The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) announced today its galas and 2018 lineup of narrative and documentary features as well as short films for its 16th annual festival.
“This year’s lineup is a testament to the rich variety of genre, style and skill that exists within the Indian filmmaking community. We’re enormously proud to present this collection of exciting, inspiring, and challenging stories that are sure to make for a thrilling festival experience,” said Mike Dougherty, IFFLA’s Director of Programming.
The festival will open with IN THE SHADOWS, starring Manoj Bajpayee in a tour de force performance as a reclusive shopkeeper who vows to rescue his young neighbour from abuse at the hands of his father. The film premiered at the Mumbai Film Festival and features an impressive Bollywood cast that also includes Ranvir Shorey, Neeraj Kabi, Shahana Goswami and introduces Om Singh as the young boy. The film’s award-winning Los Angeles-based director Dipesh Jain – making his feature debut – will be in attendance along with star Manoj Bajpayee.
Festival will close with the Los Angeles premiere of VILLAGE ROCKSTARS, one of the most lauded Indian films on the festival circuit in the past year. The film premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and is directed by emerging Indian filmmaker Rima Das. The film, written, shot, edited and directed by Das, is a touching coming of age story of a ten-year-old girl in a remote Assamese village who dreams of buying a guitar and starting her own rock band.
This year the festival will feature four world premieres, three North American premieres, two U.S. premieres, and 14 Los Angeles premieres. The lineup represents an impressive 12 languages and a strong list of first and second time filmmakers, including 11 female filmmakers.
The festival will also hold a memorial tribute to the late, beloved Bollywood actress Sridevi. IFFLA will screen a 2K print of Sridevi’s 1989 hit CHANDNI, courtesy of Yash Raj Films.
Highlights from the lineup include the U.S. Premiere of IFFLA alum Hansal Mehta’s 2017 Toronto Film Festival selection OMERTA, featuring rising Indian star Rajkummar Rao as notorious real-life terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh as well as THE ASHRAM, directed by Ben Rekhi and starring Sam Keeley, Melissa Leo, and Kal Penn. Rekhi brings together this star-studded cast for a story of mystical intrigue in the Himalayas. The film’s screening will be preceded by the world premiere of short film FIFTEEN YEARS LATER, directed by and starring Manish Dayal (THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY, VICEROY’S HOUSE, TV’s The Resident), and co-starring recent Golden Globe winner Rachel Brosnahan of THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL, Matt McGorry (HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK), and Tracy Mulholland (CRAZY STUPID LOVE).
Other films in the lineup include the 2017 Toronto Film Festival selection THE HUNGRY, starring Bollywood royalty Naseeruddin Shah and Tisca Chopra in a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus”; Devashish Makhija’s festival favorite AJJI, a revenge story centered on a woman seeking justice for her 10-year-old granddaughter after a brutal assault; Nila Madhab Panda’s eco-thriller DARK WIND; and a pair of Malayalam language features: Bash Mohammed’s delightful fish-out-of-water comedy PRAKASAN and TAKE OFF, featuring South Indian superstar Parvathy in the true story of courageous Indian nurses who travel to Iraq for work and find themselves thrust into a hostage negotiation with ISIS. Parvathy has received multiple accolades for the role, including Best Female Actor at the International Film Festival of India, the first time an Indian actor has been given this honor.
On the non-fiction side, Vaishali Sinha’s ASK THE SEXPERT, about 93-year-old sex advice columnist Dr. Mahinder Watsa, headlines a progressive group of documentaries that also includes Ann S. Kim and Priya Giri Desai’s LOVESICK, about Dr. Suniti Solomon’s matchmaking service for her HIV-positive patients, and UP DOWN AND SIDEWAYS, a stunning ethnographic portrait of an indigenous community and their remarkable musical traditions.
Several of the lineup’s talented filmmakers and actors will attend the festival, including Hansal Mehta (OMERTA), Bornila Chatterjee (THE HUNGRY), Vaishali Sinha (ASK THE SEXPERT), Nila Madhab Panda (DARK WIND), AJJI lead actress Sushama Deshpande, and many more.
Competing in the shorts program are 13 films including Sundance highlight COUNTERFEIT KUNKOO, directed by Reema Sengupta, the first Indian short to be featured in Park City in 15 years, and the world premiere of AN ESSAY OF THE RAIN, directed by IFFLA Grand Jury Prize winner Nagraj Manjule (FANDRY).