Winners Announced at UK Asian Film Festival Closing Flame Awards Gala

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London Desk : UK Asian Film Festival 2019 has been running in five cities across the UK, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leicester, London and Manchester, from 27th March continuing till 4th May 2019, supported by the BFI with National Lottery funding and Regional Screen Scotland.

At a time of significant change ,UK Asian Film Festival this year marked its 21st anniversary with a curation inspired by the theme of Revolution. Historically known as Tongues on Fire and then London Asian Film Festival, the festival is also synonymous with championing South Asian feminist films and supporting pioneering, female artists and auteurs.

Honouring Revolution through the vehicle of South Asian Cinema, UK Asian Film Festival looked at the #MeToo movement gathering momentum in the Indian and Pakistani film industries and the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the repeal of Section 377 in India last year. The festival celebrated pioneering icons from South Asian cinema and presented a series of milestone films that signify society-led change. The Opening Gala Launch on Wednesday 27th March, The May Fair Hotel welcomed one of the most revolutionary actresses in the history of Indian cinema, Zeenat Aman.

In her keynote speechat the Closing Flame Gala Awards, actress Shabana Azmi said, “I look at the festival programme and see that 34 films are made by women. That’s really quite a record number. I have always wondered why women filmmakers have resisted the prefix ‘women filmmakers’, because I believe the fact that they are women should inform their gaze. I’m not saying the subject, they can make thrillers, murder mysteries and romantic films. But the fact that they are women, I hope would inform their gaze. Diversity is one of the most urgent themes of our times, we need to celebrate that and what better a forum to do it through than films? I believe that all arts, particularly films, have the possibility of creating a climate of sensitivity in which it is possible for change to occur. It’s important, as Asians, that we are able to watch our own films, tell our own stories and celebrate the diversity that we have today.”

“To be responsible for festivals like this, reaching even newer heights and making sure that more British Asian filmmakers are nurtured and supported. As patrons, I hope you will encourage more people to come and watch these films, as supporters I hope you will recognise how important it is to celebrate festivals of this kind and help them grow.”

About the festival, film director Ramesh Sippy said,“They have come a long way and seem to be growing bigger and better, with smaller, nicer films and all those lovely films that we may not otherwise get to see. Once films like this come into the limelight and they can do even bigger work.”

In conversation onstage, actress Radhika Apte explained, “As an actor, to be able to portray different things and go into those uncomfortable spaces and try to do things is very challenging. There are so many things that don’t agree with me in the industry and in the world but I think you need to choose your battles and when you gain a little more power there’s something you can do about that. You should make sure, when you have the authority, that you are making something happen.”

Speaking about the festival, Dr, Pushpinder Chowdhry MBE, Festival Director said, “Our vision is to change societal taboos through conversation prompted by cinema and make independent South Asian films and talent accessible to all UK wide audiences. We now kickstart our out-of-festival programming with a number of free screenings and events from May to July that will offer an alternative gaze in to South Asian cinema.”

Speaking about the festival’s Young Curator Lab and Youth Gala and Young Critics Vote for the Short Film Competition, Samir Bhamra, Creative Director, UK Asian Film Festival said,“We embarked on an epic journey to find diverse young people from all over the UK and listened to their interests. To train them and then to give them control to curate a section of our festival programme and to judge our competition.”

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