Indian Film Festival of Melbourne amid stars, awards and fanfare galore

Indian Film Festival of Melbourne amid stars,  awards and fanfare galore

1 2 3The biggest film festival of the southern hemisphere commemorating Indian films

and films from across the globe sprinkled over the Australian soil once again with

the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM). The annual film festival was

marked from 14th-27th August, 2015, and colored Australia with joy and jubilation.

The theme for this year’s IFFM was ‘equality’, exploring the richness of

contemporary Indian cinema featuring films from Bollywood to art house and

documentaries. The 14-day festival presented a world-class program overflowing

with gala events, master classes with India’s leading film figures, and over 45films

screening across four Melbourne venues.

The festival had India’s biggest stars as special guests. These included, the veteran

actor, Mr. Anil Kapoor, who has made a mark in both Bollywood and Hollywood

with his versatile performances. Kapoor was accompanied by his ever gorgeous

looking-daughter, Ms. Sonam Kapoor. The list of other celebrated celebrities

included; screen legend Simi Garewal, aka The Lady in White; Bollywood

heartthrob Imran Khan; Shonali Bose, director of Margarita With A Straw;

Nagesh Kukunoor and Elahé Hiptoola, director and producer of Dhanak, which

scooped The Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus International Jury for the best

feature length film at the Berlin Film Festival this year; Indian National Award

2015 winning director, Srijit and multi-award winning actress Kangana Ranaut.

IFFM, once again hosted the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne Awards (IFFM

Awards), the first Indian cinema awards of this kind in Australia, successfully. For

the occasion a jury panel of Indian and Australian film legends and experts

featuring Simi Garewal, Rajeev Masand, Andrew Anastasios, Jill Bilcock, and

Nikhil Advani had been roped in to honour winners in the categories of Best Film,

Best Performance, Best Director and Best Independent Film. Together with the

recipient of the People’s Choice Award.

The awards ceremony was accompanied by a glamorous fashion show as iconic

Indian designer Anamika Khanna and her Australian counterparts showcased a

unique collection presented by Australian models, celebrities, Bollywood stars and

guests from various walks of life. Many of the garments were auctioned off during

the evening with all proceeds going to The Royal Children’s Hospital.

IFFM began from 14 August with Umrika, which won the World Cinema Dramatic

Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for illuminating cultural

divides through its portrayal of a young Indian boy’s mythologizing of America.

“We are really delighted to open the festival with a screening of this most

cherished film,” said festival director Mitu Bhowmick Lange.

The opening weekend coincided with the Indian Independence Day on August 15

and the festival commemorated this important event day with ‘Mr India’ star Mr

Anil Kapoor, hoisting the Indian flag in the midst of a dense crowd, Rose petals

tumbled out of the furled flag, and, in a magical moment, the entire square joined

in with a passionate rendition of the Indian national anthem. This was followed by

an array of ceremonies like, ‘The Telstra Bollywood Dance Competition’, fashion

and the recognition of excellence in India’s film culture

With a special focus on this year’s theme of “Equality”, IFFM presented five

dynamic programme streams of new and classic films from India and the

subcontinent. Festival director Mitu Bhowmick Lange said, “Indian filmmakers –

from independent short film makers to our most powerful directors – turn their

gaze to issues of freedom and equality in the contemporary world and celebrate the

diversity that defines us all.”

The ‘Equality’ theme is explored in a number of critically lauded features and

documentaries. Prominent examples include Naanu Avanalla…Avalu(I Am Not

He…She),which focuses on a day in the life of a transgender; Unfreedom, a film

banned in India for its frank depiction of a lesbian relationship; Tell Me A Story

depicting four stories about life in Bombay as a gay man; the award winning

documentary Newborns, about women who survived acid attacks; and the runaway

hit PK, a film that broke box office records while polarising Indian audiences

through its courageous and bold discussions of religion and religiosity.

The section ‘Hurrah Bollywood!’ featured the best mainstream Hindi cinema from

the last twelve months, such as Haider and Piku, both of the films garnered huge

appreciation.

‘Beyond Bollywood’ presented art house and cinema in regional Indian languages,

with programme highlights including the multi-award winning Tamil drama Kaaka

Muttai, Goli Soda, among others.

‘Films from the Subcontinent’ focused on films from Bangladesh, Pakistan and

Nepal, such as; Burka Avenger, the extremely popular Pakistani animated TV

series about a young masked heroine fighting the Taliban (three episodes were

shown together as a single feature). ‘Girl Power’ featured films celebrating female

characters; ‘Film India World’ focused on Indian films that cross international

borders; while ‘Master Stroke’ showcased some of the greatest classics from

India’s rich cinematic history including screenings of Satyajit Ray’s digitally

remastered classics Charulata and Nayak; the documentaries The Kingdom of Nek

Chand and Calcutta from iconic Australian filmmaker Paul Cox exploring his love

of India and three classics from much loved actor Anil Kapoor, the special guest

of the 2015 Festival. As its closing film, IFFM hosted the world premiere of the

political thriller Phantom.

A carnival of awards, films,

competitions and more…

The Western Union Short Film Competition

A podium to new and enthusiastic filmmakers saw a range of inclusive cinema

with this year’s theme ‘Equality’. Road to Glory, directed by Mark Hellinger and

Jesse Maskell, was awarded the best Australian Short film. And Mark collected the

award at the IFFM Awards Night (plus a trip to India!).

Rape: It’s Your Fault, directed by edgy Indian comedy collective All India

Bakchod, won the award for best Indian short film.

The Telstra Bollywood Dance Competition

With the Katti Batti trio Nikhil Advani, Kangana Ranaut and Imran Khan as

judges for the afternoon of dance and celebration had the audience grooving.

Indian funnyman Kiku Sharda, dressed as his moniker Palak tickled the audience

with his wit.

Nikhil Advani, director of the much-anticipated Katti Batti, launched the clip for

new song Sarfira to the excitement of crowd and stars alike.

The overall winners of the day were:

The Dancing Bird (preteen)

Natya Bollywood and Bollywood Dimensions

Hannah Dawson (solo)

A number of Q&As and Masterclass sessions

Legendary Australian auteur Paul Cox captivated audiences with tales of his early

visits to India, and Bengali filmmaker Srijit Mukherji screened his National award-

winning film Chotushkone (whose twist left everybody stunned!)

Director Vinnil Markan treated an enthusiastic cinema to the world premiere of

Zorawar, which concluded to a rousing standing ovation! Dhanak delighted and

enthralled a packed house at Hoyts Melbourne Central, and director Nagesh

Kukunoor and producer Elahe Hiptoola fielded questions from an amazed

audience. Australian filmmaker Ana Tiwary screened her pertinent documentary

Sunshine & Shade, and discussed the effect of racism upon students in our current

climate, among others.

The dazzling Fashion Show….

The evening saw footy players, journalists, actresses, K-pop stars, philanthropists

and Bollywood superstars walk the ramp: in pieces by Australian designers Roopa

Pemmaraju, Susan Dimasi and Richard Nylon, and Indian high-profile designers

Gaurav Gupta and Anamika Khanna. It was a showcase of collaboration between

countries and cultures. The showstopping by Sonam Kapoor saw the night out in

style: with a walk in a breathtaking gown by Anamika Khanna.

2015 Indian Film Festival Melbourne Award Winners

Best Actor: Irrfan Khan – Piku / Shahid Kapoor – Haider

Best Actress: Bhumi Pednekar–Dum Lagake Haisha

Best Director: Shoojit Sircar–Piku

Best Film: Piku

Best Indie Film: Kaaka Muttai (Crows Eggs)

IFFM Excellence in Cinema: Anil Kapoor

Telstra People’s Choice Award: PK

WU Short Film Award Winners: Rape -It’s Your Fault (India) and Road to Glory

(Australia)

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