Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Exclusive Coverage of the 12th Indian Film Festival of LA

Indian Cinema In The Heart Of Hollywood
By UMA DA CUNHA
Tue Apr 15, 2014

Shivangi Ranawat at IFFLA where her film Alchemy
won the Best Short Film award
LOS ANGELES: The 12th Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) attracted record participation of films, film-makers and audiences over six tumultuous days, April 8 to 13. Specially notable was the array of fine first-time filmmakers who attended.

What is specially attractive about IFFLA, apart from its great geographic location, is the venue itself. The best of recent Indian films are screened at Arclight Hollywood, which has the crystal clear sound and projection that directors dream about.

As Indian advisor on IFFLA programming, I had seen all but one of the features finally selected. But seeing them again under Arclight’s ideal conditions was like discovering them afresh, with eye and ear relishing each nuance. An added pleasure is the ambience, the theatre’s spacious courtyard offering space and seating for groups to gather at leisure. There is an IFFLA bonus to boot – a first-floor Lounge made Indian in character for delegates and friends.

This year, IFFLA’s package of 35 films featured ten languages. Russian is one, in the 12-minute “Love, Love, Love” directed by Sandhya Daisy Sunderam. It tells of the forces of love lived through many Russian summers.
This year, the selection offered a majority of first-time filmmakers. Among them were many internationally known and acclaimed.

The opening American film Sold is the debut feature of Jeffrey D Brown. Based on Patricia McCormick’s book, the film is a vivid portrayal of a spirited 12-year-old girl from Nepal lured to Kolkata with a job offer then inducted brutally into prostitution. The film’s executive producer is Emma Thompson. Actress Gillian Anderson (of X Files fame) plays a key role. Both celebrities are actively involved in social causes specially those connected with child abuse. Niyar Saikia from Assam excels in the lead role. Jeffrey Brown is eager to use his film to raise large-scale funding in the fight against child trafficking. He also wants to implement medical and yogic procedures in India that are geared to treating the trauma of rape survivors.

Other first timers were Nagraj Manjule (Fandry, in Marathi), Indranil Chowdhury (Phoring, in Bengali), Amit Kumar (Monsoon Shootout, in Hindi), Amit V Masurkar (Sulemani Keeda, in Hindi), Geetu Mohandas (Liar’s Dice, in Hindi) and two from the US, James E. Duff (Hank and Asha) and Mahesh Pailur’s Brahmin Bulls (English, starring Roshan Seth).

There were quite a few second features: from Canada, Richie Mehta’s Siddharth and Anup Singh’s Qissa (in Punjabi). The package included Ankhon Dekhi, actor-director’s Rajat Kapoor’s fourth feature film.

The programme contained a fine collection of shorts and documentaries. A highlight was Shivangi Ranawat’s animated films, the Little Gypsy (6 minutes) and Alchemy (5 minutes). The first is a graduation diploma film from DSK Supinfocum, an animation film school established in 2008 as a joint venture between the DSK Group, India and Supinfocom Group, France. The academics are controlled by the French institute to match international standards and its teachers are recruited from various parts of Europe and Asia.

Little Gypsy is a stunning visual kaleidoscope inspired by various Indian folk songs. The film depicts a mythical journey that celebrates the power game between various forces. Ranawat’s Alchemy is the first film of a newly formed collective, Ekabhuya, of which she is the founder-director. The film is a music video on modern-day India.

Another first that drew as much laughter as applause from the audience was the 85-minute documentary The Auction House: A Tale of Two Brothers by British director Ed Owles. The film is on the family-owned auction house, Russell Exchange, in Kolkata. It was run for 40 years by the younger brother Arshad. Suddenly, his elder more assertive brother Anwar decides to return from a top job in the UK to bring some elan and style to the messy, run-down, old-fashioned appearance and method of operation at Russell Exchange. While the film observes the two brothers locking horns over every issue, its backdrop provides a wry yet endearing look at those who inhabit the world of Russell Exchange and the bustling streets that lead to it from many corners of Kolkata.
 
Courtesy: http://thecitizen.in/ - India's first independent on-line daily which was launched on January 27, 2014.reproducing Uma da Cunha's column
 

 

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