Rohena Gera, director of Sir, is the first female to win the festival's audience award
The 5th anniversary of Birmingham Indian Film Festival opened with Director Anubhav Sinha walking the red carpet at Cineworld, Broad Street for his hard-hitting thriller ‘Article 15’ (out now on global general release) and ended this week with a sold-out screening of Ritesh Batra’s ‘Photograph’ at MAC Birmingham. The Festival was part of the Bagri London Indian Film Festival which together is the UK and Europe’s largest South Asian Film Festival.
Eleven days of 16 screenings and events took place in five venues across Birmingham and showcased a number of high profile and emerging women film-makers films, Q&A’s with Directors as well as a rarely seen documentary and special screenings of LGBTQ+ shorts attended by a diverse audience. The Festival’s first Screen Talk took place at The Mockingbird Cinema with India’s leading cult director Anurag Kashyap who took home a LIFF ICON award.
Other guests at screenings during the festival included stalwart investigative journalist, documentary maker and activist, Anand Patwardhan, Kannada actress Anju Alva Naik and directors Praveen Morchhale and Gaurav Bakshi. Legendary Bengali director, Buddhadeb Dasgupta also graced the city, and won the LIFF ICON award.
This year’s inaugural BIFF Audience Award went to the charming romance ‘Sir’, directed by Rohena Gera which took the Cannes film festival by storm in 2018. The award, which has been running at the Bagri London Indian Film Festival for 7 years, marks the first time it has been presented to a female director.
Rohena Gera said “I am truly delighted that ‘Sir’ has won the Audience Award in Birmingham. It means a lot to me that the film connects with the audience at the heart of the UK. I am honoured to be their favourite.”
The Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition & Award, presented in association with The Bagri Foundation, went to Rohan Parashuram Kanawade for U Ushacha who was presented with £1000 from the Satyajit Ray Foundation at the closing night of the London festival.
Cary Rajinder Sawhney MBE, Executive and Programming Director said “I’m delighted that we have showcased our strongest film selection ever for the 5th anniversary of Birmingham Indian Film Festival, helmed by the Birmingham premiere of politically daring film ‘Article 15’. Continuing to push boundaries of diversity, I’m pleased that our women protagonist led and LGBTQ+ themes have seen audiences flocking to them, redefining images of Indian and South Asian Culture in the media.”
Dharmesh Rajput, Head of Cinema, Birmingham added: “It’s been fantastic to have an increase in diverse audiences attending the festival this year and to have ended on a high with a sold-out screening of Ritesh Batra’s ‘Photograph’ which was well received by the audience. I’m proud that the festival platforms independent South Asian films which wouldn’t necessarily be seen here in the UK and that we’ve been able to interact with directors at Q&As.”
Gratitude to Birmingham City University and Asian Business Chamber of Commerce who share the festival’s passion for Asian arts and culture, and new hotel partner Malmaison Birmingham. Thanks to the BFI, awarding National Lottery funding, for their ongoing support, plus our many other supporters.
The Festival also thanks its partner venues Cineworld, Birmingham, MAC Birmingham, The Mockingbird Cinema, Centrala Space, and Medicine Bakery & Gallery.
The festival continues as the The South Asian Film Festival Up North, presented by the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival, LIFF, till 8th July.