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London Film Festival 2015: New treatments, old ailments

London Film Festival 2015: New treatments, old ailments

September 2 2015

The largest festival of its kind in the UK and as always there’s an eclectic collection of films on offer for the asian culture vulture…

DEEPA MEHTA’S “Beeba Boys” and a documentary about Malala Yousafzai, the famous children’s rights campaigner are the pick of the South Asian perspective films at this year’s London Film Festival (October 7-18).

One of the first films to document the Indian gay experience and receive international recognition also comes to the festival in the shape of the film, “Aligarh”; in a similar vein, “The New Classmate” challenges social orthodoxy when a mother joins her daughter at school.

Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner “Dheepan” about an unorthodox Sri Lankan ‘family’ trying to rebuild their lives in France, gets a UK premiere.

He Named Me Malala

French-Indian production, “Sunrise” perhaps shows perhaps the future of Indian indie filmmaking as French Jean-Marc Ferriere shoots and Partho Sen-Gupta directs Adil Hussain and Tannishstha Chatterjee in a tense child trafficking noir thriller. was at the launch for the 2015 London Film Festival at the Leicester Square Odeon, London yesterday and heard Amanda Nevill, chief executive of the British Film Institute (BFI) and Clare Stewart, creative director of the festival, unveil the full programme.

As well as previous announcements about the opening gala film – “Suffragette”, about the fight for equality and women’s voting rights in Britain in the first part of the 20th century and the closing gala – “Steve Jobs”, on the mercurial founder of Apple, Stewart revealed highlights from the 238 feature film list; and trailers were screened. The festival is divided into specific categories, outside of the gala presentations and films in competition (both fiction and documentaries). Among the prominent are: love, debate, dare, laugh, thrill and debate.

Beeba Boys” gets a Thrill Gala Presentation and centres around a violent and stormy turf war between two Sikh gangs fighting for control of the Vancouver drugs market. An international star cast headed by Bollywood hard man, Randeep Hooda and supported by the original Bollywood bad man, Gulshan Grover and international celebrity and model, Waris Ahulawalia, it’s billed as a pulsating “Post-Tarantino” ride that mixes traditional family values with modern imperatives and aesthetics. Mehta has never been one to be cowed by controversy.


Malala Yousafzai is one of the most famous children on the planet, especially after she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Indian children’s rights campaigner, Kailash Satyarthi last year, but just how much do we know about the girl who was almost murdered by the Taliban.

In “He named me Malala”, director Davis Guggenheim films the teenager’s family at work and play. It is an intimate portrait of a young girl, who has a very public face, but is also on the cusp of womanhood and the challenges it brings as she settles with her family in their new Birmingham, Midlands home. It features as a special documentary presentation at LFF.

Away from the glare of the featured presentations are “Guilty” with Irrfan Khan in a leading role, “The New Classmate”, “Sherpa”, a restored version of Mira Nair’s 1998 classic “Salaam Bombay” and the new “Aligarh”.

The New Classmate

Directed by Hansal Mehta, and starring Manoj Bajapayee and Rajkummar Rao, it is described by South Asian LFF programmer and director of the London Indian Film Festival (LIFF), Cary Rajinder Sawhney as “probably the best film yet on the Indian gay male experience”.

It examines what happens when a scandal breaks as a university lecturer is photographed in bed with another man and various forces, some quite unexpectedly, line up to defend or attack him.

Equally challenging from Indian perspectives is “The New Classmate”, which explores class and social expectations in modern India.

Featured in the Journey section, mother Chanda and daughter Apeksha are close after the death of the older woman’s husband.

Chanda does not want Apeksha to follow in her footsteps and become a maid but the young girl has other ideas and falls into a bad crowd, prompting her mother to attend the same school to get her daughter back on track.


Sherpa” is featured in the documentary competition section and looks at the lives of those who assist and enable the Everest industry to flourish. British filmmaker Jennifer Peedom turns the spotlight on this ethnic group, shortly after 14 Sherpas die in one of the deadliest ever avalanches on the feared mountain.

Among the pick of the other films to be shown at LFF are “Carol”, “Trumbo”, “Black Mass”, “The Lady in the Van” and both comedian Russell Brand and idiosyncratic documentary maker Loius Theroux get the big screen treatment in “Brand: A Second Coming” and “My Scientology Movie“, respectively.

BFI members can book from September 10, the public from September 17. Click here

See our listings story before this to plan your viewing and will be covering the festival as it has done in previous years – so look out for competition tickets, special interviews and reviews. And like us on FACEBOOK to hear the latest on all that.

Main picture: Beeba Boys

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture