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Bird Bites: UK Asian Film Festival, International Satyajit Ray Congress, Hotel Salvation, Stephen Lawrence Day star turns, women changemakers, and Take-Awasian

Bird Bites: UK Asian Film Festival, International Satyajit Ray Congress, Hotel Salvation, Stephen Lawrence Day star turns, women changemakers, and Take-Awasian

A round-up of what’s coming up and what’s happened…

A chance to relive that time when the Beatles went to India…

BRITAIN’S longest running Asian inspired film festival has announced dates for a hybrid edition this year and will bring the curtain down on itself with a world premiere of a film about the Beatles’ time in India.
Called ‘The Beatles and India’ it will screen at the BFI Southbank in London on June 6. Made by Ajoy Bhose and co-directed by Peter Comption, the film explores the group’s relationship with India and their engagement with religion and culture in the country and how it influenced their music.
“The film features leading figures from both sides including musical genius and film composer Ravi Shankar, in nostalgic celebration of Anglo-India collaboration,” say organisers behind the UK Asian Film Festival (UKAFF).
The 23rd edition – will run from May 26-June 6 and is centred around the idea of A Ray of Hope – celebrating the 100th birth year anniversary of the legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray. The iconic director was born on May 2 1921.

This week the festival organisers also announced their opening film.
On May 26, UKAFF will host the screening of ‘Raahgir’ (‘The Wayfarers’) at the BFI Southbank.
Directed by Goutam Ghose the film has a glittering line-up of well-known names from independent filmmaking circuit in India and beyond.
Adil Hussain, Tillotama Shome (pictured above in the film) and Neeraj Kabi feature in this film about a destitute couple seeking work and their journey takes place during the monsoon and among varied settings.
The festival first began its life as ‘Tongues on Fire’ and was women-orientated, thanks to founder and still current director Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry. The festival will be announcing more of its selections and telling people about its short film competition screenings and other initiatives shortly.
For the first time, the festival also extends to Coventry this year, among its previous locations of London, and Leicester and now has a website partner in Modern Films.
As one of the festival’s digital media partners, stay tuned to for updates and news….
For more on the festival and booking:

Acclaimed Indian directors to discuss Satyajit Ray on his 100th year birth anniversary

Satyajit Ray as presented by Saudha

ALSO celebrating the birthday anniversary year of legendary Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray is Saudha, Society of Poetry and Indian Music.
It, along with several other partners, is hosting a two-day online gathering that includes talks, a short film on Ray and music – all focused on one of India’s greatest filmmakers.
The International Satyajit Congress will run from Sunday, May 2-3, starting on each day at 3pm British Summer Time (BST).
An impressive array of speakers will be contributing – these include feted current Indian directors, Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Aparna Sen and Goutam Ghose. Films by these artists have featured in many prominent film festivals around the world over the years and Gopalakrishnan is the only other Indian director alongside Ray himself to win the prestigious BFI Sutherland Trophy, presented to the most original and imaginative film screened at the London Film Festival. He won the award for ‘Elippathayam’ (‘Rat Trap’) in 1982. This is about a patriarch who is essentially trapped in his own world of delusions and self-importance.
Ahmed Kaysher, Saudha co-founder and artistic director, promises something a little different to the usual retrospectives and commemorations.
“This is an attempt to re-exolore his work,” he told “This will be a move away from traditional criticism and more about an intellectual interpretation of Rays’s film connecting with the everyday and the contemporary world as well as looking at the spiritual essence, and culture in a wider sense – and examining his ideas in relation to such figures such as Rabindranath Tagore and the music and poetry and the influence of all this on his own filmmaking. and Ray’s impact on other filmmakers and genres, such as Italian neo-realism for example.”
Kaysher is keen to look particularly at Ray’s legacy and relationship to other prominent Bengali filmmakers such as Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak.
The International Satyajit Congress is available free from Saudha’s Facebook and Youtube channels – Sunday, May 3 – 3pm-7pm (BST) /7.30pm-11.30pm (IST)/8pm-12am (Bangladesh)

Hotel Salvation screening and Q&A today

Adil Hussain and Lalit Behl in ‘Hotel Salvation

SAD NEWS ahead of the online screening today (Sunday, April 25) of the film ‘Hotel Salvation’ by the London Indian Film Festival as part of its pre-festival online activities.
Lalit Behl, one of the stars of this unusual film, died on Friday (April 23) and Sunday’s screening will be dedicated to him.
In this 2017 film, an old man decides to leave his family and friends behind and sets out to die in the holy Hindu city of Varanasi – much to the consternation of his oldest son, played by Adil Hussain.
Directed by the precocious Shubhashish Bhutiani, when he was just 25, he will discuss the film with London Indian Film Festival’s (LIFF) Ashanti Omkar post its screening at 7pm UK time – see below for details.
Bhutiani explained to us what inspired him to make the film when it screened at LIFF early that summer ahead of its BFI and UK release in August 2017.
This year’s edition of LIFF will be back in cinemas from June 17- July 4.
Hotel Salvation available from 3pm-5pm (UK) for £3 See here.
The Shubhashish Bhutiani free webinar Q&A &pm (UK) to register here.

More stars speak up in new short videos on Stephen Lawrence Day

A NUMBER of prominent personalities, including Idris Elba, Noel Clarke, and Angela Griffin have lent their support to a short film seeking to promote the ideals behind Stephen Lawrence Day, which is on April 22.
“The day is an opportunity to celebrate Stephen’s life, to educate young people about the significance of his legacy and highlight the ongoing work of the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation – the charity founded by Stephen’s mother Honourable Baroness Lawrence,” say organisers. Stephen was 18 when he was stabbed and had ambitions to be an architect and the day wants young people especially to able to realise their ambitions – free from prejudice and discrimination. There are now one minute and 30 second versions of a film which first released in October and is three and half minutes long. New contributors, such as Elba, Lewis Hamilton, Ed Sheeran and Sir Trevor McDonald now feature in the shorter films – including creative Gundeep Anand (see picture).
In the film, stars read a out poem by Max Cyrus. Among the previous contributors to the longer film were popular spoken artist Hussain Manawer.
On the day many schools held assemblies recognising the day and there were other initiatives promoting equality. Stephen Lawrence was murdered on April 22 1993 by a gang in a racist murder in South London whilst waiting for a bus. The bungled police investigation led to an inquiry which concluded that The Metropolitan Police was institutionally racist. See the one-minute video here –

New UK Bangla-Chinese comedy series in works and inspired by #StopAsianHate

Islah Abdur-Rahman and Michael Troung
in ‘Take-Awasian

UPCOMING star creative Islah-Abdur Rahman has announced that he will bring his new comedy, ‘Take-Awasian‘, to the screen and hopes it will tackle prejudice and contribute to the #StopAsianHate campaign.
The comedy series is built around Abdur-Rahman, who is also known as Mistah Islah, and Michael Troung who first joined together to create the successful Youtube comedy series, ‘The Corner Shop Show’.
The pair have already started filming and just as their previous sitcom was filmed inside a real shop, ‘Take-Awasian‘ is also shot in a real take away, called Panda’s Kitchen in east London.
“We film when it’s closed after 11pm,” Abdur-Rehman told “Yeah, there are a lot of late nights.”
Abdur-Rahman, who also has a spot as a broadcaster on the BBC Asian Network, has been ramping up his work as an actor and has featured in ‘Man Like Mobeen’ and was in the recent ITV drama, ‘Too Close’. More here about Take-Awasian.

Women of colour as changemakers must be spotlighted says ‘Wonder Women’ filmmaker

All women panel: Eileen Tasca; Christina Rose;
Kate Rees Davies; Eva Lanska and Anna Fishbeyn

FILM producer Christiana Rose called on society to direct the spotlight on women and women of colour as heroes and models for change and growth.
The German-American filmmaker is working on a documentary, ‘Wonder Women’ which is looking at women as changemakers and innovators and said that women should form alliances and be alive to women of colour facing challenges and overcoming them.
“We must include women of colour in these conversations,” said Rose participating in an online Global Content Creators Showcase spotlighting women filmmakers and how more women can get to be behind the camera.
The all-female panel included two women directors and another female producer and was moderated by LA-based Kate Rees Davies, a British woman who has just launched the New Hollywood Collective, which seeks to get more women and underrepresented groups into TV and filmmaking. The event which took place during the online MIPTV April 12-16, and created to showcase global TV content. MIPTV usually takes place in Cannes annually at this time. You can watch a short version of the discussion here and the full here (both Youtube). The original panel discussion was on Facebook Live through invitation.

NB: The Oscars are this evening – we will have reports tomorrow (April 26)…

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture