Fabulous south Asian features and shorts at this year’s London Film Festival Ariyippu
This year’s London Film Festival runs from October 5-16 and once again has a strong south Asian line-up, which touch upon diverse genres and have interesting storylines.
There will be cinema screenings, and some films will be available online. Eastern Eye looked ahead to the annual event, with a preview of the best south Asian films on show, which have English subtitles.
Thampu (The Circus Tent): There is a rare chance to see a restored version of the 1978 Malayalam language drama, which was screened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The story of a circus that comes to a small Keralas village has been described as an immersive and mesmeric Indian classic. The black and white film won multiple honours when it was originally released, including a National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam.
Joyland: The stunning Pakistani drama from writer-director Saim Sadiq had its world premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and won a prestigious jury prize. The Lahore-set Urdu language story revolves around a young man, with high expectations from his family, who falls in love with a transgender dancer. The taboo-busting film was particularly praised for the stunning lead performances.
All That Breathes: The visually captivating Hindi language documentary premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year to great acclaim and was also selected for a screening at the Cannes Film Festival a few months later, where it won awards. It follows two brothers struggling to run a homegrown hospital for birds in Delhi. They must deal with challenges that include extreme pollution and social unrest.
Ariyippu (Declaration): The 2022 Malalayam language drama had premiered at the 75th Locarno Film Festival in August. The pandemic-stricken times story revolves around a married couple working in dead-end factory jobs, dreaming of getting employment abroad, who must deal with a compromising video of them being circulated. The slice of life movie from writer-director Mahesh Narayanan received rave reviews across the board.
Faraaz: The Hindi and English film based on a real-life terrorist attack that ravaged a Dhaka café in 2016 is a tense hostage drama set over one claustrophobic night. Hansal Mehta has directed the taut action thriller, which stars Juhi Babbar, Aditya Rawal and Zahan Kapoor, and tackles multiple themes.
Meghdoot (The Cloud Messenger): The romantic drama, which is in English, Sanskrit and Malayalam, premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam earlier this year. The reimagining of an Indian myth revolves around two boarding school students inexplicably drawn to each other and how their relationship parallels the narratives woven into an ancient myth. The time transcending story written and directed by Rahat Mahajan uses multiple visual tools, including classical Indian dance.
Honey: This year’s festival has a group of short films being screened under the theme of Night Walks and Happy Never Afters, which revolves around brief encounters. It includes this 13-minute Bengali language short film about two childhood friends reuniting, to spend an evening together and finding deep feelings for one another.
Moshari: Another group of short films screenings from around the world are grouped under the title Feel the Rush of Adrenalin, which is about journeys altering the course of lives forever. The 21-minute Bengali language short film revolves around one girl venturing outside the safety of a traditional south Asian mosquito net and her sister being forced to face her demons.