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London Indian Film Festival 2015 kicks off with Sundance winner Umrika

Prashant Nair’s Umrika, winner of the Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, starring Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi) and Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel), will be the opening night gala of The Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival (July 16-23).

The festival is now in its 6th edition and firmly established as Europe’s largest showcase for South Asian cinema. Nair’s debut film Delhi in a Day was a great success at the festival’s 2012 edition.

Prashant Nair, writer/director of Umrika, said, “I’m so excited to hear that Umrika will open the London Indian Film Festival this year. We’ve heard such great things about the audiences at LIFF and can’t wait to share our film with them. We’re hoping the film’s nostalgic portrayal of 1980s India, its themes and the many cross-cultural references will resonate with LIFF’s audiences.”

The festival is pleased to announce that the Bagri Foundation, a charity whose aims include the advancement of literacy, education and the arts, with an emphasis on those of India, and the appreciation and understanding of Asian cultures, is on board as the Title Sponsor.

Alka Bagri of the Bagri Foundation said, “Cinema has a vital role to play in exploring lives, sharing emotions, investigating social issues, and expanding horizons. Given the explanatory power of this medium, we are absolutely delighted to be supporting the London Indian Film Festival as title sponsors. The Bagri Foundation is committed to promoting rich cultural endeavours, fostering dialogues and providing platforms for creativity to blossom. In line with this, the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival offers a fantastic opportunity for art lovers to embark on an exciting journey and to immerse themselves in South Asian culture.”

This year, the dynamic festival is also expanding to UK’s second largest city Birmingham with a selection of highlight screenings at Midlands Arts Centre and Cineworld Broad Street.

The festival will close with hard-hitting cricket documentary Death of a Gentleman, featuring Ravi Shastri, Kevin Pietersen, Lalit Modi, N Srinivasan and Giles Clarke.

Director Sam Collins said, “Death of a Gentleman has been four years in the making, and we are hugely excited to be chosen as the closing film at the 2015 LIFF. This is a very human story about passion, money and power, and we hope to make a persuasive case to cricket fans and non cricket fans alike that the greatest game in the world needs to change its ways.”

Other programme highlights include: a rare Screen Talk by one of India’s most acclaimed mainstream filmmakers Tamilian giant Mani Ratnam, Berlinale winner Dhanak, Venice winner Court, Toronto doc. Monsoon and also Bengali art-house hit Labour of Love. UK premieres continue with Slumdog-like The Crows Egg and 31st October starring Soha Ali Khan. Nepalese Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala attends to support a charity event for the Nepal Earthquake Appeal. Actress Konkona Sen Sharma will present her films Saari Raat and Gour Hari Dastaan: The Freedom File, with the latter’s director Ananth Mahadevan also in attendance.

The festival includes the coveted Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition & Award, supported by the Bagri Foundation.

LIFF’s Executive & Programming Director Cary Rajinder Sawhney said, “It is wonderful that the festival is expanding so rapidly in stature and reach, proving there is an un-tapped market for Indian independent cinema with UK audiences.”

LIFF 2015

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