The London Asian Film Festival kicked off on the 1st of June this year, opening to a summer of exoticness spent in the grand atmosphere of the Tricycle Theatre. Funded by the British Film Institute (BFI), the festival is all about South Asian films exclusively, and for 2014 it runs up until the 14th of June.
Making its debut in 1999 to critical acclaim, the films featured tend to be of all kinds, from offbeat cinema to international box office hits, as long as they remember to address what makes up the politics and social arc in the Indian subcontinent. Challenging as the notion is, there have been many films that weren’t afraid to break the mould and go further, and this is how they ended up right here in the British capital for the festival.
Over the years, the festival has been home to many successful filmmakers and stars from the South Asian film industry, such as Kirron Kher alongside legendary British film maker Gurinder Chadha. For 2014, the film festival did something different and opened with a social message on child trafficking in India, explored through cinematography. The Film ‘Lakshmi’ directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, as well as talks with the director afterwards received guests at the Tricycle Theatre.
There’s been a number of film premieres in the United Kingdom for the festival, and the 10 day extraordinary showcases more than a dozen spattering of films in Central London, to industry professionals, the media, and South Asians working in film across the world. In the past, the London festival had also promoted women working in Indian cinema, and the significant achievements they’ve made in an industry dominated by men for decades, as well as the rising power of Bengali cinema.
The programme this year, counts a special talk show about Bollywood filmmaker, Yash Chopra: regarded as the most popular filmmaker for the last half of the century in Indian cinema, his works on romanticism, Indian fairytales, and tales of human emotions and expectations are considered to be the gold standard for what India has to showcase to the world in terms of entertainment value. A documentary film ‘The Master Stroke’ brings all of this to life on screen at the Tricycle Theatre.
Supported by the Arts Council England, emerging filmmakers also showcased a range of films with topical issues such as the middle-class urban scene in India in ‘Alone Together’ by Phil Poppy, and complexity of belonging for the British Indian heritage, the Kashmiri Indian heritage, specifically speaking, in the moorish countryside of the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales, in ‘The Ground Beneath our Feet’ by Ashish Ghadiali.
The festival counts the Nehru Centre, SOAS and the Harrow Arts Centre as patrons, and is sponsored by Tongues on Fire, a not-for-profit organisation promoting films from South Asia in the United Kingdom. The London Asian Film Festival hosts its very own awards show too, alongside interviews, eclectic and thought-provoking cinema.
It is a celebration of everything that is magical about cinema, stories captured on films that explores the various perspectives and emotions of human beings through the characters they represent. But more specifically, the films showcased, this year, capture everything that makes the South Asian film industry as the emerging powerhouse of talent that it is today and the very individualistic niche it has crafted out for itself in filmmaking.