ny film fest

Award-winning filmmaker Prithvi Konanur’s Kannada film, “Pinki Elli” (“Where is Pinki”), will open the 2021 New York Indian Film Festival June 3. “The Covid-19 situation in India is heartbreaking,” said Indian American Aseem Chhabra, NYIFF festival director. “But we made a promise to our audience in the United States and elsewhere. The show must go on.” (photo provided)

The Kannada film, “Pinki Elli” (“Where is Pinki”), is set to the open the 2021 edition of the annual New York Indian Film Festival, which will be held virtually from June 3-13.

The festival, presented by the Indo-American Arts Council, will also be celebrating the birth anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi, Satyajit Ray and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

Director Ramesh Sharma’s “Ahimsa Gandhi: The Power of the Powerless” and Ajitesh Sharma’s “WOMB: Women of My Billion” will be featured as the festival’s centerpiece.

“Ahimsa” is a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and the film’s screening marks the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, while “The Music of Satyajit Ray” is a documentary that celebrates the 100th birth centenary of the legendary filmmaker.

The short documentary, “At the Altar of India’s Freedom – INA’s Veterans of Malaysia,” celebrates the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

The closing film of the festival, powered by MovieSaints, is Ajitpal Singh’s “Fire in the Mountains.”

“The Covid-19 situation in India is heartbreaking and our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost their loved ones,” said Indian American Aseem Chhabra, NYIFF festival director. “But we made a promise to our audience in the United States and elsewhere. The show must go on. We present the best of Indian cinema from 2020 and 2021.”

Through “Pinki Elli,” award-winning filmmaker Prithvi Konanur said he “wanted to hold a mirror to the society.” The film offers a gritty glimpse into the perspectives and experiences of everyday people. The complex tale weaves together the story of Bindu and Girish, a working couple in Bangalore with an eight-month-old baby girl, Pinki. When Pinki goes missing, the frantic search effort forces the film’s characters to confront strange places, people and situations that require each of them to reconcile their past, present and future.

Shot in India, South Africa, the U.S. and Europe, “Ahimsa Gandhi: The Power of the Powerless” tracks the influence of Gandhi’s non-violence approach on world leaders, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to late Congressman John Lewis, Lech Walesa, Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

International musicians U2 and A.R. Rahman have contributed to the title track. 

“WOMB: Women of My Billion” is a heart wrenching and heartwarming narrative showing the plight of victims of violence, their dreams, rights and the fight against all forms of violence.

The documentary features Srishti Bakshi, a UN Women Champion of Change and Commonwealth Points of Light award winner and activist, who undertook a 3,800 km journey on-foot over 240 days in 2018, from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, to educate people on combating violence.

“Fire in the Mountains” tells the striking tale of Chandra and her husband, Dharam, who run an inn in a small Himalayan village. The terrain poses a problem for the family, who must transport their son, Prakash, down the mountain in his wheelchair for doctors and school. While Chandra believes Prakash needs more medical attention, Dharam would rather put his faith in a shamanic ritual he believes will rid them of a deity’s curse, the cause of Prakash’s affliction. Tensions increase as their worldviews collide and slowly erode their familial ties.

The debut feature from writer-director Ajitpal Singh, which earned praise at the Sundance Film Festival, is a searing portrait of the power dynamics at play between tradition and modernity.

“For 21 years, NYIFF has showcased the most impactful and esteemed films and documentaries celebrating India, its people and its heritage,” added Suman Gollamudi, executive director of IAAC. “The caliber of films on the 2021 lineup includes notable works by award-winning filmmakers, which aim to capture stories that have a truly profound message about our world today. These films have received exceptional praise from critics and audiences around the globe.” 

The complete 2021 NYIFF lineup will be made available in the coming weeks.

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