The acclaimed Birmingham Indian Film Festival (BIFF) has announced its festival programme including the world premiere of Dobaaraa directed by Anurag Kashyap and starring award winning actress Taapsee Pannu.
The highly anticipated thriller is produced by Shobha Kapoor & Ektaa R Kapoor (Cult Movies, a new wing under Balaji Telefilms) and Sunir Kheterpal & Gaurav Bose (Athena).
The opening night red carpet screening at MAC Birmingham will be attended by Anurag Kashyap followed by a Q&A.
Supported by title sponsor Blue Orchid Hotels, Integrity International, the BFI (awarding National Lottery funding), Arts Council England and Birmingham City University, this year’s BIFF runs from 24 June – 5 July, screening at MAC Birmingham and new cinema partners Electric Birmingham, the oldest working cinema in the country, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the city’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. The Birmingham Indian Film Festival is part of London Indian Film Festival and Manchester Indian Film Festival and together it is the UK and Europe’s largest platform of South Asian (Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Sri Lankan) independent films.
Festival Director Cary Rajinder Sawhney MBE says: “It’s wonderful to have director Anurag Kashyap return to the Festival with supernatural thriller Dobaaraa following his visit to the city in 2019.
“We have UK premiered a number of Anurag’s films over the last 12 years - including That Girl in Yellow Boots and Gangs of Wasseypur. Anurag delivers yet another fresh directorial approach and a compelling twisted story and Actor Taapsee Pannu steals the show as a young woman trapped between two lives in different decades. We are delighted at the exceptionally strong cavalcade of exciting new Midland premieres at this year’s festival in ten different languages and some very rare in person talks and Q&As headlined by India’s greatest woman filmmaker Aparna Sen.”
Ektaa R Kapoor shared: "Dobaaraa receiving its Midlands premiere right ahead of its theatrical release is a testament of its new-age, cutting edge narrative being wholly loved and applauded all over the world.
“Dobaaraa is our first film under Cult Movies, our new film-division which is set to tell compelling, edgy, and genre-bending stories. I feel ecstatic for Dobaaraa and its presence amidst various international celebrated films from around the globe and I can’t wait to showcase the film to Indian audiences on 1st July, 2022.”
Female filmmakers are at the forefront of this year’s festival including the European premiere of THE RAPIST starring Konkana Sen Sharma and Arjun Rampal.
A special In Conversation will take place on Monday 4th July with its director Aparna Sen, India’s most prolific female filmmaker at the prestigious Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Her daughter, acclaimed actress, Konkona Sen Sharma will also be attending.
Rebana Liz John’s documentary Ladies Only explores feminist themes through observing the female only compartments of Mumbai’s hectic trains.
Among other Midland premieres are Pan Nalin’s uplifting homage to celluloid Chhello Show and Anik Dutta’s Aparajito – a tribute to legendary director Satyajit Ray’s journey of making his first film, the cult classic ‘Pather Panchali’. An intimate look at modern day Calcutta, Once Upon A Time In Calcutta by Aditya Vikram Sengupta also features in the festival line-up.
Under the festival’s ‘Save the Planet’ strand, ecological and climate themes are explored in No Ground Beneath My Feet. The ‘Young Rebels’ strand includes The Very Fishy Trip and Girls For Future.
Ahead of the Commonwealth Games the Festival will be screening Taangh with cinematography by Yugesh Walia, a Birmingham film maker who trained at the then Birmingham School of Photography. It tells the story of a daughter who embarks on a journey to find the champion her father was when he won the hockey gold for India at the 1948 London Olympics.
Cultures collide in selections from the diaspora including British Indian comedy Little English, and the Pakistani American film Americanish from the US. Archival screenings include classic 1990s music documentary Asian Vibes London & Mumbai featuring artists from the Midlands.
Additional shorts categories include hit LGBTQIA+ programme Too Desi Too Queer, new British Asian emerging filmmakers and shorts competing in the festival’s annual Satayjit Ray Short Film Competition. The New British Asian Shorts programme features Catch A Butcher made by Cassiah Joski-Jethi based in Birmingham, who was part of the Festival’s British Asian Shorts panel last year
As part of the LGBTQIA+ programme Choreographer Ash Mukherjee, traces the queer experience as seen through the eyes of a first-generation Indian immigrant. Vishnu’s Got My Back, originally commissioned by SHOUT Festival in partnership with Sampad in 2021, is a live performance, part stand-up, part dance with original poetry, songs, and anecdotal stories, reliving the coming of age of a femme non-binary person in post-colonial Kolkata, and then as a queer immigrant person of colour in the UK.
A special Industry Event will take place at MAC Birmingham connecting new film makers with skilled people from the film industry with a focus on digital storytelling. Canadian Indian documentary Superfan: The Nav Bhatia Story, an uplifting tale on basketball team the Toronto Raptors greatest fan, closes the festival.
Commenting on the Festival, Katie Markwick Cinema Manager, from new cinema partner the Electric Birmingham said: “We are very excited to be a part of the Birmingham Indian Film Festival. It is the first time the Electric has been a cinema partner for a festival dedicated to supporting independent Indian cinema.
“Based in the heart of the city for over a century, we thrive on working with local communities and look forward to welcoming audiences for this important event in the Indian and South Asian calendar. It’s a super programme and it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to bring it to as many people as possible.”
Professor Rajinder Dudrah, Professor of Cultural Studies and Creative Industries, Birmingham City University commented: "It's exciting to see the varied programme for BIFF this year. Birmingham City University enjoys partnering with the festival that brings diverse stories to a wider audience in the city and beyond.
“Cinema and its primary products - film - are a key sector of the creative industries and in hosting the festival in Birmingham, BIFF is also supporting and helping to develop local and global creative industries in South Asia and the city region. BCU as a champion of the creative industries is a proud supporter of the festival."
The Festival has announced a new title sponsor - the Blue Orchid Hotels. With its excellent locations, exceptional standards, and commitment to making a difference within communities, the partnership positively demonstrates the support of the arts by private business.
The company also pursues a number of charitable endeavours, including raising awareness of child trafficking and women’s rights which are complementary to themes and causes that the festival also platforms.
Title Sponsor Tony Matharu, Patron of the London Indian Film Festival, Chair of Blue Orchid Hotels and Integrity International Trust and Founder and Chairman of the Central London Alliance (C.I.C.) said: “As a long-term supporter and advocate of the festival, I am delighted to announce Blue Orchid Hotels as Title Sponsor.
“This year’s programme is packed with exciting, entertaining, and thought-provoking films, including films which align with Integrity International Trust’s concerns around human rights, particularly relating to children, minorities and women, and environmental issues -depicted in several of the festival’s powerful premieres. Welcoming people back to the big screen experience is an important part of restoring the arts and culture sector, of which Blue Orchid Hotels is a firm advocate, and the vibrant offering of urban areas; drawing people back to city centres.”
Birmingham Indian Film Festival opens on 24 June and runs until 5 July. All films have English subtitles.