THE 2023 INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF LOS ANGELES (IFFLA) ANNOUNCES LINEUP FOR 21ST EDITION (OCTOBER 11-15, 2023)
CELEBRATING SOUTH ASIAN FILMMAKERS
IFFLA WILL OPEN WITH KHUFIYA DIRECTED BY VISHAL BHARDWAJ
AND CLOSE WITH ALL INDIA RANK BY VARUN GROVER
US Premieres of Documentaries The World is Family by Legendary Filmmaker Anand Patwardhan,
and The Golden Thread by Nishtha Jain
Exclusive Masterclass with World Renowned Filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj
Los Angeles, CA (September 14, 2023) – Today the 2023 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) announced the lineup of official selections for the 21st annual edition of the internationally acclaimed film festival. IFFLA will showcase 24 films (6 narrative features, 2 documentary features, 16 shorts) from 13 countries and in 14 languages, including the world theatrical premiere of Vishal Bhardwaj’s Khufiya, the world premiere of Atul Sabharwal’s Berlin, and the North American premieres of Varun Grover’s dramedy All Indian Rank, Dominic Sangma’s Garo language film Rapture, and the Malayalam film Aattam (The Play) by Anand Ekarshi. Plus, the LA premiere of Joram by Devashish Makhija.
Passes and Gala tickets are now available at www.indianfilmfestival.org. Tickets to individual programs including the Masterclass with Vishal Bhardwaj go on sale on September 23, 2023.
IFFLA’s Opening Gala selection, Vishal Bhardwaj’s Khufiya, is based on the novel Escape to Nowhere written by a former Chief of Counter Espionage agent, Amar Bhushan. This riveting espionage thriller follows operative Krishna Mehra (Tabu) whose dangerous mission leaves her juggling between her dual identity as a spy and a lover. The film stars Tabu (Drishyam 2, Andhadhun), Ali Fazal (Mirzapur, Victoria & Abdul), Wamiqa Gabbi (Jubilee, Eclipse), and Azmeri Haque Badhon (Rehana).
The Closing Gala selection will be the North American premiere of All India Rank by writer, filmmaker, comedian, and lyricist Varun Grover, that premiered at the 2023 Rotterdam Film Festival (IFFR). This charming coming-of-age dramedy, brimming with ‘90s pop culture paraphernalia, follows a turbulent year in the life of fresh-faced Vivek as he preps for India’s toughest undergrad exam at a coaching center far away from home. Grover will be in attendance opening the evening with an exclusive stand-up performance.
During the festival, renowned Indian film director, screenwriter, music composer, and producer Vishal Bhardwaj, will host an exclusive masterclass, where Bhardwaj will dive into his filmmaking journey and multi-faceted creative process across disciplines. Known best for his canny adaptations of Shakespeare to the Indian reality with Maqbool (2003), Omkara (2006), and Haider (2014), and having recently adapted Agatha Christie in Charlie Chopra (2023), Bhardwaj will also discuss his book to screen transitions. Lauded also for his priceless contributions to music for films, with hits like “Sapne Mein Milti Hai” (Satya) and “Beedi” (Omkara), Bhardwaj will delve into the impact music has on films.
“We are thrilled to enter IFFLA’s third decade offering a unique and much needed platform for emerging South Asian storytellers, and bringing a highly curated program to Los Angeles audiences,” said IFFLA Executive Director Christina Marouda. “Los Angeles has become home to countless artists with roots across South Asia and its diasporas. IFFLA has long been a vital touchstone for filmmakers due to both the platform it provides for their work to be seen in the heart of the American film industry as well as the support and networking it has offered the directors, actors, and other film artists who have been a part of the IFFLA ‘family.’”
Six feature films will have major premiere screenings at IFFLA. Atul Sabharwal, who is an IFFLA alum, will debut his world premiere of Berlin, a spy thriller mystery set in the early ‘90s in Delhi starring Rahul Bose, Aparshakti Khurana, and Ishwak Singh. The two films making their North American premieres at IFFLA are the dark supernatural tale Rapture by Dominic Sangma, a Locarno premiered Garo language film set in a remote Meghalayan community where a Christian pastor desperately struggles to maintain his grip over his congregation; and Aattam (The Play) by Anand Ekarshi, a scathing Malayalam chamber drama starring Vinay Forrt, about the havoc that ensues amidst a twelve-man theater troupe when their sole female member is groped by one of her colleagues.
Making its LA premiere, action-packed Joram by IFFLA alum Devashish Makhija (Ajji) boasts a cast of A-listers that includes Manoj Bajpayee in the leading role, as well as Tannishtha Chatterjee, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, and Smita Tambe. This adventure thriller follows a young couple who has fled their tribal battleground for a peaceful life in Mumbai, when a ruthless shadow from their past shows up at their slum and sends them clinging for dear life.
IFFLA will host the US premieres of two documentary features: The World is Family by legendary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan (Reason, War and Peace), his most personal film to date, that pays tribute to his parents whose lives were closely linked with India’s independence movement; and The Golden Thread by Nishtha Jain, a lyrical homage to one of the last remaining jute mills in West Bengal, once home to the world’s largest jute industry, now ravaged by mechanization.
IFFLA’s Co-Director of Programming Thouly Dosios said, “We’re profoundly inspired to have such a wide range of generations of South Asian storytellers join together in conversation under one roof over these five extraordinary days. From maestros whose oeuvre continues to expand in dynamic ways, to singular emerging voices who make leaps with their second films or feature debuts, to absolute newcomers whose striking entryways into the cinematic form have us longing for more.”
Co-Director of Programming Ritesh Mehta added, “We remain deeply committed to championing women directors, the forces behind 50% of our shorts program. Additionally, we are enthralled by how well the shorts represent the rich diversity of diasporic stories, from immigrant to second generation and mixed race experiences, from America to New Zealand, and beyond.”
Of the 16 short films presented in IFFLA’s main competition lineup half of them are US productions, with seven countries and 13 languages represented. This section boasts three world premieres including IFFLA alum Sushma Khadepaun’s Places I’ve Called My Own, starring Aditi Vasudev, about an Indian woman returning from the US and navigating fragile threads of family and unrequited queer love; Jhanvi Motla’s Mirage; and Aleem Hossain’s On the Blue Table.
Other highlights include Vibirson Gnanatheepan’s Anushan from France, about a teenager reconciling with his Tamil identity when an uncle arrives from Sri Lanka with wounds of war; the award-winning Bangladeshi documentary, Fantasy in a Concrete Jungle by Mehedi Mostafa; the DGA student winner Men in Blue, by Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda; Reema Maya’s Sundance premiered Nocturnal Burger; and Running, a playful hybrid documentary written and performed by Danny Pudi and directed by Arpita Mukherjee, that follows Pudi as he sets out to uncover the story of his late estranged father.
Seven features and 16 shorts will compete for the Grand Jury Prize Awards, which will be announced by the Jury members during the Awards Ceremony at the Closing Night Gala, along with the Audience Choice Awards.
The Jury members for the Feature Film Competition are:
- Karan Soni (Actor, Deadpool, Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse, Miracle Workers)
- Bilal Qureshi (Journalist and Film Critic, NPR and Washington Post)
- Utkarshini Vashishtha (Screenwriter, Gangubai Kathiawadi, Sarbjt; Associate Director, India’s Got Talent)
The Jury members for the Best Short Film Competition are:
- Priya Arora (Journalist, The New York Times, HuffPost; Podcaster, Queering Desi)
- Geeta Malik (Writer and Director, India Sweets and Spices, Abbott Elementary)
- Katie Walsh (Film Critic, Los Angeles Times)
Opening and Closing Night Galas will take place at Harmony Gold (7655 Sunset Blvd.) and all other screenings and the masterclass will be at the Regal LA Live (1000 W. Olympic Blvd.).
IFFLA is supported by the LA County Department of Arts and Culture as part of Creative Recovery LA, an initiative funded by the American Rescue Plan. The festival is also funded in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs.
For more information, please visit www.indianfilmfestival.org or follow us on Facebook (/indianfilmfestival), Instagram (@indianfilmfestival) and X (formerly Twitter) (@iffla).
For press images, click HERE.
2023 IFFLA’S OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
KHUFIYA – World Theatrical Premiere
India | 2023 | 158 mins | Hindi, English,Bengali
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Producers: Vishal Bhardwaj Films
Screenwriter: Vishal Bhardwaj, Rohan Narula
Cinematographer: Farhad Ahmed Dehlvi
Editor: Sreekar Prasad
Cast: Tabu, Ali Fazal, Wamiqa Gabbi, Azmeri Haque Badhon
Logline: Based on the novel ‘Escape to Nowhere’ by Amar Bhushan, this riveting espionage thriller follows Indian intelligence operative Krishna Mehra whose dangerous mission leaves her juggling between her dual identity as a spy and a lover.
ALL INDIA RANK – North American Premiere
India | 2022 | 98 mins | Hindi, English
Director: Varun Grover
Producers: Sanjay Routray, Sarita Patil, Dikssha Jyote Routray
Screenwriter: Varun Grover
Cinematographer: Archana Ghangrekar
Editor: Sanyukta Kaza
Cast: Bodhisattva Sharma, Samta Sudiksha, Shashi Bhushan, Geeta Agrawal, Sheeba Chaddha, Neeraj, Ayush Pandey, Saadat Khan
Brimming with 1990s pop paraphernalia, this story follows a turbulent year in the life of fresh-faced Vivek prepping for India’s toughest undergrad exam at a coaching center far away, even as his parents grapple with their own coming of age back at home.
AATTAM – North American Premiere
India | 2023 | 139 mins | Malayalam
Director: Anand Ekarshi
Producer: Ajith Joy
Screenwriter: Anand Ekarshi
Cinematographer: Anurudh Aneesh
Editor: Mahesh Bhuvanend
Cast: Zarin Shihab, Vinay Forrt, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Nandan Unni, Selvaraj Raghavan VR, Aji Thiruvankulam, Sudheer Babu, Madan Babu, Santhosh Piravom, Sijin Sijeesh, Jolly Antony, Sanosh Murali, Prasanth Madhavan
All is hunky-dory in the Arangu theater group till its sole actress Anjali is groped by one of the twelve male members during a celebratory night out. A meeting called to decide on the expulsion of the accused quickly descends into a discord in which none of the men comes off with flying colors.
BERLIN – World Premiere
India | 2022 | 124 mins | Hindi
Director: Atul Sabharwal
Producers: Zee Studios , Atul Sabharwal , Manav Shrivastav
Screenwriter: Atul Sabharwal
Cinematographer: Shreedutta Namjoshi
Editor: Irene Dhar Malik
Cast: Aparshakti Khurana, Ishwak Singh, Rahul Bose, Kabir Bedi, Anupriya Goenka
As the nation awaits Boris Yeltsin’s historic 1993 visit, a reclusive sign-language teacher gets recruited by the Indian Intelligence Bureau to interrogate Ashok, the deaf-mute waiter of a notorious, diplomat-frequented haunt, who is held in custody over an alleged plot to assassinate the Russian President.
JORAM – LA Premiere
India | 2023 | 138 mins | Hindi
Director: Devashish Makhija
Producers: Shariq Patel, Ashima Avasthi Chaudhuri, Anupama Bose, Devashish Makhija
Screenwriter: Devashish Makhija
Cinematographer: Piyush Puty
Editor: Abhro Banerjee
Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub, Smita Tambe, Megha Mathur, Tannishtha Chatterjee (Special Appearance)
Once rebels fighting for rights to their land, now parents of a newborn, a young couple has fled their tribal battleground for a peaceful and anonymous life in Mumbai, when a ruthless shadow from the past furiously shows up at their slum to haunt them.
RAPTURE – North American Premiere
India, China, Switzerland, Netherlands, Qatar | 2023 | 127 mins | Garo
Director: Dominic Sangma
Producers: Xu Jianshang, Eva Gunme R. Marak, Anu Rangachar, Sun Li, Harsh Agarwal, Aditya Grover, Stephen Zacharias, Dominic Sangma
Screenwriter: Dominic Sangma
Cinematographer: Tojo Xavier
Editor: Mohan Kumar Valasala
Cast: Torikhu A. Sangma, Handam R. Marak, Celestine K. Sangma, Balsrame A. Sangma, Johan Ch. Sangma, Riksil K. Marak, Nadira N. Sangma
In a remote Meghalayan village where Christianity competes with tribal pagan beliefs, the local pastor prophesies the apocalypse while selling salvation for a hefty price. When a series of sudden disappearances is attributed to the mysterious arrival of a family of outsiders, fear turns to terror, spreading like wildfire.
THE GOLDEN THREAD – US Premiere
India, Bosnia and Herzegovina, The Netherlands, Norway | 2022 | 84 mins | Hindi, Bengali
Director: Nishtha Jain
Producer: Nishtha Jain
Screenwriter: Nishtha Jain
Cinematographer: Rakesh Haridas
Editors: Alex Goekjian, Nishtha Jain
Cast: Prem Chaurasia, Maqsood Alam, Tanti Dutta, Mohamad Qasim
This mesmerizing documentary paints a rich and lyrical portrait of the one of the last remaining jute mills in West Bengal, once home to the world’s largest jute industry, and is an ode to generations of skilled laborers whose dreams now hang by threads.
THE WORLD IS FAMILY – US Premiere
India| 2023 | 96 mins | English, Hindi, Marathi
Director: Anand Patwardhan
Producer: Anand Patwardhan
Cinematographers: Anand Patwardhan, Simantini Dhuru
Editor: Anand Patwardhan
One of India’s most distinguished documentary filmmakers, Anand Patwardhan pays an affectionate tribute to his parents whose own lives and those of their family members and friends were resolutely linked with India’s independence movement.
ANU – North American Premiere
New Zealand, India | 2023 | 14 mins | Hindi, English, Māori
Director: Pulkit Arora
Producer: Rachel Fawcett
Screenwriter: Pulkit Arora
Cinematographer: Adam Luxton
Editors: Lisa Greenfield, Jolin Lee
Cast: Prabha Ravi
When her priest in India postpones an auspicious ceremony, a widow stuck in quarantine in New Zealand becomes determined to perform a DIY version of the ritual within the confines of her sterile hotel room.
ANUSHAN – North American Premiere
France | 2023 | 24 mins | French, Tamil
Director: Vibirson Gnanatheepan
Producers: Stanislas Wicker, Samy Boudiaf, Charles Benoin, (SIC) Pictures, Zangro, Bien ou Bien Productions
Screenwriter: Vibirson Gnanatheepan
Cinematographer: Valentin Vignet
Editor: Anaïs Manuelli
Cast: Kirujan Logeswaran, Eitan Cattani Enquin, Guru, KP Logathas, Vathana Arumugarajah
Weary of his parents’ immigration history and obstinately rejecting his Tamil identity, teenage Anushan struggles to fit in with his French buddies in unwelcoming Paris, when an uncle shows up from Sri Lanka, with wounds of war still raw.
Germany, USA | 2020 | 13 mins | Dari, German
Director: Zamarin Wahdat
Producers: Joy Jorgensen
Screenwriter: Zamarin Wahdat
Cinematographer: Lorena Duran
Editor: Jennifer Ruff, Alan Wu
Cast: Lara Cengiz, Kailas Mahadevan, Merlet Collet, Oskar Zikur
When a precocious 8-year-old Afghan girl stows away on the trunk of her father’s delivery van, the two of them embark on a shared journey of discovery through a hostile German city where microaggressions against immigrants come in different shades.
DEAR ME – US Premiere
India | 2022 | 4 mins | Bengali, English
Director: Suchana Saha
Producer: Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute
Screenwriter: Suchana Saha
Cinematographer: Suchana Saha
Editor: Suchana Saha
A young woman composes a letter to herself embracing her fragmented reality, in a beautiful and audacious act of kindness.
FANTASY IN A CONCRETE JUNGLE – North American Premiere
USA | 2022 | 15 mins | English
Category: Documentary, Experimental
Director: Mehedi Mostafa
Producer: Mehedi Mostafa
Screenwriter: Mehedi Mostafa
Cinematographer: Mehedi Mostafa
Editor: Emil Joseph
Migrant workers and blue collar denizens in Dhaka fantasize about place, home and belonging, in this meditative essay film narrated as a series of wonderments by a Bangladeshi architect.
USA | 2022 | 13 mins | English
Directors: Ethan Montgomery, Luke Montgomery
Producers: Ethan Montgomery, Luke Montgomery
Screenwriter: Ethan Montgomery, Luke Montgomery
Cinematographers: Graham Skinner
Editors: Ethan Montgomery, Luke Montgomery
Cast: Jin Kim, Ethan Montgomery
A clarinet player’s position as first chair of her college orchestra is threatened when a talented and effortlessly confident new player enters the picture.
USA | 2022 | 10 mins |English, Hindi
Director: Ragini Bhasin
Producer: Aishwarya Sonar
Screenwriter: Ragini Bhasin
Cinematographer: Robert Nachman
Editor: Brandon Yee
Cast: Ayanna Patel, Neil Iyer, Natasha Chandel
On festive Rakhi day, a feisty young Indian American girl, playing rough with her male cousins, gets an unpleasant surprise, after which they don’t want to play with her anymore.
MEN IN BLUE – US Premiere
USA | 2022 | 35 mins |Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, English
Director: Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda
Producers: Janani Vijayanathan, Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda
Screenwriter: Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda
Cinematographer: Sebastián Valdivieso
Editor: Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda
Cast: Antonythasan Jesuthasan, Manoj Chandra, Manoj Pillai
Resistance brews among a group of Indian immigrants stripped of their dignity after being lured to the US to repair ships and oil rigs damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
MIRAGE – World Premiere
USA | 2022 | 16 mins |English
Director: Jhanvi Motla
Producers: Aliza Khan, Sonali Sundararaj
Screenwriter: Jhanvi Motla
Cinematographer: Alan Torres
Editor: Jacob Ehrlich
Cast: Shavya Samala, Abhimanyu Katyal, Behzad Dabu, Jozef Fahey and Shashikant Panat
A young Indian widow moves to the California desert to help run her cousin’s crumbling motel, but when she gets caught up with the motel’s shady clientele, her American Dream devolves into nightmare.
NOCTURNAL BURGER – LA Premiere
India, USA | 2023 | 28 mins | Hindi, Marathi, English
Director: Reema Maya
Producers: Reema Maya, Michael Y. Chow
Screenwriter: Reema Maya
Cinematographer: Harshvir Oberai
Editors: Reema Maya, Rohan Kapoor
Cast: Bebo Madiwal, Millo Sunka, Trupti Khamkar, Somnath Mandal, Shrikant Mohan Yadav, Mukesh Pachode, Pushpendra Singh
Tempted by the promise of a nocturnal burger, a young girl ends up at a Mumbai police station where a frustrated police woman must discern facts from fiction amidst unreliable accounts from unlikely witnesses.
ON THE BLUE TABLE – World Premiere
USA | 2023 | 10 mins | English
Category: Narrative, Documentary, Experimental, Animation
Director: Aleem Hossain
Producer: Aleem Hossain
Screenwriter: Aleem Hossain
Cinematographer: Aleem Hossain
Editor: Aleem Hossain
Cast: Hira Ismail, Nicholas Le
Amidst debris scattered around a weathered IKEA table, two astronauts retrieve messages from a faraway land speaking of a faraway time.
PLACES I’VE CALLED MY OWN – World Premiere
India, France | 2023 | 28 mins | Hindi
Director: Sushma Khadepaun
Producers: Justin Pechberty, Damien Maghrebi /Co-Producer: Avantika Singh Desbouvries
Screenwriter: Sushma Khadepaun
Cinematographer: Alana Mejia Gonzalez
Editor: Clémence Carré
Cast: Aditi Vasudev, Bhumika Dube, Amardeep Jha
After years in the US and in the midst of fertility treatments, Tara returns to India to attend her father’s funeral. With the shadow of the paterfamilias still looming large, she must navigate the fragile threads of family and unrequited queer love at the place she once called home.
POST TERM – LA Premiere
USA | 2023 | 16 mins | Urdu, English, Punjabi
Director: Saleem Nasir Gondal
Producers: Kellie Brook Malone, Rose Frullani-Bacon, Afi Patterson
Screenwriter: Saleem Nasir Gondal
Cinematographers: Arsalan Danish, Kusi Del Castillo
Editor: Adriana Céspedes
Cast: Sanjana Shukla, Shezi Sardar, Nikhaar Kishnani, Shahjehan Khan
In 1990s Long Island, a heavily pregnant Rahimah struggles with the uncertainties of impending motherhood and the challenge of making roots in America, when she discovers something extraordinary about her perfectly ordinary husband.
USA | 2022 | 40 mins |English, Telugu, Polish
Category: Narrative, Documentary
Director: Arpita Mukherjee
Producers: Hypokrit Productions, East West Players, EnActe Arts, Danny Pudi
Screenwriter: Danny Pudi
Cinematographers: Sten Tadashi Olson
Editor: Kabir Chopra
Cast: Danny Pudi, Lee Horton, Lawrence Pedapati, Teresa Pudi
In this ambitious yet personal creative documentary, actor Danny Pudi, empowered by a highly playful video game setting, attempts to uncover the puzzle of his estranged father shortly after his death.
USA | 2022 | 12 mins | English, Arabic
Director: Maryam Mir
Producers: Sara Balghonaim, Aya Hamdan
Screenwriter: Maryam Mir
Cinematographer: Chheangkea Leng
Editor: Maryam Mir
Cast: Laith Nakli, Mahira Kakkar
On the hip streets of Brooklyn, an old world Syrian baker, desperate to sell his authentic baklava, finds himself competing with “Laddoo Lady”, who is already a viral hit with the keto crowd.
TALL DARK AND HANDSOME
UK | 2023 | 14 mins | English
Director: Sam Baron
Producer: Nathan Craig
Screenwriters: Sam Baron, Amit Shah
Cinematographer: Alistair Little
Editor: Ian Robertson
Cast: Amit Shah, Laura Aikman, Sagar Radia, Shobu Kapoor
Blissfully happy in his biracial marriage and on the heels of becoming a dad, Varun is surprised to discover that his wife’s ex-boyfriend was also Indian. And so was the one before him. And then some.
ABOUT INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF LOS ANGELES (IFFLA)
The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) brings to Los Angeles audiences the most innovative independent films coming out of South Asian and its diasporas, in a vibrant program comprising features and shorts, including narrative, documentary, and animated works.
In addition to film screenings, the festival offers stimulating discussions between filmmakers and audiences, as well as panel conversations and industry sessions. IFFLA also hosts original special programs, such as retrospectives, spotlights, and masterclasses, along with lively networking and social events, all aimed at fostering a greater appreciation of Indian cinema and culture and promoting the diverse perspectives of the Indian and larger South Asian diaspora.
IFFLA was founded in 2002 as a non-profit organization with the aim to offer the Los Angeles community a unique opportunity to learn about India’s multifaceted culture and long history of filmmaking. Since then, IFFLA has grown into the premiere U.S. venue for discovering the best of Indian cinema, as well as a vital hub that fosters an important dialogue among the most original independent storytellers from India and its diaspora, the greater South Asian diasporic community and the international film industry at large.
For Media specific inquiries, please contact:
email@example.com / 323.933.3399