Art and Experience: The London Indian Film Festival is back in cinemas this summer after an all-virtual effort in 2020.

In a challenging year for India and South Asia, the Bagri Foundation-run London festival and sister events in Birmingham and Manchester will premiere new indie films from the Indian subcontinent and diaspora, running from June 17-July 4. The fest will also have a virtual component via LoveLIFFatHome.com.

The festival is supported by the British Film Institute (BFI) using funds from the National Lottery.

The festival’s opening night U.K. gala premiere is feature documentary “W.O.M.B. (Women of My Billion),” which tells the story of one woman, Shrishti Bakshi, who walks the entire length of India (nearly 4,000 km) over 240 days to explore the experiences of other women in its one billion-plus population.

Another highlight of the festival is a special focus on British Asian filmmakers and their continued contribution to British cinema, which often depicts the British Asian immigrant experience.

Festival director Cary Rajinder Sawhney MBE said: “Last year we grew our audiences quite substantially by going online and U.K.-wide. With the U.K. scene improving, we are delighted to not only offer a strong high definition online experience on LoveLIFFatHome.com, but to also welcome our audiences back to the big screen in three major U.K. cities, at some of their finest cinemas.

Cinemas across the U.K. will begin to open their doors from May 17.

“We will be showcasing the unstoppable force that is India’s rich and diverse filmmaking, and of course the festival will be helping to highlight and support COVID charities working in South Asia,” added Sawhney. “In this year when ‘Britishness’ is being re-defined, we offer our ‘Great British Asians’ strand which will celebrate British Asian filmmakers and throw a spotlight on exciting emerging talents.”

This year’s highlights include special in conversation events with screenwriters Hanif Kureshi (“My Beautiful Laundrette”); Oscar and BAFTA-winning director Asif Kapadia (“Amy”) at BFI Southbank; director Gurinder Chadha (“Blinded by the Light”), alongside the 20th anniversary of the making of her “Bend It Like Beckham”; and British feminist filmmaker Pratibha Parmar (“Sari Red”) at the Barbican. The festival also celebrates feature doc “Ahimsa: Gandhi The Power of the Powerless” and also marks India’s greatest director, Satyajit Ray, on his 100th birth anniversary.

Ben Luxford, head of U.K. wide audiences at the BFI, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the festival again this year. Thanks to National Lottery players we’re able to help bring this exciting program to cinemas and households across the U.K. The focus on British Asian filmmakers this year is a particular highlight.”

Title Sponsor, Alka Bagri, trustee of the Bagri Foundation, added: “It has been a difficult year for many these past 12 months, and we are pleased to support a little escape for you via LIFF’s hybrid festival this year. Our seventh year as title sponsor showcases classic films and Q&As, as well as a range of U.K. premieres from some top British Asian and South Asian talent. Whether you attend in person, or watch from the comfort of your sofa, we hope you feel as excited as we are to see fresh faces and legendary stories from across Asian cinema.”

Source: Variety