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‘Sold’ wins London Indian Film Festival

Sold  LIFFOscar-winning director Jeffrey D Brown’s hard-hitting child trafficking drama Sold, executive produced by Emma Thompson and starring Gillian Anderson, which opened the 5th edition of the London Indian Film Festival (July 10-17), has won the festival’s Pure Heaven audience award.

Jeffrey D Brown said, “It’s really amazing. I hadn’t really anticipated this at all. I’m really grateful, humbled and speechless. I really hope this galvanises more people to see the film so that we can help the kids who’ve been through this ordeal and we can end this travesty around the globe.”

Brown and producer Jane Charles are in advanced discussions with distributors with a view to securing a global release for Sold in early 2015.

The runner-up for the audience award was Samruddhi Porey’s Hemalkasa, the festival’s closing night film starring Indian cinema icon Nana Patekar. The film is a biopic about a doctor couple that dedicated their lives towards improving the lot of tribal people in Western India with little or no help from the government.

The festival’s popular Satyajit Ray Foundation Short Film Competition was won by Shubhashish Bhutiani’s Kush. The award carries a cash prize of £1000. Kush previously won short film kudos at Venice and was long-listed for the live action short film Oscar. Ananya Kasaravalli’s Devil in the Black Stone (Kappu Kallina Saitana) won a Special Mention.

Shubhashish Bhutiani said, “Thank you so much to the London Indian Film Festival Jury and the Satyajit Ray Foundation for this amazing honour. His dealing with children and the way he told truthful and complex stories in such a simple way are some of the things I’ve learnt from Satyajit Ray. I heard the story for this film in a classroom many years ago, and felt compelled to share it after it resonated with me for all that time. With an incredibly supportive cast and crew, we made the film with the little resources we have, and for it today, to be recognized by our own community in such a culturally diverse part of the world, means a lot to me.”

The London Indian Film Festival has grown exponentially in five years and is now the largest South Asian film festival in Europe. Festival Director Cary Sawhney says, “I think it’s been an amazing festival. We’ve grown by at least 30% this year and we’re getting global films! We’ve got Hollywood films in the festivals, Indian films, British films, Bangladeshi films, Pakistani films and it’s all happening in the heart of London, the only city where this kind of engaging range of cinema is embraced. It’s great!”

Highlights of the festival included the UK premiere of The Walt Disney Company’s Indian-themed Million Dollar Arm, followed by a Q&A by star Madhur Mittal and producer Mark Ciardi, Gillian Anderson who delivered a moving Q&A on opening night along with Jeffrey D Brown and Jane Charles and sold out screen talks and masterclasses at the British Film Institute delivered by Santosh Sivan ASC (The Terrorist) and Farhan Akhtar (Bhaag Milkha Bhaag).

FarhanAkhtar said, “The London Indian Film Festival is run by a group of passionate people and I think it is a great platform to share my experiences with aspiring filmmakers.”

LIFF 2014

‘Sold’ to open Indian Film Festival on 10 July

Sold  LIFFHard-hitting feature Sold will have its red carpet European Premiere at the opening of the Fifth annual London Indian Film Festival (10 – 17 July). Based on the bestselling novel Sold by Patricia McCormick, the film is a powerful drama based on real life events, and tells of a young Nepali girl’s struggle for survival after being sold into prostitution in Kolkata, and an American photographer (Gillian Anderson), who, against the odds, attempts to rescue her and other young women. The X Files and The Fall star Gillian Anderson is expected to participate in a Q&A in London at the film’s opening night amongst other talent.

Director Jeffrey D. Brown, Executive Producer Emma Thompson and Producer Jane Charles have worked tirelessly to bring this film to the screen researching every aspect of the story in depth with charities which deal directly with child trafficking in India including: Apne Aap, New Light, Sanlaap, Prajwala and in Nepal: Maiti Nepal, Shakti Samhua and Childreach International. Emma Thompson, president of the The Helen Bamber Foundation, works with survivors in London which is why she is informed on this issue and cares deeply about it.

The film is a collaboration between US and Indian production teams and includes supporting cast David Arquette (Conception) and Indian actors Seema Biswas (Bandit Queen), Parambrata Chatterjee (Apur Panchali), Tillotama Shome (Monsoon Wedding) and Susmita Mukherjee (Dostana). Debutante Niyar Saikia plays the central role of Lakshmi, the young girl from Nepal.

Now Europe’s largest platform for Asian cinema, the London Indian Film Festival returns to the Capital, celebrating Independent cinema and bringing to UK audiences a rare selection of cutting-edge films from some of India’s hottest independent talents. Going way beyond Bollywood, the festival presents a kaleidoscope of new films that challenge, shock, generate debate and present a more realistic view of India and the subcontinent today, in all its diversity.

The festival will open in the West End at the historic Cineworld Haymarket, and continue at BFI Southbank, ICA and Cineworld Cinemas around London. The festival is grant funded by the BFI Film Festival Fund.

About the screening, Executive Producer Emma Thompson comments: “It is wonderful to have our film premiered at London Indian Film Festival, to raise awareness of child-trafficking, which is an issue close to my heart and is shockingly on the increase world-wide. We hope that this film will make people think and highlight the support for key charities such as The Helen Bamber Foundation and others working in this difficult area in India, Nepal and elsewhere”

About the film, Actor Gillian Anderson states: “Working on this sensitively told film and with young women who have themselves experienced the un-believable trauma of abduction and trafficking has opened my eyes to the horrors these young people face on a daily basis as well as the often life threatening danger those working at the charities put themselves in to free these innocent victims from modern day slavery”

Cary Rajinder Sawhney, Festival Director comments: “We are delighted that the festival is growing from strength to strength and that we have Sold for our opening night. It is a film which is remarkable on many fronts not least its riveting script and direction, but also gripping performances by Indian and US actors especially lead actor Niyar Saikia who brings so much power and heartfelt pathos to the role as the resilient young girl protagonist Lakshmi”

LIFF 2014