Two Outstanding Films Addressing Disability and Gender Equality Streaming October 23 as the Opening Night Films of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne

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Festival dates: October 23 – 30

Vidya Balan’s NATKHAT and Nachiket Samant HABADDI will be available to stream on October 23 as the opening night films of the Indian Film Fes<val of Melbourne. Over 7 days the festival will screen over 60 films in 17 languages, including 34 International Premieres and 56 Australian Premieres, available to audiences across Australia as this year’s festival moves online.

IFFM Festival Director, Mitu Bhowmick Lange: “Indian filmmakers – from independent short filmmakers to our most powerful directors – turn their gaze to issues of freedom and equality in the contemporary world and celebrate the diversity that defines us all. Film is a powerful way to bring people together be they si@ng in a packed cinema or in
2020, in their own homes.”

All films will be available for viewing free of charge across Australia from October 23 to 30. in recognition of the pressures this year has placed on many people, IFFM is partnering with Mental Health Foundation Australia and encourages festival participants to donate to MHF when booking.

Chairperson, Vasan Srinivasan said :“The world of cinema is one that can bring joy. Sometimes sitting down and watching a film, is a great way to practice self-care and promote mental wellbeing. This is what the Mental Health Foundation Australia is all about. Cinema has the power to unite, and I wish the IFFM team all the very best in their
venture to do so.’’

Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson said: “The Victorian Government is proud to support the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne. Each year the festival showcases the breadth and depth of Indian cinema and gives a platform for new talent through the short film competition. This year the festival is taking the celebrations to a new level,
opening up access to film lovers across the country through this incredible – and free – online program.”

NATKHAT (transl The Brat) is a 25-minute film produced and starring Vidya Balan. One of India’s most powerful and acclaimed actors, widely recognised as pioneering a change in the portrayal of women in Hindi Cinema, Balan plays an abused mother teaching her son about gender equality and empathy through the telling of a simple bedtime story.

“Natkhat makes you confront the reality that most women in this country live on a day to day basis and how we are bringing up children and how if we want to see a change, we have to bring up our children differently.” – Vidya Balan

The delightful feature HABADDI focuses on Kabaddi a popular contact sport in Southern Asia that first originated in Ancient India. When the news of his village’s Kabbadi team travelling to Mumbai breaks out a 10-year-old boy with a speech impediment sees the opportunity to meet the girl he adores. But will he be able to chant kabbadi kabbadi
without stammering?

“The story is loosely based on my adopted brother who grew up as an orphan, devoid of social skills and confidence, but with an immensely inquisitive and inventive mind who loved to take apart and put together any gadget in sight. So I developed an Oliver Twist like orphan who because of the bullying he encounters, has developed superior agility on
one side and stuttering speech on the other. The unique sport of Kabaddi requires both- fluent speech as well as speed. This is how we arrived at the story of a ‘broken boy’ who has a knack for mending broken things and by extension his broken life.” Director Nachiket Samant

The 2020 Fes’val features five dynamic program streams of new and classic films from India and the subcontinent. ‘Hurrah Bollywood’, the best mainstream Hindi cinema from the last twelve months; ‘Beyond Bollywood’, art house and cinema in regional Indian languages; ‘Films from the Subcon’nent’, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal; ‘Film India World’, focussing on Indian films that cross international borders, and the Documentary section including a number of critically acclaimed documentaries. Stand out highlights include the micro-budgeted, guerilla-filmed noir, LORNI THE FLANEUR; THE ILLEGAL, “a timely film about immigrants in the U.S” (Variety); RUN KALYANI, a poetic and realist drama about duties, dreams and desires which opened the 2019 New York Indian Film Festival; THE MIS EDUCATION OF BINDU, a beautifully rendered dive into the peculiar and chaotic world of teenagers, and MOTI BAGH, a documentary based on the struggle of a farmer in a remote Himalayan village, which is India’s Official entry in this year’s Oscars.

To view the Festival program, and for booking guidelines go to Iffm.com.au