The UK’s leading South Asian film festival to champion female-oriented films, artists and auteurs, UK Asian Film Festival, returns to Leicester for its second year, taking residency across the city from Thu 15 - Sat 31 March. Following a tremendous programme of engaging film content and audience volumes in 2017, Tongues on Fire in association with Phizzical, Phoenix Cinema and Art Centre and De Montfort University presents an even stronger curation of film screenings and talent interactions this year.
Surpassing the benchmark established as it made its debut on Leicester’s cultural calendar last year, UK Asian Film Festival, Leicester will showcase a range of South Asian independent cinema exclusively to Leicester audiences through UK premieres and special screenings with Q&A sessions presented by producers, directors and actors. Marking 100 years of women gaining the right to vote in the UK, the theme of UK Asian Film Festival 2018 is F-Rated – a specialist rating assigned to films that have been recognised for their progressive representation of women, or those with women behind the camera.
The Red Carpet Launch on Thu 15 March at Phoenix Cinema will feature an In Conversation with actress Mahira Khan, Pakistan’s biggest celebrity transcending borders with a global fan base post starring opposite Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
The Festival Opening Gala premiere of Side A & Side B (Rahat Kazmi, 2018) will take place on Sun 19 March at Phoenix Cinema. Kazmi presents a humorous and satirical take based on the real ban on TV and cinema during the 1993 Kashmir conflict. A community’s love of cinema during the most extreme and life-threatening circumstances unites an unlikely group of friends to make their own movie. A mere mention of cinema could get them killed by local extremists. Kazmi’s charming black comedy is as poignant as it is playful, shedding light on how even the harshest of situations can give rise to the greatest humanity. The film will be followed by a Q&A with director Rahat Kazmi and the cast.
Continuing to celebrate the work of one of India’s most avant garde filmmakers, the Festival Premiere of Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz (Onir, 2017) will take place on Mon 19 March, Phoenix Leicester. The acclaimed director’s latest feature is a grounded tale of loneliness and longing in the modern world, which wonderfully captures millennial angst in everything from finding meaning to the need to seek companionship in a world built on swiping left, right and centre. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Onir. Onir's Indian anthology work I Am will also be screened as a festival preview at De Montfort University onFri 16 March that consists of four short films: Omar, Afia, Abhimanyu, and Megha. This screening will be followed by a Q&A with Dr. Monia Acciari, De Montfort University.
My Birthday Song (Samir Soni, 2018), will be screened as a Festival Premiere on Wed 21 March at Phoenix Cinema. A series of twisted events blurs the line between past, present and future and between what’s real and imagined. My Birthday Song explores deja vu within the framework of the psychological thriller. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with actor Sanjay Suri.
Tikli & Laxmi Bomb (Aditya Kripalani, 2017) will be screened as a Festival Premiere on Thu 22 March at Phoenix Cinema. Based on Aditya Kripalani’s best-selling novel set in Mumbai’s red light district about a jaded sex-worker, Laxmi, who has developed a deep-seeded loyalty to the pimp, Mhatre. When Mhatre brings on board the young and rebellious Putul to be taught the ropes, they come to be known as Tikli and Laxmi Bomb and launch a mini revolution, setting up a system for women, run by women and on their own terms. The truly female-centric film, featuring a 99 per cent female crew, recently won Best Film at the Berlin Independent Film Festival. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director, Aditya Kripalani.
Shalom Bollywood: The Untold Story of Indian Cinema (Danny Ben-Moshe, 2017) will be screened as a Festival Premiere on Fri 23 March at Phoenix Cinema. British-born, Jewish documentary filmmaker, Danny Ben-Moshe, brings to screen a previously unknown tale of how Indian Jews played a formative role in shaping the world’s largest film industry. When Indian cinema began 100 years ago, it was frowned upon for Hindu and Muslim women to perform on screen, so Indian Jewish women took on female lead roles and dominated this space for decades. The documentary reintroduces audiences to some of India’s greatest Jewish actors, like Sulochana, Pramila, the unforgettable Nadira and Bollywood’s favourite uncle, David. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Dr. Monia Acciari, De Montfort University.
Also on Fri 23 March at Phoenix Cinema will also welcome the Festival Premiere of Devashish Makhija’s Ajji (Granny) (2017). The Hindi-language, social drama revolves around an elderly woman, fondly known as Ajji, who finds her nine-year granddaughter dumped in a trash heap after having been assaulted near her slum. What follows is a bloody quest for revenge and an exploration into the horrors of toxic masculinity. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with actress Sushama Deshpande.
The Closing Gala Premiere, Boogie Man (Andrew Morahan, 2018) on Fri 30 March at Phoenix Cinema is a coming-of-age story of Pavan, an 18-year-old boy who brightens his mundane existence by fantasising about the world of 1970’s dance culture. It chronicles his journey as he comes to terms with his escapist dream world vs. reality, while also exploring the struggles of identity and clashes of cultures that come with being an Indian living in contemporary London. The film stars the British Supergirl actress making waves in Bollywood and South Indian film industries, Amy Jackson; and former JLS frontman Aston Merrygold in his acting debut. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Andrew Morahan and 70’s DJ set in the Phoenix Cinema Bar.
The Exhibition, Pictures From The Border, will run from Mon 12 - Fri 30 March at LCB Depot, presenting visual artist Ben-Azeera Lela’s body of work that captures the aspirations, sacrifices and legacies of South Asian women to inspire a new generation. Full Festival Progamme details featured on the website: www.phizzical.com/ukaff-leicester
Sabras Radio is the official media partner for UK Asian Film Festival in Leicester.