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Tuesday 11 August 2015

London Indian Film Festival 2015 My Highlights

Memorable moments from LIFF
If I could combine all my favourite pastimes they would come together and create the week that was this year's The Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival (LIFF). An opportunity to lose myself in stories, meet inspiring people and get dressed up: it was as perfect as a week can get.

Red carpet launch night (Pic by Calvin Chinthaka)
LIFF showcases independent cinema with a South Asian theme by curating a series of events, talks, Q&As and film screenings. This year marked their 6th festival and there were 20 films screened over two cities (London and Birmingham).  The festival opened with a Red Carpet event attended by filmmakers and film fans as well as many of the people involved in the selected films such as actors, directors and producers. Spot my lilac mop in the crowd? I covered the event for Asiana.tv, which you can watch here in this rather neat little video. More on who I interviewed later in this post...first I'm going to take you through the films I watched and reviewed, the Q&As I led, then later, touch on the outfits I wore (the most important bit!)

LIFF Films

The settings, characters and situations I encountered during the London Indian Film Festival had me feeling engrossed, emotional, shocked, happy, sad..captured in my reviews:

31st October 
A haunting account of a families fight for survival. See review.

Dhanak A sweet and tender reminder of why you should believe in your dreams. See review.

Khwada Step inside a world of solitude and sacrifice. See review.

One Crazy Thing London love, captured with humour and heart. See review. 

Tigers A compelling real-life account of the Nestle baby milk scandal. See review. 

A still from Nachom-Ia-Kumpasar

The Q&A element of a film festival is what makes them such a special and unique event. It's one thing to watch a film, but something else, to hear first-hand about the filmmaking process. It's an amazing opportunity that few movie watchers get, and until now, I've been in awe of these sessions. It always leaves me inspired to hear from Film Directors, actors and producers - you discover such unexpected tales. So when I was asked to lead four Q&As for LIFF I was thrilled; I wasn't just one of the people sitting in the audience learning stuff, I was able to play a role in shaping the Q&As. Wow!

Nachom-Ia-Kumpasar won the Audience Award at LIFF and in the festival's history is the most popular film to have been screened with three sold out showings. The final one took place at Wembley Cineworld and was attended by the film's Executive Producer and his wife who flew in from France to attend the screening. The crowd-funded film is a celebration of the Goa jazz scene of the 1960s and it includes 20 hit songs in the Goan language of Konkani.

The movie's Executive Producer and his wife

The auditorium stayed packed for the Q&A, people stayed behind even though it was a Monday night and they had just sat through an epic 2.45 hour film. This was my view from the stage - it looks intimidating but it wasn't because I knew that everyone in the audience loved the film and with so much passion in the air, nothing could go wrong.

Full house for the screening and post film Q&A
Still from One Crazy Thing

The Q&A for One Crazy Thing was attended by lead actor Ray Panthaki and Director Amit Gupta. A British romantic comedy set in London town, my favourite part of this Q&A was that there were several people in the audience who had never heard of the film, they just turned up to watch it as it sounded like something different. This is the great thing about film festivals they bring films to new audiences who otherwise wouldn't watch. 
Me & actor Ray Panthaki
Director Amit Gupta
Chilling in the BFI Green Room

The experience I'll never forget though is leading the Q&A for documentary Meet The Patels with Director Geeta Patel at the BFI, the BFI....the actual BFI aka the British Film Institute. An iconic building in an iconic part of London, representing everything that's iconic about cinema in the UK, it's going down in history as one of the highlights of my life : )
A comedy-documentary, there was lots of laughter in the audience throughout the film which led to a fun and lively Q&A.
On stage at The BFI with Director Geeta Patel

Afterwards there was a chance to pose with the wonderful BFI LIFF team and Geeta, who flew in from the US just for the screening, and was shortly heading off to take the film about her family, to another international festival.


With cameraman Shevy Sandhu aka Team Green

I love a spot of Red Carpet reporting. It's mad, hectic, tiring but really fun as you never know who you'll get to speak to, when they'll turn up and how long you'll get with them. Best of all, the people who do speak to you are usually in really good moods. Having a cameraman and fellow #TeamGreen member (we co-ordinated as every great team should) who's cool, calm and collected like Shevy from Polar Bear Media helped too. 
The stars being papped on the Red Carpet
With Presenter and LIFF Ambassador Shay Grewal
A montage of some of the people I interviewed

The festival opened with the movie Umrika and I had a chance to speak to Director Prashant Nair and actors Suraj Sharma (best know for being the boy in The Life Of Pie) and Adil Hussain. The montage above shows some of the other  talented filmi peeps I also interviewed. Watch our video here. 

Festival Director and Founder Cary Rajinder Sawhney also guested on my radio show where we had a much more in-depth chat. The highlights of which you can read about here. 

The LIFF Wembley team

I love this photo. It's a reminder of the really lovely LIFF volunteers who help run the festival. Passionate about film and all so friendly, I had such fun working and chatting with them, especially the Wembley crew who I spent three evenings with.
With Fariha at the closing night for the screening of Death Of A Gentleman
Spotted! My hair twin, burlesque star Sukki Singapora


It's not like I need an excuse to dress up, I do it for most occasions (aka leaving my flat!) but having a specific occasion is always must more exciting so just like the LIFF team curated the event, I curated my LIFF attending outfits. Considerations included tights:

....nail and bangle combinations

And numerous dresses! This was my absolute fave below. It was the first time I've ever 'borrowed' a frock, and ahem...I returned it with as massive rip in it..oops!
Find out more about it here...(a blog within a blog!)

Totally in love with my dress from Girl Meets Dress
For the launch night I had my make-up done, always a most luxurious of experience, especially when the make-up artist travelled across London especially for me. Thank you Fatin from Nina Ubhi Beauty & Hair Academy.

Beautified by Fatin from Nina Ubhi Beauty & Hair Academy
The rest of the week, I kept up the peacock theme. 

In fact I bought a new eyeshadow that I ended up wearing all festival.

Another make -up look
Told you it was a perfect week! 

Thank you to everyone I met over LIFF and to all the people who were involved in any capacity. It's a brilliantly curated festival. The only trouble is, now I want to visit India. Sounds like another trip is on the cards soon...

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