As the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) turns 14 this year, filmmakers including Anurag Kashyap, Nandita Das and Sudhir Mishra have lauded the fest for putting Indian independent cinema on the global map, and for bridging the gap between Hollywood and the Indian entertainment industry.
Since its inception in 2003, IFFLA has spotted numerous talented indie filmmakers through their critically acclaimed films much before the rest of the world discovered them.
Notable films showcased at IFFLA include Kashyap's "Black Friday", Nishikant Kamat's "Dombivli Fast", Vishal Bhardwaj's "Maqbool", and several career - defining short films including Ritesh Batra's "Gareeb Nawaz's Taxi", Raam Reddy's "Ika", Neeraj Ghaywan's "Shor", Umesh Kulkarni's "Girni", and Shlok Sharma's "Tubelight Ka Chand" to name a few.
Kashyap credits the film fest for giving him global acclaim, and a new lease of life in showbiz.
"Getting the film noticed helped me a lot to gain credibility back home in India. IFFLA gave me a new lease of life. I see it growing from strength to strength because of their selection of the films, " Kashyap added.
Sriram Raghavan, who made waves with his last vengeance drama "Badlapur", said: "IFFLA makes sure that days are packed, you watch movies, then there are programmes, there are a lot of interactions with all kind of professionals from the field. This facilitates a lot of filmmakers like me. . . Like 'Johnny Gaddaar' was a small film but I got to meet a lot of people from various American companies. "
"It's a wonderful week you spend there; you come back with whole lot treasure of memories with people you know and things that have happened, " he added.
Ghaywan, who took the foreign audience by storm with his film "Masaan", shares that the film gala is special to him as his first film "Shor" was screened there.
Critically - acclaimed actress and filmmaker Nandita Das said that every time it's a "new audience" at IFFLA, which gives rise to diversity.
"I first went to IFFLA with 'Provoked'. But my real experience with IFFLA was when I went for 'Firaaq', Every time it's a new audience. The festival has a very interesting mix crowd of Indian diaspora but also lot of mainstream Americans, people who are interested in independent films. It's a very casual, intimate, yet a fast growing festival. It's Indian yet a global fest, " she added.
This year, the festival will screen approximately 30 films from or about India (features, documentaries and short films including animation).
The full line - up of films along with the opening and closing red carpet galas will be announced by the first week of March. The fest will be held from April 6 - 10 at ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles, California, read a statement.
Mishra asserted that "every filmmaker wants to reach out to that kind of audience. IFFLA definitely provides a big service to the cause of Indian cinema. "
Celebrities like Naseeruddin Shah, Deepti Naval, Ismail Merchant, Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta, Anil Kapoor, Abhay Deol and several other luminaries have graced the festival over the years.