phone mail2 facebook twitter play whatsapp
London Asian Film Festival: Interview with Pushpinder Chowdry
Image Credit: Bazodee

London Asian Film Festival: Interview with Pushpinder Chowdry

8 March 2017 Edd Elliott

The London Asian Film Festival returns this week for another packed programme of the best independent cinema from South Asia. We talk to the festival director Pushpinder Chowdry about the upcoming events, women in Asian film industry, and her hopes for the festival.

London Calling: Hi Pushpinder! Thank you for talking with us today. The London Asian Film Festival is just a few days away. Maybe for someone who hasn’t been to the London Asian Film Festival before, could you just explain what it is and what to expect?
 
Pushpinder Chowdry: It’s a very exciting film festival. It’s been going on for the last 19 years and we’ve been showing non-Bollywood, South Asian films – so this is basically independent films, British-Asian films, and international films made by Asians.
 
LC: This is the 19th London Asian Film Festival. What is new this year?
 
PC: We are going nationwide. We will have the best of the London Asian Film Festival going to Leicester and Edinburgh, taking independent cinema to other cities in the UK. This year is also 70 years of Indian independence. We are celebrating memories beyond borders and looking at the partition with Pakistan.
 
LC: The festival programme is a big mix of different genres, films for different ages, a few films like The Man Who Knew To Infinity and The Jungle Book that are British or US produced. What do you look for when selecting films?
 
PC: When we are selecting films, the most important thing to look at is that the film fits in with our theme. Also, that it is independent. We also look for good stories from round the world. This year’s theme, as I said, is 70 years of India’s independence. So our aim is to look at memories and people talking about their experience and sharing heritage.
 
LC: The Festivals opening gala is a screening of Mango Dreams. Could you tell us a little about the film and why you selected it for the opening gala?
 
PC: Mango Dreams is a film that really befits our festival and themes. The film is from the United States; it talks about the partition time. It’s a very good story about an elderly doctor who is now getting Alzheimers and wants to return and visit his home. But now it is in Pakistan.


Mango Dreams
 
LC: There are similar themes in the closing gala: a conversation with documentary filmmaker Sabiha Sumar and actress Kalki Koechlin on the topics of Indian-Pakistan relations.
 
PC: Our closing night is at BAFTA. We have invited Sabiha Sumar and she will screen her latest documentary and give some insight into how she made it. It’s a crowd funded documentary. The theme of the film is looking at the rise of fundamentalism in India and Pakistan, in the context of what is happening worldwide. We are also celebrating with a delicious meal. The evening will have networking opportunities and provide a chance to celebrate young filmmakers.
 
LC: Sabiha Sumar’s documentary – Azmaish: Trials of Life – is also trying to highlight the positive side of Indian-Pakistan relations, as well as the difficulties. Is that correct?
 
PC: I think the whole festival is based on the idea of what we share: we share memories, we share heritage. We also look at the shared heritage with the UK. It’s very much focused on how in the future we can work together and take forward and resolve the issues that do exist.
 
LC: Viceroy’s House is out at the moment and it also focuses on Indian independence and the partition with Pakistan. For most, particularly most white British people, it is through films like this that they experience South Asia on the big screen. How do you see the work of these films?
 
PC: I think they are definitely important films. Gurinda Chadha (the director of Viceroy’s House) is one of the guests at our closing gala. Not only are we looking at our main theme, we are also encouraging women filmmakers and helping provide a platform for them. Gurinda Chudha will be talking about her film. She will also be paying tribute to Om Puri, who is an international star from India. Our festival is not just about independent films, it is about giving a voice to women filmmakers. For us, this is a very important aspect of putting this festival on.
 
LC: If you were going to pick out a few films from the programme that might provide a good introduction to someone who maybe hadn’t seen much South Asian cinema before, what would they be?
 
PC: I would select Mango Dreams. The film has actually been directed by a white American (John Upchurch), so it will be very interesting to see his take on this particular film. Lipstick Under My Burkha, which is our closing night film, has the theme of women’s ambitions and aspirations, and is also looking at women’s sexuality. It would be a good film to introduce someone to our festival. But apart from just screenings there are lots of other events like Mushaira, looking at the part poetry and music play in our films. We’ve also got a new documentary from Deepa Mahta, which looks at the gang rape incident that occurred in India three years ago – it’s called Anatomy of Violence. This film, and a lot of our films, have an added event to them talking about gender equality and how it is dealt with in film and in wider culture. So beyond just screenings we have discussion and debate.

The London Asian Film Festival starts on 9 March and runs until 19 March, with select events after these dates. For a full list of screenings, see the London Asian Film Festival website.
 

Tell us what you think

You may also like

Festival of Film at the Royal Albert Hall

Festival of Film at the Royal Albert Hall

A season of gigs, screenings and talks celebrating the power of music in film

The Best Films in London this August

The Best Films in London this August

So, you’ve seen Dunkirk and Baby Driver and now you’re looking for something a little different? Our new feature rounds up the best independent cinema, film…

Win Film Tickets and Cocktails!

Rooftop Film Club - Win Film Tickets and Cocktails!

Watch Dunkirk, Wonder Woman, The Breakfast Club, or The Godfather on a London rooftop!

Try the New Restaurant Menu at London’s Iconic Icebar

Try the New Restaurant Menu at London’s Iconic Icebar

Hidden below the world-famous Icebar itself, the Icebar London restaurant promises a warm welcome, delicious seasonal menus and classic cocktails.

RCA Secret Returns for September 2017!

RCA Secret Returns for September 2017!

Snap up original postcard-sized artworks by new and internationally acclaimed artists, illustrators and designers!

Win Tickets to A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Strawberry Hill - Win Tickets to A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Watch cycling troupe The Handlebards perform one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies at Stawberry Hill House & Garden!

A Guide to London for Book Lovers

A Guide to London for Book Lovers

Every inch of London seems to have its own literary connection, whether it’s a famous resident author or a brilliant bookshop. So if you’re a book…

Win a 3 Course Meal for Two plus Cocktails!

Icebar - Win a 3 Course Meal for Two plus Cocktails!

Discover the capital’s coolest bar (-5°C to be precise!) and enjoy a delicious meal for two people.

King’s Cross Creative Quarter at London Design Festival!

King’s Cross Creative Quarter at London Design Festival!

Celebrate design, culture and creativity this September with the return of the King's Cross Creative Quarter.

Summer at Westminster Abbey

Summer at Westminster Abbey

Explore the wealth of activities taking place this summer at Westminster Abbey

Most popular

Win a Viennese Afternoon Tea for Two

The Delaunay - Win a Viennese Afternoon Tea for Two

Treat yourself to a relaxing afternoon tea with an Austrian twist at The Delaunay in Covent Garden.
Win a pair of weekend tickets to a music festival on Blackheath Common!

On Blackheath - Win a pair of weekend tickets to a music festival on Blackheath Common!

Travis, The Libertines and De La Soul all perform at this weekend festival on Blackheath Common.
Win Film Tickets and Cocktails!

Rooftop Film Club - Win Film Tickets and Cocktails!

Watch Dunkirk, Wonder Woman, The Breakfast Club, or The Godfather on a London rooftop!
Win Stephen King Tickets & Cocktails

BFI - Win Stephen King Tickets & Cocktails

Don’t miss the BFI’s tribute to The King of Horror this autumn!
Win Tickets to The Comedy About A Bank Robbery

Win Tickets to The Comedy About A Bank Robbery

We've got a pair of tickets to give away to this hilarious show.
Win Tickets to A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Strawberry Hill - Win Tickets to A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Watch cycling troupe The Handlebards perform one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies at Stawberry Hill House & Garden!
Win Tickets to a Bank Holiday Vaudeville Extravaganza!

Puttin' On The Ratz - Win Tickets to a Bank Holiday Vaudeville Extravaganza!

Puttin' On The Ratz is a glamourous vaudeville comedy cabaret set in the Golden Age of the 1930s.
Win two tickets to Britney Spears: The Cabaret

The Other Palace - Win two tickets to Britney Spears: The Cabaret

Australian performer Christie Whelan Browne takes her acclaimed show Britney Spears: The Cabaret to London for one week only.
Win Two Tickets to the Gladiator Games

Museum of London - Win Two Tickets to the Gladiator Games

Forget Westeros, it’s all about Londinium this summer!
Win 4 Tickets to The Night Pirates PLUS Ice Cream!

Rose Theatre Kingston - Win 4 Tickets to The Night Pirates PLUS Ice Cream!

Your chance to win a family ticket to a much-loved high seas adventure from Peter Harris and Deborah Allwright.

Your inbox deserves a little culture!!