Through ProjectUS, US Blanks is proud to support groups like the Indian Film Festival, Los Angeles (IFFLA), who give back to the arts & humanities with their work. We asked the IFFLA hosts & team to answer a few questions about the upcoming festival (taking place April 5-9)…
Q: For those new to the IFFLA event, can you provide a brief overview of the founding and mission of the festival – what inspired it’s start and what does it hope to accomplish for indian filmmakers every year?
A: IFFLA founder Christina Marouda started the festival with a shoe-string budget and a handful of volunteers who shared her passionate belief that Indian films deserved greater exposure in Hollywood than it was getting back in 2002. Marouda fell in love with Indian films as a teenager in Greece, watching them with her sister who had many friends from India that would send her VHS tapes, many times without subtitles.
“I did some research and found that while there were very few – most times 1-2 – Indian films in international film festivals, there wasn’t a film festival devoted only to Indian cinema in the U.S.,” Marouda says.
The core mission of IFFLA was to establish a film festival that would not only pave the way for a greater appreciation of Indian cinema and culture in the U.S., but also serve as the portal between the two largest entertainment industries in the world — the U.S. and India.
Q: Many of the IFFLA films touch on important issues – can you shed a light on some of the important themes being shared through film in 2017?
A: (Director of Programming Mike Dougherty) The role of women in Indian society has been a theme that’s become increasingly prominent in our films throughout the years, and this year we’re pleased to have seven features directed by women, three shorts directed by women and even more films that place women at the center of their stories. LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA is of course the most prominent, with four female lead actresses who represent different age groups and life paths of women in India. THE GOLDEN WING tells the true story of an Assamese woman born to royalty who shunned tradition in order to bring music to the world. SEXY DURGA, which won the Grand Prize at this year’s Rotterdam Film Festival, takes a hard look at men’s treatment of women in India.
We are always proud to highlight LGBT stories, and we have a wonderful selection this year. The fascinating Kannada feature CHRONICLES OF HARI deals with questions of gender identity among a traditional, all-male theater troupe. The short film DEVI stars Priyanka Bose (of the Oscar-nominated film LION) in a thought-provoking story about class and sexuality. We’re also thrilled to present a screening of Nisha Ganatra’s 1999 film CHUTNEY POPCORN, with Nisha in attendance to discuss her career.
There’s also plenty of exploration of government corruption and overreach in films like the documentary AN INSIGNIFICANT MAN and the wonderful LADY OF THE LAKE, which played Busan and Berlin. Hindu-Muslim tensions are explored through a child’s eyes in the lovely A BILLION COLOUR STORY, while India-Pakistan conflicts are satirized in Gurvinder Singh’s amazing short film INFILTRATOR. Every film we have is special, and gives the audience plenty to think about long after they’ve left the theater.
Q: Weaving in Indian culture is important for the festival – can you share some decor, food traditions, etc. that will be present at the festival and their significance?
A: (Festival Producer Setu Raval) The IFFLA Lounge, located on the Mezzanine Level at Regal L.A. LIVE, hosts filmmakers, patrons, sponsors and pass/ticket holders and offers a beautiful space for one-on-one conversations, mixers and networking.
Raj Tents, a long-time supporter of IFFLA, beautifies the space with their lounge vignettes, regal backdrops and vibrant colors offering guests a luxurious area to relax between screenings and events.
This year’s Opening Night and Closing Night Galas will be held at Spice Affair, Los Angeles’ latest and premier Indian fine dining establishment located on the legendary Restaurant Row in Beverly Hills. Look forward to two nights filled with exclusive live entertainment, serious beats, cocktails, and delicious food, all set in an elegant yet festive ambience.
To attend, support, or find more information about the IFFLA, visit http://www.indianfilmfestival.org/.