Pictures courtesy of Raj Pandit Photography and #Yashtag Photography.
First Leicester Asian Film Festival, organized in collaboration with partner organizations (Phoenix Cinema, Phizzical, Tongues on Fire, London Asian Film Festival, BFI, Film Hub Central East and Media partners: Sabras Radio, Biz Asia, Punjab 2000) which occurred between 16-19 March 2017 at Phoenix Cinema and Arts Centre, was a huge success. The feedback received were extremely positive and demonstrated the necessity for the inclusion of independent productions from the south Asian subcontinent into the programming of cinemas in Leicester. The multicultural dimension of the city was celebrated not only as a means to evoke the city’s culture of cinema going, but the festival also aimed to connect with the cultural and social spheres of this city, the importance of its diaspora, in need of much acknowledgement and celebration through the growing panorama of independent productions.
This festival aimed also at re-thinking certain conceptions that sees the binomial audience/South Asian diaspora as encapsulated within the realm of mainstream Bollywood cinema. The festival dedicated to such independent productions underlines the need to start thinking about South Asian diasporic audience (and their multiple migrations) in a diverse frame, and through the means of different constituencies that are not necessarily encapsulated by the Bollywood paradigm.
The festival opened with a reception and the screening of the Gujarati film ‘Wrong Side Raju‘, particularly chosen for the Leicester audience. It was wonderful to see so many people filling the cinema to sold-out screens.
Many audience members were overjoyed to see a South Asian film festival incorporating new-wave Indian films in Leicester.
When asked for feedback about the festival itself, most audience members confidently responded that they would be happy to come and watch more Indian films in the future and that it helped to promote the multiculturalism of the city. A small selection of the comments received have been included here:
“Gets you out of your comfort zone / celebrates diversity”
“Giving a platform to diverse stories that don’t otherwise get acknowledgement”
“Bring communities together. Awareness of different cultures”
“This festival promotes the community”
“To bring people together and remember that we are people”
“Opens up minds to world cinema – brings in wider audience to Phoenix. It makes Leicester a more interesting place to live in.”
“It brings an even greater range of audience to the Phoenix”
“It is beautiful to see mixing of cultures various cultures in the wake of Brexit”
“To educate mainstream people & young kids about the culture of Asian society + the
“After the cinemas shutdown, there was no way for us to watch films as a community. This is a great effort. Hope it continues in the coming years.”
“Excellent opportunity to see non Bollywood Asian films”
“Supporting foreign independent movies is a sign that culture from anywhere matters”
“Great exposure for quality Asian independent films”
“To promote new talent”
“Please lets have an annual Leicester Asian Film Festival”
“Brings equality + culture to Leicester”
“1) Opportunity to see totally amazing Asian films which will not be shown @ mainstream cinema. 2) Opportunity to celebrate the versatility of Asian films”
“Very important as they reflect on some of the issues / topics we can gain knowledge about”
“1) Helps to promote non mainstream Asian films which we would not get a chance to see without the festival. 2) Allows non Asian communities to see Asian films to promote unity”
Thank you very much for making this festival a huge success and for taking the time to provide such meaningful responses.
Last, but not least, I would like to thank the fantastic DMU student volunteers who contributed towards the success of this festival.