Indian Film Festival 2021 is Back in Cinemas and Online

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The Multicultural Heartbeat of Melbourne is back in Cinemas from August 12 to 21, and Online from August 15 to 30.

What a year! It has been so far. We are like on repeat, start- stop-start, leaving us in disarray. Tired faces are peeking through the masks in trams, buses and trains; the tired city almost successful in pulling its weight of the masses. Everyone is looking for something, a good feel story, something inspiring, perhaps a glimmer of hope and that’s what exactly this story is all about – Indian Film Festival (FFM) 2021 is back in cinemas and online.

Though we will be missing the Stars, the glamour, the sounds and the diverse noise of Melbourne on the red carpet but it is the noise of the cinema corridors that will once again echo and that’s something to celebrate about. A sombre affair of the Festival returning to its roots – the cinemas in 2021. Following last year’s virtual success – reaching out to IFFM’s largest audience to date, IFFM 2021 is smart, innovative and hybrid. Given the current climate it too had to adapt to the new normality. We at G’day India and The Indian Weekly, are not only loud and proud of the Festival but we are also looking forward to the diverse community coming closer to what makes our beautiful city, Melbourne beat. The somatic (physical) Festival IFFM is 12th – 21ST August and the Virtual Festival kicks off, online on August 15 – August 30. Taking care of details that matter to many in these testing times has also been the focus of the Festival ensuring audiences around the country can join in and celebrate the best of contemporary Indian cinema, in the 75th year of Indian Independence.

More than 70 feature films, documentaries and shorts – the largest Festival of its kind in the southern hemisphere kicks off with the 2021 IFFM Opening Night film, Ajitesh Sharma’s WOMB (Women of My Billion).

WOMB translating to Women Of My Billion is an agonising and heartwarming documentary about the dreams and fight against violence in all forms that unify today’s women in India,
WOMB (Women of My Billion) follows one young woman, Srishti Bakshi, as she embarks on a monumental journey, walking nearly 4000 kilometres over 240 days, from Kanyakumari (South-India) to Kashmir (North). Along the way, she meets and learns first-hand about the experiences of women from all corners of the country.

Srishti Bakshi quotes: “Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation. since the outbreak of Covid-19 and the world locking down to live within four walls, emerging data and reports from those on the frontlines have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has only intensified. In this documentary, we have celebrated ordinary women who’ve shown extraordinary courage to rise above their limitations and challenge deeply entrenched gender norms. We did this to unite the majority because what we discovered was that ‘gender-based violence is a crime perpetrated by the minority but perpetuated by the silence of the majority.”

Producer Apoorva Bakshi, quotes, “We take great pride in presenting our film at IFFM as the opening night gala presentation and look forward to sharing it with audiences worldwide. This documentary not only presents facts but also highlights possible solutions which can be implemented today.”

IFFM 2021 will be across five key venues in Melbourne’s CBD and suburbs, while an extended virtual season will stream for free via the Festival’s website, iffm.com.au. Partnering with the Mental Health Foundation IFFM connecting to their audience and new viewers will be encouraged to donate to the organisation when they stream Festival films.

Every year the Festival celebrates the spirit of giving back with its ‘IFFM Hero’ celebrating by recognising community heroes who have contributed to or helmed projects that helped the Victorian. So, let us all celebrate and nominate the spirit of humanity. The festival director Mitu Bhowmick Lange in her own words, “After the unprecedented challenges faced over the last 18 months, we are excited to bring the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne back to the big screen, while our digital platform will ensure viewers around Australia can access the Festival too. In 2021, IFFM pays tribute to not only the best of Indian cinema, but to many of our COVID-19 heroes, offering vital community support, connection and hope in these challenging times.”

The most loving part of the Festival is bringing the community together on August 15 in celebrating India’s 75th year of Independence Day; at the melting point of all cultural diversities – Federation Square. We hope to see the Indian flag hoisting and swaying to all its glory, celebrating India along with everyone here in Melbourne. Also, part of this prestigious flag hoisting ceremony is the cultural festivities that we hope blossoms again with IFFM Indian Dance Competition; the community so eagerly waits for. It has definitely been a while since we have captured ourselves in that artistic vibe, especially here in Melbourne, much needed (now) most certainly than ever before.

In the coming weeks, we will bring you more news regarding the Festival until then stay tuned and embrace this new way of virtual realities.

As the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne is the southern hemisphere’s greatest annual celebration of Indian cinema and films from the Indian sub-continent. Established in 2010, it is recognised as an important feature of the State’s cultural calendar. IFFM is proudly supported by the Victorian Government via Film Victoria – principal partner of the Festival.

Caroline Pitcher, Film Victoria CEO quotes: “Film Victoria is proud to be the principal partner of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne. For over a decade, this incredible celebration of Indian film and culture has given Victorians the opportunity to engage with diverse and compelling screen stories, and it’s wonderful that this year we can come together both in cinemas across Melbourne and online.”

We at Indian Weekly and G’day India couldn’t be happier than to see a thriving conclave of artistic cinemas blending in with the much-needed hope that the arts world is looking for.

As a writer, I have been touched by what arts stand for, and artists across the world not only unified but stood in support of each other in this global pandemic. Creativity is sparked through curiosity; translating its own voice and with that in mind I cannot help myself from quoting the famous French artist Henri Matisse – “Creativity takes courage”.

By Nandita Chakraborty