For the 12th time the Filmbuero Baden-Wuerttemberg, founder of the Indian Film Festival Stuttgart, is showcasing great cinematography from India. Set in Stuttgart, the Swabian capital, the festival takes place from July 15th to 19th. Among the sponsors are Lapp Kabel, the Robert Bosch foundation and Andreas Lapp, the Honorary Consul of the Republic of India. During the sponsors gala the Indian boxoffice hit Piku, a comedy by Shootjit Sircar and starring some of the biggest stars of Indian cinema, Deepika Padukone, Irrfan Khan and the former 'angry young man' Amitabh Bachchan, will be shown. A beautiful, emotionally entertaining story about family bonds between the generations. As one of the oldest and largest festivals dedicated to Indian cinema in Europe, it highlights the hugh variety this country has to offer. Invited are films from various genres, and in different regional languages and formats. The Festival Director Oliver Mahn states, „The aim is to showcase new trends of filmmaking, independent films and newcomers, and, most importantly, to introduce sociocritical topics regarding India to the audience“.
Next to the Audience Award and Director's Vision Award the festival has three main categories which will compete for the 'German Star of Indian Cinema', including feature, documentary and short films. On July 19th the winners of each category will be announced. In addition, the festival attracts with supporting programmes. Among those are the daily 'Tea Talks', expert panel talks on political, environmental or social topics regarding India. Programme Director Alexandra Schott relies on strong films which show an enormous diversity of topics. She summarizes that almost all the films include almost no moralizing attitude, but an observing camera and complex narration, part dark, sometimes with astonishing ease - addressing explosive issues and reflecting ongoing discussions in India, for example on gender roles.
Some debut feature films will certainly make headlines in the future. Such as Four Colours (Chauranga, Dir. Bikas Mishra), starring Tannishta Chatterejee and Sanjay Suri, and The Wretched (Haraamkhor, Dir. Shlok Sharma) with Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Both films stage social taboos such as youth discovering their sexuality or married couples having secret affairs. Schott emphasizes, 'Thrilling and brutally staged, our films also deal with other important issues such as low caste in rural India, illiteracy or violence'. A rarely discussed topic is shown in the beautiful love story Chotoder Chobi - A short story (Dir. Kaushik Ganguly). The drama exposes the problem of the discrimination of vertically challenged people with gentle Humor and in a colourful circus setting. Besides the topics, the formats vary enormously in this year's programme, exploring different aspects of narration and style. For example the art house film Labour of Love (Ash Jaoar Majhe, Dir. Aditya Vikram Sengupta), a slow paced film which shows the life of a couple without exchanging a single spoken word. On the other hand the intense and surreal crafted Marathi film Sunrise (Arunoday, Dir. Partho Sen-Gupta) on hope and trauma of a couple after their child had been abducted. Others have an epic visual Impact such as the documentary Monsoon by Sturla Gunnarson, one of Canada's most versatile filmmakers, which follows its journey over the Indian subcontinent and explores the destructive and live-giving power of the annual raining season.
Although films from all over India are presented, the festival's focus is on one regional language every year. This year is dedicated to Marathi, the primary language of the state Maharashtra. From this region comes the awardwinning debut film Court by Chaitanya Tamhane on arbitrary arrests, which premiered in Venice. The focus also includes the beautiful children's film Elizabeth Ekadashi (Pilgrimage, Dir. Paresh Mokashi). Furthermore the festival is proud to have two world premieres representing Marathi cinema, The Quest (Ringan) by Abhijit D. Abde and The Silence by Gajendra Ahire, starring well known actor Raghuvir Yadav and newcomer Anjali Patil. The focus is completed with a prominent talk on Marathi cinema by the profound film expert Dr. Mohan Agashe, actor and psychiatrist from Pune. Agashe performs as a dement elderly person in the short film Seek and Hide (Dir. Manoj Kumar Nitharwal).
Violence against women in India is widely discussed, therefor we are happy to welcome the filmmaker Leslee Udwin for a talk on her highly controversial discussed documentary India's Daughter about the 2012 rape case in Delhi. The question of blame is also explored in the Short Fault (Dir. Parabajeet Singh). Beside violence against women, poetically portrayed in Newborns (Dir. Megha Ramaswamy) on survivors of cruel acid attacks, other documentaries like Mardistan (Dir. Harjant Gill) raise in an amusing way the question 'what is manhood?'. By taking the angle of women, their selfesteem and rebellious actions, the world premier of the documentary Can't take this shit any more by Vinod Kapri addresses the pressing issue of toilet access in India in general.
Furthermore we are proud to have famous actor Vipin Shrama among our guests, who will give an exclusive acting workshop on the renowned Meisner technique. The actor is well known from Hindi blockbusters such as Taare Zameen Par by Amir Khan, and performing in famous independent films such as Gangs of Wasseypur by Anurag Kashyap. This year he stars in the critical short film Journey (Safar, Dir. Pratyusha Gupta) and acts also in our great Closing Film Rainbow (Dhanak ) by Nagesh Kukoonor. The beautiful fairytale premiered and was awarded at the Berlinale, and tells the story of a blind boy and his sister who set out on an adventurous journey through picturesque Rajasthan to restore his eyesight.
This year the festival sets focus on highly controversial topics and taboos, trends and discussions in India. The overlaying theme are relationships and journeys, and the different living worlds that collide and challenge. The programme has many more fantastic new films to explore.