New York’s oldest Indian film festival – previously known as the MIAAC Film Festival – is entering its 11th year with a new name, new date and new festival director but continuing with its usual diverse selection of films. The New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) is presented by the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC). The festival will open with Disney’s Do Dooni Chaar, starring the evergreen actor-couple Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh Kapoor (who will also be attending the festival), a spirited film which tells the story of a middle class family in Delhi struggling to upgrade from their family motorbike to a humble car. This year, the NYIFF is offering film buffs a variety of independent narrative films, documentaries and shorts from across India and the Indian diaspora and in several languages.
According to festival director Aseem Chhabra, ”Film lovers in the greater New York area will see an array of unique stories and meet and interact with the filmmakers. We are presenting a wonderful mix of films from India and other parts of the subcontinent as well as the Diaspora – a blend of works by young independent filmmakers and a few masters” He continues, “The program represents films from Mumbai as well as other regional filmmaking centers in the subcontinent. Many of the films we are presenting are world and US premieres.”
The films will be covering a variety of issues, offering audiences a chance to not only watch some of the most unique cinema from India and the diaspora community but also take part in the dialog about the themes that are explored. Among the films to look forward to is Bhopali, a documentary by Max Carlson about the Union Carbide factory gas leak in 1984 that contaminated and killed thousands of people. The film tells an important story about the countless people are who are still suffering as a result of the world’s worst industrial disaster and how their plight has largely been ignored by those responsible. Another intriguing film, Semshook by Siddhartha Anand Kumar, tells the story of Tenzin, a Tibetan born and brought up in India who goes on a journey to his homeland and in the process discovers the injustices that have gripped Tibet. Close to the geo-political issues of Semshook is Aamir Bashir’s Harud (Autumn), a poignant story set against the backdrop of the Kashmiri insurgency. Incidentally, the film is paired with a short film titled Raju, a timely American production about an undocumented immigrant who works for a debt relief agency.
The NYIFF is also partnering with the Whistling Woods International Film School in Mumbai, by offering a selection of six short student films that tackle various aspects of life in modern India, women’s rights, the challenges of a patriarchal society and class differences. Topping off this compelling variety of films are a series of industry panels on May 7 that will discuss selected topics in film production today. These include a joint panel presented by New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) and NYIFF on ‘Women Filmmakers Working in South Asia.’ The panel will feature prominent female filmmakers, such as Aparna Sen, Bela Negi and Rubaiyat Hossain, discussing the filmmaking landscape for women in India and how their approach and reception is influenced because of their gender.
The NYIFF will take place at the Tribeca Cinemas in New York City, with the exception of the opening night, which will be held at the prestigious Paris Theater.
Check out the official trailer for the NYIFF.
For the full lineup, screening schedule and to purchase tickets for the New York Indian Film Festival, click here.
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