The first Edinburgh Festival of Indian Films & Documentaries (EFIFD) sweeps across Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh from Wednesday 7th to Sunday 11th September 2016.Hosted by the Consulate General of India (Edinburgh), in association with the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, the five-day film festival features over 30 films and documentaries from the Indian sub-continent and is being showcased across four landmark city venues. According to Festival Director, Piyush Roy, “The film festival brings to Scotland for the first time, an eclectic cinematic selection from over five decades of Indian moviemaking, featuring a vibrant mix of themes ranging from histories and human drama, faiths and philosophies, music, magic, fine arts, popular culture, politics and personal stories.”
Complementing the screenings will be Q&A sessions with participating filmmakers, seminars and panel discussions with academic experts on cinema and South Asia, exhibitions and exciting live music performances of popular and classical Indian music. Among the guests are classical musician Marianne Svašek performing a Dhrupad recital, filmmaker Nila Madhab Panda (one of the youngest recipients of India’s civilian honour, the Padma Shri award) discussing his documentary God’s Own People (also making its UK premiere at EFIFD 2016) and Swaryatra, Edinburgh’s leading Indian film music group presenting a loving live tribute to its popular musical history. God’s Own People is an intimate document of human faith narrated as an epic cinematic story, exploring the bonds between the devotees and the divine through millennium old rituals at the largest pilgrim gathering of 21st century that happened in the Eastern Coastal Indian town of Puri in July 2015. Excited about the first ever Scottish debut of an Odia language film, Mr. Panda said, “I am very pleased to have our film God’s Own People being showcased at the Edinburgh Festival of Indian films and documentaries. It is a moment of pride to have it as the festival’s opening film.”
The festival’s highlight is the participation, and a retrospective of some classic Indian arthouse films featuring legendary Indian actor, Om Puri, in the lead.Om Puri’s contributions and influence extend far beyond India, where Ardh Satya (Half Truths) remains to date, the biggest art house cinema blockbuster in Indian film history. He is equally known for his work in English films (East is East, West is West, My Son The Fanatic, Gandhi, Wolf, Charlie Wilson’s War, 100 Foot Long Journey), and has received an OBE for his contribution to British cinema. One meaningful aim of the festival is to celebrate and enhance the cultural connection between India and Scotland, and the UK. Om Puri’s presence will be a fantastic way to honour this connection – his retrospective will include the Bollywood Curry Western, China Gate, the critically acclaimed contemporary Basu Bhattacharya classic, Aastha: In the Prison of Spring, Ardh Satya and the rarely available early Indian New Wave cinema classic, Susman (Essence), personally sourced by Om Puri from its director, Shyam Benegal.
Finally, making their UK premieres at EFIFD 2016 are three exciting new features from three regional Indian language cinema industries in tandem with the festival’s focus on highlighting the other movie making industries in India, beyond Bollywood. These are:
– Nachom-ia Kumpasar: A Konkani love story set in the 1960s, directed by Bardroy Barretto, this UK premiere at EFIFD celebrates Goa’s unique musical legacy shaped by Portuguese influences.
– Shaheb Bibi Golaam: A riveting new age Bengali drama set in Kolkata featuring a contract killer, a housewife and a taxi driver in an unusual game of chance and revenge by critic turned filmmaker Pratim D. Gupta.
– Ekk Albela: Set in the Hindi film industry’s golden era of the 1940s and 50s, this acclaimed Marathi biopic by Shekhar Sartandel (featuring Vidya Balan) profiles its first male action hero and dancing star, Bhagwan Dada.
The 2016 Edinburgh Festival of Indian Films & Documentaries will be a week of memorable movie memories with some of the most sterling films from Planet Earth’s most prolific cinema industry.
The festival’s event listings, film trailers and links for ticket purchases can be found at the official EFIFD Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EFIFD
Follow EFIFD on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EFIFD
EFIFD 2016 Trailer: https://youtu.be/5HlkOvFQDbg
This post was written by Piyush Roy.
Piyush is a PhD candidate in South Asian Studies at the University of Edinburgh. He is a film studies scholar and has won the Best Film Critic (Special Mention) Award at the 60th Indian National Film Awards in 2013.