Shabana Azmi-13

UK Asian Film Festival Leicester 2019

Shabana Azmi-13

Wed 3 April – Sat 6 April 2019
Phoenix Cinema, Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG

The world’s longest running South Asian Film Festival outside India celebrates 21 years with ‘Revolution’ theme and brings Indian cinema legends to Phoenix Cinema Leicester.

At a time of significant change, the world’s longest running South Asian film festival outside India marks its 21st anniversary with a curation inspired by the theme of Revolution.

UK Asian Film Festival is synonymous with championing South Asian feminist films and supporting pioneering artists and auteurs. It will run in Leicester from Wednesday 3 to Saturday 6 April 2019, supported by the BFI with National Lottery funding. Honouring ‘Revolution’ through the vehicle of South Asian Cinema, UK Asian Film Festival looks at the #MeToo movement gathering momentum in the Indian and Pakistani film industries and the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the repeal of Section 377 in India last year. UK Asian Film Festival will host revolutionary legends from Indian cinema and present premieres of milestone films that signify society-led change.

Veteran Indian filmmaker Ramesh Sippy is among the coveted line-up of guests attending UK Asian Film Festival 2019, the world’s longest running South Asian film festival outside of India. On Thursday 4 April at Phoenix Cinema, Leicester, he will be discussing his cinematic journey at an In Conversation with Ramesh Sippy. Ramesh Sippy’s film credits include one of Indian cinema’s most iconic films of all time, Sholay (1975), the blockbuster multi-starrer that reinterpreted the spaghetti western genre within the structure of Indian cinema, ranked first in the BFI’s 2002 poll of the Top Ten Indian Films of all time. Winner of India’s civilian honour, the Padma Shri, Sippy’s other directing credits include timeless classics of Indian cinema such as Andaz (1971); Seeta Aur Geeta (1972); Shaan (1980); and Saagar (1985) among others.

Veteran actress, Shabana Azmi, will also be conducting an In Conversation about her career in cinema on Saturday 6th April, Phoenix Cinema, Leicester. One of the most versatile actresses in Indian cinema, having mastered both commercial and arthouse genres, the internationally lauded actress believes art should be instrumental in leading social change. Her entry into films marked the way for the Parallel Cinema Movement with Shyam Benegal’s Ankur in 1974. She has won five National Awards for Best Actress and five International Awards for Best Actress. Azmi is also highly respected as a social activist and tireless campaigner for the rights of women, slum dwellers and the underprivileged. A former UN Goodwill Ambassador for Population and Development, she was recently nominated as a Global Leadership Ambassador for The Women in Public Service Project initiated by Hillary Clinton.

Creative Director Samir Bhamra adds, “UKAFF has always been revolutionary. When it started 21 years ago, it was the only Asian women’s festival in the world platforming female talent across all media. As a tribute to our pioneering start, the BFI has awarded funds from the National Lottery to also enable the UK Asian Film Festival to establish a Young Curators Lab to nurture a new generation of cinema audiences to appreciate and distinguish independent, South Asian films from all over the world. In short, we are handing control of a key gala screening to young people!” Young Curators aged between the ages of 18 and 25 have been given the opportunity to learn curatorial skills for diverse films addressing vital societal challenges and celebrations. Young Curators have viewed a selection of new features to select the opening gala of the Leicester edition.

Noblemen (2019, Dir. Vandana Kataria) sees the loss of a 15-year-old boy’s innocence as he prepares to star in a production of William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice when he rebels against a gang of bullies in a posh boarding school.

The Closing Film on Saturday 6th April, will be the UK Premiere of Pinky Memsaab (2018, Dir. Shazia Ali Khan). Emblematic of new age Pakistani cinema for a world audience and reflecting the industry’s nascent revival, Pinky Memsaab is a drama that depicts different perspectives of the NRI experience in Dubai. The lives of a gullible maid; a beautiful socialite; an ambitious investment banker; and a happy go lucky chauffeur are entwined together in Dubai in this bittersweet take on self-discovery.

Roopa Barua’s documentary Daughters of the Polo God focuses on young women charging forward to play the traditional male dominated game of polo despite adversity and political turmoil in the Indian state of Manipur. The maidens are intensely connected to saving their sacred Manipuri pony and to playing an international tournament every year.

Continuing the Revolution theme, UK Premiere of Hamid (2018, Dir. Aijaz Khan) sees an eight year-old Hamid learning that 786 is God’s number and deciding to try to reach out to God by dialling this number. He wants to talk to his father, who his mother tells him has gone to Allah. Using his father’s old mobile phone he tries different combinations to speak to God. One day the phone call is answered by Abhay, a hard-knuckled soldier and two lives shattered in the strife of Kashmir find a way to be complete again.

Bengali film Chegu (2018, Dir. Nabamita) tells the story of a young boy from the lower middle class that will fight his own battles by taking inspiration from Marxist revolutionary, Che Guevara. The film addresses multiple social issues through the eyes of the teenager, the ideals of Guevara forming a key part of the narrative.

Marking the decriminalisation of homosexuality in India, Evening Shadows (2018, Dir. Sridhar Rangayan) is set in a small town in Southern India entrenched in conservatism. When a young, gay man, Kartik, comes out to his mother, her entire world comes crashing down. She has no one to turn to dispel her fears and doubts. Moreover, as a woman trapped within a patriarchal society, her biggest challenge is to deal with her dogmatic husband Damodar and the community around her.

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