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:: Spotlight :: 2013 Indian Film Festival of Melbourne

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) was recently launched in Bombay by Louise Asher, the Victorian Minister for Innovation, Services and Small Business. Taking place from May 3-15 in the centenary year of Indian cinema, this year’s festival celebrates the rich history of Indian cinema, pays tribute to one of its masters, and presents its biggest ever program of films across five Melbourne screens including new screen partner, ACMI.

The festival is delighted to announce a number of India’s biggest stars as special guests. The stellar list includes Pamela Chopra, wife of Yash Chopra; Festival ambassador and Indian superstar, Vidya Balan; the Indian god of dance, actor and film maker Prabhudeva; legendary choreographer and filmmaker Farah Khan; the remarkable Simi Garewal, dubbed the Oprah of India; film directors Kabir Khan and Onir; and Avtar Panesar, Vice president of Yash Raj Films. Australian filmmaker Penny Vozniak is bringing her documentary, Despite The Gods. Masterclasses with festival guests are a not to be missed opportunity for local filmmakers to learn from these remarkable film industry figures.

IFFM opens on May 3 with a screening of the silent film Raja Harishchandra 100 years to the day since its first screening marked the birth of Indian cinema, “We are really delighted to open the festival with a screening of this treasured film”, said festival director Mitu Bhowmick Lange.

The centenary celebrations continue with ‘100 Years of Indian Film’ a program of 15 classic films at new screen partner, ACMI opened by Farha Khan on March 4 and including Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, Sholay, which spawned the “curry western” genre, Achut Kanya, made in 1936 and based on India’s caste system, the comedy drama 3 Idiots and Palme D’or nominee, Garam Hawa.

This year IFFM pays a special tribute to legendary filmmaker and festival patron Mr Yash Chopra in recognition of the unique contribution he has made to Indian and world cinema. It is an honour to have Mrs Pamela Chopra, visiting Melbourne to accept a lifetime achievement award for her late husband. The award acknowledges his contribution to film and his special relationship with Victoria. The festival will pay rich tribute to the legendary filmmaker, including screening his final film Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Mrs Chopra will officially opening the newly renovated cinema at La Trobe University, now renamed Yash Chopra Cinema.

Turning its focus to contemporary India, IFFM presents three dynamic program streams of new films from India and the subcontinent. “We set out to take viewers on a journey from the beginning of Indian filmmaking through some of the century’s highlights and arriving at a selection of the finest new films made in the last 12 months,” said Bhowmick-Lange.

‘Hurrah Bollywood!’ features the best mainstream Hindi cinema from the last 12 months including Barfi starring Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Talaash and Kabir Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger; ‘Beyond Bollywood’ features arthouse and cinema in regional Indian languages. Not to be missed highlights include Kurmavatara (Kannada) / Anhey Ghorey Da Daan (Punjabi), Delhi In A Day, Kai Po Che and I.D., the feature debut of Collective Phase One, a six-strong collective of filmmakers and producers and part of India’s new wave. A program specially curated for the Festival by acclaimed New Wave filmmaker Onir, features films from the sub continent including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. Closing the festival is the Australian premiere screening of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, directed by Mira Nair which was selected to open the Venice Film Festival.

IFFM offers a window into the future of filmmaking with screenings of winners and finalists in the Western Union short film competition open to filmmakers from India, Australia and New Zealand.

The colour and rhythm of Bollywood is expressed most clearly in its dancing. Audiences can take a break from the cinema and join in the Bollywood Dance Competition at Federation Square on May 4, judged by legendary choreographer and filmmaker, Farah Khan and chief guest, the Indian god of dance, Prabhudeva.

For bookings and information go on;ine

For more information, visit

www.iffm.com.au