This year’s festival is guided by the idea of dare to dream after 75 years of independence…
By Sailesh Ram & Mamie Colfox
THERE was considerable excitement at the BFI Southbank as the 24th UK Asian Film Festival (formerly known as Tongues on Fire) opened with the extremely hard-hitting and uncompromising Pakistani film, ‘Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer’ yesterday (May 4).
One of its stars, Ayesha Omar, graced the red carpet at the riverside venue and caused quite the stir on entrance. She was joined by Yasir Hussain who plays Iqbal.
The film centres around Iqbal, who confessed to sexually abusing and murdering more than 100 boys in Lahore over the course of 1998 and 1999 – it was alleged that Iqbal was simply a cog in the wheel and part of a systematic and powerful paedophile ring that managed to escape justice. Iqbal was found dead in his cell in 2001, before sentence was passed and he was reported to have committed suicide.
Hussain has received wide plaudits for his portrayal of Iqbal – and the film in no way glamorises the grisly crimes Iqbal committed.
Director Abu Aleeha adapted the film from his own novel, ‘Kukri’. The film is banned in Pakistan. It no now screens as part of the festival in Harrow on Sunday, Glasgow on Wednesday (May 11); Coventry on Saturday (May 14) as well as Stockton on the same day. (See link below for individual listings). The festival concludes on May 15 at the BFI Southbank.
Among those also walking the red carpet last night were acting and presenting couple – Yanick Ghanty and Nisha Aaliya. Ghanty has recently made a big breakthrough as a TV actor nabbing his first regular role in a network series – ‘Hullraisers’.
Aaliya is a familiar face at the festival, moderating several Zooms and is also an up and coming actor herself, who had a role in the big budget Hindi version of ‘A Girl on a Train’, among other feature roles.
‘Hullraisers’ gets a special screening on Sunday (May 8) at the festival at Rich Mix in East London. Centred around three strong female characters and written by actor Lucy Beaumont who is from Hull, the sitcom revolves around wannabe star Toni (Leah Brotherhead), who is a mum and her sister Paula (Sinead Matthews) and her sister-in-law Rana (Taj Atwal).
Ghanty plays Rana’s brother and he has a wife and two children in the comedy drama that began last month and which will conclude its episodic broadcasting this. The series is adapted from a successful Israeli sitcom.
Ghanty and fiancé Aaliya will present the Tongues on Fire Awards on Sunday (May 15) at the BFI Southbank following the screening of ‘Gangnam Girls’.
“We’re hosting the awards and it will be very full on,” Ghanty told www.asianculturevulture.com on the red carpet last night. While Aaliya joked: “We’re going to a lot of the events at the festival – and after this we’ve booked a holiday!”
Ghanty said he felt ‘Hullraisers’ was breaking new ground – written by a woman and starring three strong female voices who were also connected through family and also happened to be a third Asian.
“The most beautiful thing about the show, is that the people are just people from Hull, who just happen to have a mixed race family. It’s not about the characters from specific places or who have to be Indian guy number one or two, it’s just that I’m playing a character called Dane who happens to be brown.”
Ghanty and several cast members will attend a post screening discussion on Sunday.
Aaliya said she really identified with this year’s film festival theme, Dare to Dream – after 75 years on Independence from British rule.
“I dared to be an actor, which was a decision. It wasn’t my plan in life, but I dared to dream it, and five years later I’m here speaking to you, giving an interview. It’s kind of wild,” she disclosed.
On Sunday too, the festival hosts the world premiere of the documentary film, ‘Kekee Manzil; House of Art’ at the Regent St Cinema at 7pm – acv is proud to be hosting this film in partnership with the UK Asian Film Festival.
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