UK Asian Film Festival 2022 launches its programme with this year’s theme as ‘Dare To Dream’, marking 75 years of India and Pakistan’s independence. The inaugural 24th edition of UKAFF kicks off with the World Premiere of the banned Pakistani biographical film, Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story Of A Serial Killer on 4th May. The fest runs in venues across London, Birmingham, Leicester, Coventry, Warwick, Bradford, Stockton and Glasgow.
Iqbal sexually abused and murdered more than 100 boys in Lahore during the 90s. Director Abu Aleeha and lead actor Ayesha Omer are expected to attend. The feature is based on Aleeha’s own novel, Kukri. Festival founder and director, Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry MBE says: “It has always been far too convenient for South-Asian societies to brush such issues under the carpet.”
“But only by creating safe spaces in which to confront these issues and their root causes can we begin to create the meaningful social change we need.” It is among the first films from the country which show a female cop as the lead. The Opening Night Gala takes place at BFI Southbank.
Bhutanese coming-of-age drama Gangnam Girls will be the Closing Night Gala. It is about four estranged friends reuniting after several years. Made by a predominantly female crew, the picture marks UKAFF’s Closing Night Gala on 15th May, at the same venue as the opening. Filmmaker Charmi Nemchand Chheda and producer Zangmo Dukpa might be in attendance at the same venue. The movie is in the Dzongkha language.
Rahat Kazmi’s Lines will have its British Premiere. Hina Khan and Bollywood legend Farida Jalal (among others) star in pivotal roles. With the 1999 Kargil War as a backdrop, it explores how an Indian woman and Pakistani man keep their marriage intact as Kashmir warfare intensifies. Dostojee by Prasun Chatterjee returns to the UK after its premiere at London Film Festival last year. It shows two 8-year old boys navigating a growing religious divide in this portrait of childhood set after the destruction of India’s Babri Mosque.
Several Indian films will be screened at this year’s festival too. Gujarati film Gandhi & Co by Manish Saini revolves around a young boy who idolises Mahatma Gandhi. Bengali movie Adieu Godard by Amartya Bhattacharyya highlights an elderly porn addict who gets obsessed with legendary French filmmaker Jean Luc Godard’s work. The screening will be associated with UKAFF’s FilmWallah Club.
Telugu feature Muthayya depicts a 70-year-old man trying to live his acting dreams through TikTok videos. Adh Chanani Raat by Gurvinder Singh revolves around a murder-convict who tries to rebuild his life. A remastered version of Punjabi classic Chann Pardesi gets screened. Another Hindi classic Mughal-E-Azam will also be displayed.
UKAFF also acquires many South-Asian titles. Bangladesh’s Oscar-nominated Rehana Maryam Noor by Abdullah Mohammad Saad explores a university professor confronting a colleague who sexually harassed a student. Sri Lanka’s The Single Tumbler by Sivamohan Sumathy is an inward glance at northern Tamil society in the country at a time of crisis of identity. Leonard Yip’s Malam is a Singaporean noir feature on a young man rising beyond a life of crime and violence. Emre Mirza’s 12 Hours is a Turkish family drama set amidst the pandemic. American-Indian picture Hot Mess Holiday will also premiere. Channel 4’s upcoming sitcom Hullraisers sees the exhibition of two episodes.
Like every year, there will be Documentaries premiering at UKAFF. A few examples are Hostile directed by Sonia Gale. This shows ‘hostile environment’ policies towards UK migrants. Rahul Jain’s Invisible Demons explores the dramatic consequences of India’s growing economy. Emergence: Out Of The Shadows focuses on the hardships of young South-Asian Queers.
The 2022 lineup brings back physical workshops. Ram Devineni and Raven Kaliana head a full-day event. This begins with a puppet-animation short film premiere of Priya And The Twirling Wind, followed by an Augmented reality exhibition, comic book and puppet workshop. Meenu Gaur, filmmaker of South-Asian noir hit series Qaatil Haseenaon Ke Naam on ZEE5 will host the Director’s Workshop and will screen two episodes. International South Asian Film Festivals Federation (SAFFF) and UKAFF collaborate for a networking event.
Indian Cinema Beyond Bollywood by Ashvin Devasundaram celebrates a book launch at the British Library. A panel discussion takes place at the House Of Lords to commemorate the late legend, Dilip Kumar. Titled Nehru’s Hero: Dilip Kumar in The Life of India panellists include Lord Desai, Rosie Thomas and Munni Kabir. The short-film competition by Saz Vora is also due to take place.
For full details on UKAFF’s 2022 programme, check out their website here.