3 World Premieres l 5 European Premieres l 12 UK Premieres

Europe’s largest South Asian film festival, the London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) celebrates its 15th birthday this year with a power-packed programme of features, shorts, series, gaming and XR across 6 UK cities (London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford and Liverpool).

The festival is supported by BFI, awarding National Lottery funding, and major partner The Bagri Foundation. This year’s lineup opens with the European Premiere of US indie, tear-jerker drama Paper Flowers, directed by Mahesh Pailoor (Brahmin Bulls), starring Deadpool’s Karan Soni amongst its stand-out young cast at Regent Street Cinema on 26th June.

Audiences can expect a heart-pounding finale on closing night, with a special preview of Lionsgate’s Kill. Produced by Bollywood icon Karan Johar (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai) of Dharma Productions, and Oscar-winning producer Guneet Monga (The Elephant Whisperers), this operatic action thriller will have viewers on the edge of their seats (think John Wick on a train). The cinematic spectacle, which is Lionsgate’s first foray into South Asian cinema, will be shown on the UK’s biggest cinema screen, the BFI IMAX, on 3rd July.

After successfully launching web series premieres last year, the festival is excited to bring you the first three episodes of Canadian series Late Bloomer. Audiences will be one of the first to watch this hilarious and heartfelt comedy, created by and starring social media star Jus Reign, which follows the adventures of a young Sikh millennial struggling to navigate the complexities of life while balancing his Eastern roots with Western ideals.

The festival is proud to also present two breakthrough feminist pieces, Sthal and Wakhri. Marathi language film Sthal, which won one of the top awards at the Toronto International Film Festival, follows a young woman’s quest for education and empowerment.

Through its subtle yet compelling storytelling, the film explores the importance of finding one’s voice and the struggles encountered along the path to freedom. Acclaimed filmmaker Iram Parveen-Bilal meanwhile, presents Wakhri, a tale inspired by real-life figures like Qandeel Baloch (Pakistan’s first social media celebrity) and tells the story of a teacher and mother whose progressive views thrust her into overnight fame. Faced with her newfound stardom and a growing backlash, she grapples with the challenges of trying to raise a son in a patriarchal world.

The captivating lineup of documentaries promise a cinematic journey through untold South Asian stories. Parama: A Journey with Aparna Sen celebrates the trials and achievements of India’s greatest female filmmaker – Aparna Sen and offers a retrospective of her illustrious six-decade long filmmaking career. Prepare to be inspired by World Premiere of UK-India co-pro Tight: The World of Indian Bodybuilding and dive into the world of Aji, a young bodybuilder from South India, who is on a quest to carve out his own niche in the ever-evolving landscape of competitive bodybuilding.

The festival’s features programme is brimming with innovative and unmissable films including Ennennum, a Kerala based relationship drama, dressed as a compelling sci-fi tale; while Kannada language award winner Mithya and Gujarati language Shunya, are tender yet powerful coming-of-age stories following child protagonists as they navigate a rapidly changing society. LIFF presents the World Premiere of UK production rom-com Before Nikkah, a charming getting-to-know-you-story about British Asians meeting on a first date, inspired by Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise.

The festival’s pioneering LGBTQIA+ film showcase, Too Desi Too Queer, returns with a fresh selection of groundbreaking and thought-provoking queer films. From heartwarming love stories to inspiring documentaries, these eye-opening shorts celebrate and amplify the voices of South Asian queer individuals.

The festival continues to champion a new generation of emerging South Asian filmmakers with both the internationally programmed Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition and the New Brit-Asian Shorts. The former, which was inspired by the humanist work of the legendary Indian filmmaker, offers five short films to be judged by a distinguished jury, with the winner receiving a £1,000 cash prize supported by Civic Studios. Previous winners include Saim Sadiq, director of Joyland, and Shubhashish Bhutiani, director of Hotel Salvation.

Over the course of its 15-year journey, LIFF (London Indian Film Festival) has transformed into far more than just a film festival, embracing a diverse array of moving image media. This year, we’re breaking new ground with our South Asian XR Showcase, curated by Taran Singh. Immerse yourself in a virtual world of South Asian stories and cutting-edge XR experiences at our Birmingham Indian Film Festival at Birmingham Open Media.

Setting up Europe’s first South Asian gaming showcase last year, the festival returns in partnership with FORMAT GG, to present a new South Asian Gaming Zone in Liverpool, curated by Simran Whitman and in partnership with Tulsea. Expect visiting game developers to attend this gaming night-life super event.

Our commitment to supporting South Asian arts reaches new heights as the Manchester Indian Film Festival launches with ‘Exploring The Legacy’. Prepare to be dazzled as we shine a spotlight on how South Asians have shaped British music, showcasing stories of boundary-breakers and cultural pioneers, and fostering greater representation in British music through the lens of film.

LIFF industry events this year include a partnership with a major business forum – India Week, where policy and business leaders discuss India’s place in the UK and the world. A new event in partnership with the festival is entitled The Film Conclave: Discussing the Business of Entertainment.

They’re also expanding accessibility for our Deaf and hearing-impaired audiences, with more screenings featuring BSL-interpreted Q&As across all our cities. LIFF is delighted to welcome back its major funders the Bagri Foundation and the BFI Audience Projects Fund, as well as additional support from Film Hub Midlands, Film Hub North, Birmingham City University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Bicester Village and others – their support enables these initiatives.

Speaking on the phenomenal growth of LIFF, CEO and Programming Director Cary Rajinder Sawhney said: “It’s been an incredible journey marking 15 years this year and we are delighted to expand into new UK cities, welcoming Bradford and Liverpool into our 6 city reach.

“It’s also personally exciting to have such a talented team and innovative partners, as we push ahead to explore new frontiers of South Asian gaming and XR scenes and continue our mission to showcase and celebrate emerging and established filmmakers, diversifying our offer to UK audiences.”

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