debut performance at IFFLA. Explore the movement and creativity within this unique, fun, and easy-to-learn form of dance. Courtesy of IFFLA’s Rhythm Village.

On Sunday April 15 (12:00 PM) IFFLA features another family pleasing film:
Set in the present day deserts of barren Rajasthan, Mangesh Hadawale’s critically acclaimed comic feature “Watch Indian Circus” follows a traditional rural family struggling to educate their two children. In the backdrop of the State elections, a Circus has come to a nearby town, Panni and Ghumroo’s only escapade to a fantasy world without any heartbreak.The film premiered at 16th Busan Film Festival in the New Currents section and won the Audience Choice Award.

The IFFLA Industry Leadership Awards 2012 will honor three individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership within and in relation to the Indian entertainment community:Kishore Lulla, Michelle Satter and Alesia Weston.

Kishore Lulla, Group Executive Chairman of Eros International created, with his family) the Eros Foundation to aid in children’s education in the poorest regions throughout India.

Michelle Satter, the founding director of the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program established the Institute’s international initiatives. Satter along with Alesia Weston, developed Sundance Institute’s multi-faceted collaboration with Mahindra including the Mumbai Mantra/Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab in India.

Alesia Weston leads the international work of Sundance Institute’s year-round Feature Film Program. Under her leadership, Sundance has worked to build infrastructure in other regions to support local filmmakers, including the RAWI Middle East Screenwriters Lab in Jordan and the Sundance Screenwriters Labs in Tel Aviv and Istanbul.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Ahmed Lateef will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. The Awards will be presented at a Gala Luncheon on Thursday, April 12, 2012, at the world famous House of Blues Los Angeles.

Vocalist/double violinist Gingger Shankar returning to IFFLA for the 10th Anniversary of the festival, will perform at the luncheon. Her multimedia project “Himalaya Song” was voted one on the 10 Best Music Films at Sundance by Rolling Stone. Shankar will perform songs from her new album ‘Beautiful Imperfections’ and music from her extensive soundtrack work (including “Passion of the Christ” and “Circumstance”)

Two seminars are offered:
From Script to Screen: THE MAKING OF PATANG – April 14
12:30 PM  “Sheer Love, Rebellion and A Million Kites”
The creatives behind IFFLA’s closing night film “Patang” will discuss the process of making and releasing this resilient film. Actress Seema Biswas (“Midnight’s Children”, “Water”, “Bandit Queen”), screenwriter James Townsend (“Undisputed II”, “Wonderland”), composer Mario Grigorov (“Precious”, “Taxi to the Dark Side”), and screenwriter, director and editor Prashant Bhargava (“Sangam” – IFFLA 2004), discuss in depth their craft and collaboration.

Sunday, April 15, 11:30 AM The seminar “Aiming High: The Personal Journeys of Three Indian-American Industry Leaders” will include Bela Bajaria the Executive Vice President of Universal Television. Bajaria oversees creative programming for the television studio responsible for such hit series as “30 Rock,” “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” “House,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Parenthood.”

Independent producer Sunil Perkash credits include Disney’s smash hit “Enchanted” (executive producer), which grossed $340 million worldwide and “Premonition”
(producer) for Tri-Star Pictures. He most recently produced the blockbuster “Salt” starring Angelina Jolie, which grossed $300 million worldwide. He is currently developing a sequel to “Salt” at Columbia Pictures, as well as “Timeless” at Relativity Media with Phillip Noyce set to direct and Liam Hemsworth to star.

Adi Shankar produced a string of studio-level, filmmaker-driven action movies including last year’s acclaimed “Machine Gun Preacher” and “The Grey”, which opened at number one at the US box office this past January. Shankar’s upcoming releases include the Judge Dredd reboot, ‘Dredd” and Andrew Dominik’s “Cogan’s Trade”, starring Brad Pitt. Shankar’s 2013 releases include the “Broken City” starring Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe; the Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger action pic “The Tomb”, and Steven Soderbergh’s “Bitter Pill”. Shankar is a co-owner (with Steven Schneider (“Paranormal Activity” 1, 2, & 3) of Room 101, a dark genre label specializing in micro budget features and television.

During his senior year at Harvard, Rupak Ginn was hired by Mira Nair for a supporting role in “The Namesake”. His film work includes supporting roles in “Friends With Benefits” and “Just Wright”. He currently plays the role of Raj on the USA Network hit series “Royal Pains.”

The No Tomatoes food truck will be on hand for the entire 2012 festival, serving kathi rolls, chapli burgers, lamb seekh dogs, biryani rice, chicken tikka masala, paratha bread, garam chai (hot tea) and mango lassi and an daily special. Catch the No Tomatoes truck parked conveniently right outside the Cinerama Dome at ArcLight Hollwyood on Sunset Blvd. Truck Schedule: April 11-13: 6PM-10PM, April 14: 1PM-10PM, and April 15: 12PM-4PM

To buy tickets for the Party or check the Rhythm Village schedule go to the website. IFFLA runs April 10-15 at ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles IFFLA’s permanent home. Festival and All Access passes, as well as individual tickets may be purchased via the festival


About Author

Robin Menken

Robin Menken Robin Menken lives in Los Angeles. She was the Artistic Director of the Second City Workshops, taught at UC Berkeley, USC, Barcelona\'s Ateneu and the Esalin Institute. She was Roberto Rossellini\'s assistant, and worked with Yevgeny Vevteshenku, Glauber Rocha and Eugene Ionesco. She sold numerous screenplays and wrote the OBIE winning The FTA SHow (touring with Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Ben Vereen.) She was a programming consultant and Special Events co-ordinator for numerous film festivals, including the SF, Rio, Havana and N.Y Film Festivals. Her first news outlet was the historic East Village Other.

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