COVID-19: London Indian Film Festival takes short film competition online

Aditi Khanna

London, May 15 (PTI) The London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) has taken its Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition online as part of a hybrid solution for the annual festival as cinemas remain closed during the coronavirus lockdown.

LIFF, backed by the British Film Institute (BFI) and Bagri Foundation, will showcase its nine award-winning short films that reflect the focus and ethos of Ray’s filmmaking passion online from this week.

The films, created for the competition in memory of the iconic Indian filmmaker, will mark the launch of the online version of the festival for viewing at home at loveliffathome.com.

“On the 99th birth anniversary month of the world's most loved Indian director Satyajit Ray, it seems almost a tryst with destiny to be able to show, for the first time, all the winners together of the renowned Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition, that the Ray family kindly supported because the films must enshrine Ray's empathetic vision of humanity,” said Cary Rajinder Sawhney, Executive and Programming Director of the festival.

“Several of these younger filmmakers, talent spotted by the festival, have gone onto very great things. Given the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival's championing of torch bearing and rare independent films and emerging filmmakers it seems right for us to launch our new online platform with these bright cinematic gems,” he said.

As the coronavirus lockdown continues in the UK, the festival is being supported by an Audience Award from BFI, using the UK’s National Lottery funds, and the Bagri Foundation to develop a new part-digital and part cinema-based model strategy, which will be rolled out this year and into the future.

The festival team said that South Asian filmmakers have already rallied to support this online initiative, which is helping LIFF offer the festival for free for a limited time.

Ben Luxford, Head of BFI Audiences, said: “We are delighted to support LIFF’s ambitious plans to present the festival online and, by doing so, ensure that this year’s programme of South Asian cinema reaches an even wider audience, starting with a unique opportunity to see the winners of the Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition over the last nine years.” Alka Bagri, Trustee of the Bagri Foundation, added: “These films display a realist quality that provides a rare glimpse into the private lives of those longing for love, dealing with family struggles or just surviving day to day. We are thrilled to support this endeavour.” Working with New Zealand’s Shift 72, a new UK geo-blocked platform has opened with the past Satyajit Ray competition winners, including films by Indian directors Neeraj Ghaywan and Shubashish Bhutiani. This will be followed up with a host of feature films being launched over the coming weeks and months. PTI AK RUP RUP

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