Curtain came down on the main 12-day festival on October 15 and we take a look back…
BRITAIN’S largest film festival ended officially on Sunday evening (October 15) with the world premiere screening of actor and now first-time co-director Daniel Kaluuya’s London-set, futuristic and partly apocalyptic drama, ‘The Kitchen’, with co-director Kibwe Tavares.
While that was playing at the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank, where most of this year’s galas were hosted, www.asianculturevulture.com was in Leicester Square Vue for only the second and final LFF screening of ‘The Buckingham Murders’.
This Hansal Mehta Indian produced film – but made in the UK – introduced us to Bollywood megastar Kareena Kapoor Khan as a UK Detective Sergeant Jass Bhamra – who gets demoted for punching what we think is the killer of her child. (See more with the review below)
It’s clear that both Khan and Mehta have been watching UK police procedural dramas and the tone is serious, very sombre and a little overladen with ‘issoos’.
Mehta spoke to us at the final LFF Friday afternoon teas on Friday (October 13) and said the film was driven by a sense of trauma.
You can read the full review underneath here and our interview with Mehta may run as a print one closer to the time of a wide release.
Mehta downplayed the idea that this will be the start of a franchise – one trade title has a story quoting Mehta along these lines – and Khan in a social media post raised the example of Helen Mirren, one of Britain’s most successful film actors, who carved out a name for herself on TV, in the wildly popular crime serial drama, ‘Prime Suspect’ initially.
Mehta joked in the post screening Q&A at the Vue in Leicester Square that drink had been involved in the journo chat. We get the picture.
The highlights for us this year were the sheer number of titles that had strong South Asian themes – some overtly and unabashedly so, with the filmmakers only too happy to discuss.
In this vein, James Krishna Floyd as co-director of the powerful and moving ‘Unicorns’ and Fawzia Mirza’s fun and smart ‘The Queen of My Dreams’ showed both how South Asian identity is both challenged and reinforced within an LGBTQIA+ context.
While ‘Unicorns’ deals overtly with this in a cross-cultural romance between a white working class man falling in love with a transexual woman, Mirza’s ‘The Queen of my Dreams’ is essentially a mother-daughter drama and something of a homage to Bollywood – and she discusses this with us in our video interview (coming).
Floyd talks about the need to shed labels and meet people as they are and not how you might want them to be, according to your own preferences or expectations. Both these films deserve wide audiences.
So too does ‘Dear Jassi’ – which was something of a film highlight for us at LFF this year.
Director Tarsem, as is he best known, by this single moniker, has now become Tarsem Singh Dhandwar.
The transition is probably deliberate – his ‘Romeo and Juliet’ film, based on a real life tale, came with high expectations, having won a major prize in Toronto, at TIFF last month.
It doesn’t disappoint – the two leads are astonishing and Yugam Sood who plays Mithu is incredible – Dhandwar says in our video interview (coming) that he essentially looked for non-actors, and shot the film in chronological order, allowing the actors to find each other as two people falling in love, might. It is highly recommended.
In fact, all the films we highlighted this year have something about them and are worth your time – on one proviso, know a little a bit about their content (read/watch acv!) and then decide whether you’re going to invest your time in them.
There are similarities between ‘Sky Peals’ and ‘In Camera’ – neither is a comedy drama – but have wonderful and slightly absurd moments. ‘Sky Peals’ we feel, is the better film, conceptually and cinematographically, it delivers and Faraz Ayub is exceptional in carrying off the slightly confused, diffident and grieving young man, that is Adam. Writer-director Moin Hussain who talked to us in Venice with Ayub (to camera) is one to watch and we may revisit our LFF tea chat with him, nearer the time of a UK release in a print piece.
Some folks have been raving about ‘In Camera’ but for us, it didn’t live up to the hype, sadly.
Lead Nabhaan Rizwan is good value but the film seems like a good idea that slightly lost its way in the editing room.
Nevertheless, to have this many British Asian films at LFF was heartening and as we say in our LFF wrap chat with Nidhi Sahani, from Popcorn Pixel, bring it on!
And that is even if we have to think a bit differently about how we cover LFF next year with this many films of specific interest to us. It’s never been quite like this…
All the videos we will be dropping, are also likely to carry short film reviews where appropriate on the site, as well.
So, that’s a wrap – till the next film festival!
Below in the gallery, more about our highlights (non Asian), and what’s coming in the way of interviews and coverage and other things we saw…
To view (on desktops & tablets) click on picture and use arrows > by moving cursor to the middle; to close picture, click x on top right; to close gallery, click outside the picture frame…
For caption only, hover cursor over picture. For mobiles, click on pictures to enlarge and read caption and flick through as above… enjoy!
A little more than Bollywood can cudgel… (review)
WE DON’T want to be too disparaging – after all this is Bollywood tackling child murder in the UK and centering it in Buckinghamshire.
Kareena Kapoor Khan is a Detective Inspector who finds herself being demoted and transferred to High Wycombe and having to take on a case initially of a young schoolboy having gone missing. We learn that her own son was shot and died but the precise circumstances of this are never quite broached, we feel.
There are some familiar British actors – Ash Tandon (‘Bodyguard’) is very good as the local DI Hardik ‘Hardy’ Patel; and Keith Allen (‘Kingsman’) is also very believable as the chief of police who wants to avoid “another Leicester”, referring to the real tensions that broke out last year involving two communities.
While that is the backdrop, a slightly convoluted story unfurls with some typical suspects parading themselves. It isn’t exactly predictable and makes some great social points along the way – with Khan offering the patriarchy a massive and deserved slap! Mehta is a fine director, as as he showed in his first LFF film, ‘Aligarh’’ (2016). This never quite matches those heights and is a very different beast, but remains very watchable, so long as you appreciate its Indian characteristics, we feel. And Khan sheds Bollywood glamour for Buckinghamshire grit (even if that doesn’t sound quite right).
Acv rating: *** (out of five).
Our LFF 2023 wrap chat…
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