Europe’s biggest South Asian film festival heads into its thirteenth year this week with an eclectic line up of films and talks exploring the Indian subcontinent and the global diaspora. The brainchild of Cary Rajinder Sawhney MBE, a diversity and LGBTQ+ champion, the fest traverses all genres and caters for all tastes. The filmmakers and actors who swing by for its talks and premieres are a pretty diverse bunch, too: Farhan Akhtar, Asif Kapadia, Gillian Anderson, Radhika Apte and Richa Chadha have walked the red carpet in the past. Here’s what to look out for at the BFI Southbank and other UK-wide venues as it gets underway this week.
This year’s opening gala is maverick director Anurag Kashyap’s ode to Back To The Future, solving a mystery through time travel. The world premiere is complete with a glitzy red carpet, set to be walked by Bollywood star Taapsee Pannu. She’s the lead in a whodunnit with an intriguing sci-fi twist.
2. Aparna Sen in conversation + the UK premiere of The Rapist
A child actress who started her journey with the great Satyajit Ray, and now a top filmmaker in her own right, Aparna Sen gives a rare talk ahead of her new film, The Rapist. A powerful look at sexual assault, it features a powerhouse performance from Aparna’s own daughter, Konkona Sen Sharma as an academic whose world falls apart after a brutal incident.
3. Nandita Das masterclass
Acting legend Nandita Das will be sitting down to share some wisdom accrued over her 33-year career at Ciné Lumière. Having acted in over 40 films helmed by Indian auteurs like Deepa Mehta, Mani Ratnam and Adoor Gopalakrishnan, she also made waves with her own directorial efforts, Firaaq (2008) and Manto (2018).
4. The Last Film Show (Chhello Show)
This glorious slice of nostalgia offers nods to Cinema Paradiso in its telling of director Pan Nalin’s own boyhood. Adventurous nine-year-old Samay (Bhavin Rabari) discovers the magic of cinema and the big screen, finding his purpose and inventive ways to share it with his community and make it his life’s work.
5. Too Desi Too Queer
This popular night partners with G.I.N. (Gay Indian Network) and the Club Kali queer community to showcase carefully curated short films to crowds who share a passion for LGBTQ+ stories. Expect the unexpected, and a delve into the creativity of underrepresented voices who are climbing out of oppression and shining their talents on the world.
The Blue Orchid Hotels London Indian Film Festival runs Jun 23-Jul 3. For more information and to book tickets, head to the official website.