24th Jun, 2021

The Belgrade to host socially-distanced screenings at UK Asian Film Festival in May

ONE of the highlights of the 23rd UK Asian Film Festival at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre next month is the premiere of The Beatles and India.

This new documentary includes exclusive footage of The Beatles performing in Coventry as a support band – before they were famous.

The world’s longest running South Asian film festival outside India will be hosted by the Belgrade from Thursday May 27 to Saturday May 29. It will be jointly hosted with Leicester’s South Asian arts company Phizzical.

Now in its 23rd year, the festival produced by Tongues on Fire, historically showcases South Asian feminist films and the work of pioneering female artists and auteurs.

But this year’s festival is inspired by the theme Ray of Hope highlighting stories of resilience and bravery, celebrating those who take a stand against oppression and injustice.

Samir Bhamra, UK Asian Film Festival creative director and senior producer at the Belgrade, said: “Cinema has been a ray of hope for all of us during this pandemic.

“Its power to entertain, provide escapism and boost our wellbeing has held us all together during this pandemic. And just as characters in films go on a journey of growth, UKAFF has expanded to Coventry this year.

“Working in partnership with Belgrade Theatre, we are delighted to be one of the key headline events during the UK City of Culture to celebrate the best of South Asian culture, positivity and creativity.”

Screenings will open with the world premiere of Toofan Mail on Thursday May 27.

Based on a true story from the 1970s, a woman lands at the New Delhi railway station claiming that she’s the Queen of Awadh. After asking to meet Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, she demands for her ancestral palace and wealth to be restored.

This new Hindi feature film is the directorial debut of actor Akriti Singh. She has previously appeared in Bank Chor, Kamyaab, and Photograph.

Other highlights include the Oscar nominated Zindagi Tamasha on Friday May 28. Sarmad Khoosat’s award-winning 2019 film has been caught up in a blasphemy controversy, with its release in Pakistan suspended. Despite the ban it went on to be nominated in the Academy Award’s Best International Feature category.

Also showing are two more brand new Indian films: Khape directed by Suchita Bhatia and Kumar Chowdhury’s Fire of Teak, Flame of Chinar.

The festival will close with the world premiere of Ajoy Bose’s documentary The Beatles and India on Saturday May 29. It chronicles the enduring love affair between The Beatles and India, featuring rare archival footage, photographs and eye-witness accounts.

Ahead of the festival in lockdown three Coventry-based film enthusiasts. Amisha Patel, Jess Goodwin, and Shabana Sarguro took part in two days of online workshops led by Dr Ashvin Immanuel Devasundaram (Queen Mary University of London) and Dr Monia Acciari (Demontfort University) organised by the UK Asian Film Festival.

They were taught valuable tools in curational excellence which they employed when selecting the Belgrade’s opening film.

The festival will also run at venues in London and Leicester, with the opening and closing ceremonies taking place at the BFI Southbank.

Socially distanced screenings will take place in the B2 auditorium at the Belgrade from Thurs May 27 – Sat May 29. Tickets are £5 and are available online at belgrade.

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