The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles has been an important destination for arthouse and independent films, documentaries and shorts made by Indians and non-resident Indians for several years. The 15th edition packs it in: the festival opens on April 5 with Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha and closes with Hotel Salvation, Shubhashish Bhutiani’s debut feature.
Shrivastava’s film, which has run into trouble with the Central Board of Film Certification, is a cross-weave of stories about female sexual desire and empowerment. Hotel Salvation, about a hospice-like arrangement for the terminally ill in Varanasi, will be released in Indian cinemas on April 14.
Among the other features at IFFLA, which runs till April 9, are Konkona Sen Sharma’s 1970s-set family drama A Death in The Gunj, Ananya Kasaravalli’s Chronicles Of Hari, about a folk performer who dresses up as a woman, and Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy’s A Billion Colour Story, an exploration of race and intolerance.
Haobam Paban Kumar marries a ghost story and environmental concerns in Lady Of The Lake, Sanal Kumar Sasidharan attacks violence and male entitlement in Sexy Durga, and Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s first film in eight years, Pinneyum, examines the erosion of middle-class values.
In Suman Mukhopadhyay’s Incomplete, an old romance and enduring secrets catch up with the protagonist during a vacation. Priyadarshan’s Sometimes is set in a waiting room at a clinic where strangers await test results for the HIV virus. Bobby Sarma Baruah’s The Golden Wing is based on the true story of an Assamese aristocrat who dedicates her life to documenting folk music traditions.
The titles are by Indians as well as Indian-origin filmmakers scattered across the world. The selected documentaries include The Cinema Travellers, in which Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya explore the dying tradition of tent cinemas in rural Maharashtra, and An Insignificant Man, a study of the Aam Aadmi Party’s rise to power by Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Tewari. Rahul Jain’s Machines brings the rhythms of a textile factory to life.
The short films include Gurvinder Singh’s Infiltrator, about a pigeon that is suspected of being a spy, and Amar Kaushik’s Aaba, an examination of death and family ties. In Indranil Roychowdhury’s City of Love, a woman flees war-ravaged Syria and returns to Kolkata with her invalid son.
Anand Kishore’s Disco Obu follows a fictional former Bollywood star who has become a rickshaw driver. An affluent teenager falls for her maid in Karishma Dube’s Devi. In Saurav Rai’s Gudh, a 10-year-old boy recalls his troubled childhood. In Sheila Jayadev’s Spice Sisters, two middle-aged women try to get a place on a reality cookery show.