Birmingham Indian Film Festival returns

Six venues, eleven days, unforgettable performances.

Birmingham Indian Film Festival, part of Europe’s largest South Asian film festival, returns to the Midlands with an exciting programme of screenings and events for 11 days from 27th June–7th July.

BIFF venue partners for 2024 include mac Cinema & Theatre, Cineworld Broad Street, Mockingbird Cinema, Light Cinema, Walsall, BOM and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire at Birmingham City University. The Festival is supported by BFI, awarding National Lottery funding and major partner Bagri Foundation.

The festival features Midland premiere screenings, a wide range of post-show talks with directors and cast members, an internationally programmed film competition, an LGBTQIA+ film showcase, and cutting-edge XR experiences. This year, the festival will provide more BSL screenings than ever before.

The opening night gala at mac Theatre is the Midlands premiere of US indie tear-jerker drama Paper Flowers, starring Deadpool’s Karan Soni as well as a stand-out young cast. The evening ends with a post-show Q&A with director Mahesh Pailoor.

After successfully launching web series premieres last year, the festival is excited to be screening the first three episodes of Canadian series Late Bloomer. Audiences will be among the first in the UK to see this heartfelt comedy, created by and starring social media star Jus Reign (Jasmeet Singh Raina), which follows the adventures of a young Sikh millennial struggling to navigate the complexities of life while balancing his Eastern roots with Western ideals.

The festival will also present two breakthrough feminist pieces, Sthal and Wakhri. The Marathi language film Sthal, which won one of the top awards at the Toronto International Film Festival, follows a young woman’s quest for education and empowerment. Through its subtle yet compelling storytelling, the film explores the importance of finding one’s voice and the struggles encountered along the path to freedom.

Acclaimed filmmaker Iram Parveen Bilal, meanwhile, presents Wakhri, a tale inspired by real-life figures like Qandeel Baloch (Pakistan’s first social media celebrity). The moving film tells the story of a teacher and mother whose progressive views thrust her into overnight fame. Her newfound stardom sees her facing a growing backlash, as she grapples with the challenges of trying to raise a son in a patriarchal world.

The festival’s features programme features innovative films including Kannada language award-winner Mithya and Gujarati language Shunya, which are both tender yet powerful coming-of-age stories following child protagonists as they navigate a rapidly changing society. BIFF presents the Midlands premiere of UK production rom-com Before Nikkah, a charming story about British Asians meeting on a first date, inspired by Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise.

The festival’s pioneering LGBTQIA+ film showcase, Too Desi Too Queer, returns with a fresh selection of groundbreaking and thought-provoking queer films. From heartwarming love stories to inspiring documentaries, these eye-opening shorts celebrate and amplify the voices of South Asian queer individuals.

The festival has transformed beyond film as it embraces a diverse array of moving image media. This year, BIFF will be following up its foray into immersive experiences with a South Asian XR Showcase, curated by Birmingham’s Taran Singh who helped make a 3D design of Perry the Commonwealth Games mascot. This free event is a virtual world of South Asian stories and cutting-edge XR experiences and will take place at BOM.

Closing the Festival at Lighthouse Cinema, Walsall is Queen of my Dreams, directed by Fawza Mirza and starring Amrit Kaur, Hamza Haq, and Nimra Bucha. In this colourful and song-soaked delight of a film, young Pakistani woman Azra lives an alternative lifestyle with her white female friend in Toronto, which is worlds apart from her conservative Muslim mother’s traditional values.

Speaking on the growth of BIFF, CEO and Programming Director Cary Rajinder Sawhney remarked: “It’s personally exciting to have such a talented team and innovative partners, as BIFF push ahead to explore new frontiers of South Asian XR scenes and continue our mission to showcase and celebrate emerging and established filmmakers, diversifying our offer to Midlands audiences with continued support from Film Hub Midlands and Birmingham City University.”

For full programme listings and information on how to book, go to birminghamindianfilmfestival.co.uk.

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