London Indian Film Festival concludes with awards and success

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The 15th annual festival Closed with celebrity appearances, a Lionsgate picture and awards

Europe’s largest South Asian film festival, The London Indian Film Festival (LIFF), celebrated its closing night by showcasing its commitment to highlighting the talent of South Asian individuals through its awards and record-breaking success.

This year LIFF handed its prestigious ICON award (an award presented to artists and filmmakers who have excelled in their craft) to the legendary Shyam Benegal.

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Benegal, widely considered to be one of the best filmmakers of the 1970s and a pioneer of ‘parallel cinema’ also gave a live talk this year at LIFF exploring his 62-year-long career. His award pays tribute to his work which has consistently highlighted the richness of South Asian society.

Pictured Left to Right: BFI CEO, Ben Roberts and LIFF CEO Cary Rajinder Sawhney.Pictured Left to Right: BFI CEO, Ben Roberts and LIFF CEO Cary Rajinder Sawhney.
Pictured Left to Right: BFI CEO, Ben Roberts and LIFF CEO Cary Rajinder Sawhney.

Further to the ICON Award, LIFF presented the annual Audience Award as well as The Satyajit Ray Short Film Award.

The Audience Award, which was decided by attendees throughout LIFF (from June 26 – July 3), was presented to Jayant Digambar Somalkar for his work with the film Sthal (A Match). The film, which has already won awards, including the NETPAC award at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, is in Marathi language and is a gently powerful exploration on the rights of young women in today's village India, exemplifying a love letter to the indomitable nature of the human spirit.

Somalkar spoke on receiving his award and the joy of working with LIFF, stating: "Thank you so much to the entire programming team and the wonderful London audience. I am honoured by the immense love, admiration, and support for my film 'Sthal'. For an audience to love and appreciate the film is the best possible validation, because they are the ones a filmmaker creates for."

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The Satyajit Ray Short Film Award, which was presented by LIFF sponsor, Civic Studios, aims to align with the eponymous director’s humanist vision and support of films that explore issues within the South Asian community. The Clown, which explores the intersectionality of femininity and race, was selected as the winner by a panel of judges for its compelling narrative, and its director Kamil Chima has been awarded a £1,000 cash prize.

Chima commented on both his award and partnership with LIFF, stating: “It is such a proud moment for everyone on the team to win The Satyajit Ray Short Film Award competition at LIFF 2024. It takes a village to raise a film, and I am grateful for the time and effort every single person put into making this vision come to life.

To have a story from the streets of Lahore resonate with audiences and juries in London is a testament to the talent and potential in Pakistani cinema, and makes me excited to be a part of the amazing community of South Asian filmmakers that are rising and rising.”

The closing ceremony also saw the European premiere of Kill, directed by Nikhil Nagesh Bhat and produced by acclaimed Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar (Dharma Productions) and Guneet Monga (Sikhya Entertainment) at the BFI IMAX on June 3.

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The film has already been picked up globally, already confirmed to have an English language remake, and will open on nearly 250 screens across the United Kingdom starting July 5th, marking a significant milestone for Hindi language cinema and the South Asian community.

A host of British Asian talent graced this year's closing-night red carpet at the UK’s biggest screen, adding their charisma to the festival's vibrant atmosphere. Notable attendees included Taha Shah Badussha, known for his breakout role in Netflix’s Heermandi, as well as the acclaimed actor Aparshakti Khurana, celebrated for his versatile acting and memorable roles in films and series such as Jubilee and Dangal.

Additional guests included a host of British Asian talent across various forms of media such as news, fashion and more, highlighting LIFF's appeal as a gathering for diverse talents from both the entertainment industry and the South Asian community.

Cary Rajinder Sawhney, CEO of LIFF, expressed his enthusiasm about this year's festival: “We are thrilled with the overwhelming response to the films this year and the recognition with the ICON Award, The Audience Award, and The Satyajit Ray Short Film Award. These films exemplify the diversity and talent within Indiancinema, and resonate deeply with our audience. The success of this year’s LIFF truly marks the growing global influence of South Asian storytelling, and the power of cultural festivals like this in amplifying these narratives on an international stage”.

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Additionally, Ben Roberts, CEO of the British Film Institute (BFI), one of the festival’s principal sponsors, also commented on the festival’s impact: "LIFF continues to be a vital platform for promoting cultural exchange through cinema. The success of these films reflects the growing global influence of Indian film making. As a major sponsor of LIFF, the BFI plays a crucial role in supporting cultural events that celebrate diverse voices and narratives.

"Their partnership underscores the importance of fostering dialogue and understanding through cinema, enriching cultural exchange both locally and on a global scale."

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