Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

#LIFF2014: Filmmaker Sangeeta Datta previews the London Indian Film Festival

The London Indian Film Festival flagged off its fifth edition Thursday July 10 at Cineworld Haymarket.

Already considered the largest Indian film festival in Europe, LIFF champions the cause of good independent cinema. Over the years the festival has showcased a series of hot indies that the London audience would not have had access to.

The festival has followed the growing trend of anti- formulaic Bollywood and a diverse range of subjects, budgets and style that is now a signature of new sub-continent cinema.

Festival Director Cary Sawhney, with years of curatorial experience (from Bite the Mango in Bradford to London Film Festival) is passionate about his work and together with Naman Ramchandran carefully handpicks a slate of quality films in the subcontinent and in other parts of the world.

This year the Festival has an extended profile with its first American partnership with the opening film 'Sold' (director Jeffrey D Brown) and the Disney centrepiece 'Million Dollar Arm' (director Craig Gillespie).

Adapted from the award winning novel by Patricia McCormik, 'Sold' deals with the serious issue of child trafficking in Nepal.

A young girl, Lakshmi, is sold off by her father to an agent who smuggles her into a brothel in Kolkata. Lakshmi loses her innocence but not hope and after learning to survive in a potentially hostile surrounding , she finally escapes to freedom.

Supported by Childreach International, the film is much more than a feature as it raises awareness about a social problem of monstrous proportions.

Seven years in the making, this is clearly a film with a heart, featuring the glamorous Gillian Anderson and powerhouse performances by child actor Niyar Saikia, Tilottoma Shome, Sushmita Mukherjee and Seema Biswas.

The week-long programme showcases the best of indie cinema including the European premiere of British-Pakistani 'Anima State' (dir. Hammad Khan) and the World premier of 'Shongram' about the Bangladesh liberation struggle (dir. Munsur Ali).

Other favourites touted are James E. Duff’s 'Hank and Asha', about young romance in an online world, and Rakshit Shetty’s 'Ulidavaru Kandante'.

Kaushik Ganguly’s charming Satyajit Ray tribute 'Apur Panchali' and Anup Singh’s multi award winner 'Qissa: Tale of a Lonely Ghost' play out this week end at BFI and Cineworld Haymarket.

The closing film Hemalkasa (directed by Samriddhi Porey) is an inspirational biopic about Dr. Prakash Amte and his wife’s selfless dedication to develop tribal life in Maharashtra. Actor Nana Patekar will represent the film.

Two other events have generated great buzz in the industry: India’s foremost cinematographer Santosh Sivan’s masterclass taking place at BFI on Friday July 11, and internationally acclaimed actor-director Farhan Akhtar’s screen talk on July 16.

So spins a week of fantastic films which entertain, educate, shock and inspire. On a personal note, I am looking forward to the much awaited animation delight the 'World of Goopy and Bagha' (a childhood favourite and immortalised by Satyajit Ray) and the short films in the annual competition run by the Satyajit Ray Foundation.



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