LGBTQ Films featured at 2016 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles
Homosexuality is still illegal in India, and punishable by up to 10 years in prison. LGBTQ citizens face harassment, extortion, and exile based on their lifestyle. This prejudice is also felt in the filmmaking community, where forward-thinking filmmakers are at risk of having their films banned, edited, or unfairly rated if they have LGBTQ themes.
This year, the 14th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) features three prominent LGBTQ films showing a rarely-seen side of Indian cinema and culture.
The critically acclaimed ALIGARH, directed by Hansal Mehta, tells the story of Professor Ramchandra Siras, who was suspended from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in 2010 after he was filmed having consensual sex with a man. The film was given a restrictive “A” (adults only) rating by the censor board due to its LGBTQ theme, hugely limiting it's marketing outreach, and a successful campaign was launched to cancel the screening of the movie in Aligarh because conservative forces thought it would sully the name of the town.
THE THRESHOLD, directed by Nishant Roy Bombarde, centers around an adolescent torn between his traditional Indian upbringing and his budding sexuality, a subject still taboo in mainstream Indian cinema.
And finally, ANGRY INDIAN GODDESS which initially plays like a straight comedy about a diverse group of women bonding on a trip to a friend’s wedding, but subverts expectations with a delightful twist at the end when we find out who their friend is actually going to marry.
IFFLA is the premiere South Asian film festival outside of India and showcases the top Indian films. Having three films that deal with a taboo subject in India and that have gained popularity and critical acclaim internationally is a telling tale for the changing film market in India and how filmmakers are breaking barriers. IFFLA programmers can talk further about this industry change and the positive impact it is having on the India film market and the fresh voices coming out of India.
ALIGARH India/2015/114min/DCP/Hindi Los Angeles Premiere Director: Hansal Mehta (IFFLA alum)
Logline: The true story of Dr. Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, a linguistics professor at Aligarh Muslim University whose outing and threatened termination caused an uproar.
ANGRY INDIAN GODDESSES India/2015/115min/DCP/Hindi and English U.S. Premiere Director: Pan Nalin
Logline: When an eclectic group of women gathers to celebrate the impending nuptials of a close mutual friend, sparks fly as they each discover the power - and the fury - of the angry goddesses that lie within.
When a successful but frustrated photographer, a wannabe Bollywood actress, a high-flying workaholic executive and mother, a struggling musician, a prudish princess and a housekeeper with a dark secret all gather together in a quaint Portuguese villa in Goa on the eve of the host’s wedding, no subject is off limits for this spirited group of women. Love, sex, careers, marriage, friendship, sexism and the benefits of a super hot next-door neighbor are all up for debate. But it is ultimately tragedy and the power of unity in the face of institutional misogyny that binds these women together forever in this joyful yet powerful dramedy from 2014 IFFLA Audience Award winning director Pan Nalin (FAITH CONNECTIONS).
Screened in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, ANGRY INDIAN GODDESSES takes a refreshingly uncensored look at the issues facing women in contemporary Indian society while celebrating the uniqueness, talents and flaws of each of its female characters.
DAARAVTHA (The Threshold) India/2016/30min/DCP/Marathi U.S. Premiere Director: Nishant Roy Bombarde
Logline: Torn between a patriarchal Indian upbringing and his natural urge to identify with the opposite gender, an adolescent boy discovers his sexuality.
About IFFLA Now in its 14th year, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) is a nonprofit organization devoted to a greater appreciation of Indian cinema and culture by showcasing films and promoting the diverse perspectives of the Indian diaspora.
The five-day festival is the premiere platform for the latest in cutting-edge global Indian cinema and bridges the gap between the two largest entertainment industries in the world – Hollywood and India. The festival will showcase more than 25 films from the Indian filmmaking community across the globe, host the highly anticipated Opening and Closing red carpet Galas, and the Closing Awards ceremony.