What's New - Festival Highs

18th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles Announces 2020 Lineup

by Uma da Cunha



Now in its 18th year, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) is a nonprofit organization devoted to a greater appreciation of Indian cinema and culture by showcasing films and promoting the diverse perspectives of the Indian diaspora.

The five-day festival is the premier platform for the latest in cutting-edge global Indian cinema and bridges the gap between the two largest entertainment industries in the world – Hollywood and India.


Opening Night Gala

Imtiaz Ali’s Highway
India / 2014 / 133mins / Hindi
Producers: Sajid Nadiadwala, Imtiaz Ali . Screenwriter: Imtiaz Ali Cinematographer: Anil Mehta Editor: Aarti Bajaj Cast: Alia Bhatt, Randeep Hooda, Durgesh Kumar, Saharsh Kumar Shukla

Synopsis: The film that overnight made Alia Bhatt one of the most formidable actors of her generation, Highway is the tale of the spoilt daughter of a powerful Delhi industrialist who on the eve of her wedding is abducted by a hard-hearted truck driver (an exceptional Randeep Hooda). Their escape from the authorities leads them through some starkly beautiful landscapes of Kashmir, Rajasthan and Punjab, as well as towards the confrontation of a deep common pain in their pasts. As an audience we become wayfarers along their endearing journey that spins the wheels of the rich girl–poor boy trope. Expertly reining in melodrama with an authentic sense of place, Imtiaz Ali guides his characters towards realizations about freedom and bondage, and most impactful of all, how their feelings for each other might not simply be a matter of circumstance. Highway is ultimately an empowering film about the courageous choices women make in a world dictated by men.


Closing Night Gala

Prarthana Mohan’s The MisEducation of Bindu

India / 2019 / 92mins / English
Producer: Edward Timpe Screenwriters: Kay Tuxford, Prarthana Mohan Cinematographer: Dani Sanchez-Lopez Editor: Mike Villasuso Cast: Megan Suri, David Arquette, Priyanka Bose, Philip Labes, Gordan Winarick, Jake Morrissy

Logline: Her homeschooling days behind her, Bindu is an Indian teen fed up with high school and determined to test out early. When a small fee is all that stands in the way of her freedom, she’ll have to confront her bullies and pool her resources before the day is up.


Narrative Features

Bhaskar Hazarika’s Aamis (Ravening)

India/2019/107mins/Assamese / Los Angeles Premiere
Producer: Poonam Deol, Shyam Bora Screenwriter: Bhaskar Hazarika Cinematographer: Riju Das Editor: Shweta Rai Chamling Cast: Lima Das, Arghadeep Baruah, Neetali Das

Logline: Forbidden by society from consummating their desires, a PhD student and a married pediatrician sublimate their feelings for one another into a sensual obsession with exotic meats that drives them to break the ultimate taboo.


Gitanjali Rao’s Bombay Rose

UK/France/India/Qatar/2019/93mins/Hindi / Los Angeles Premiere:
Producers: Rohit Khattar, Anand Mahindra Screenwriter: Gitanjali Rao Cinematographer: Paperboat Design Studios Editor: Gitanjali Rao Cast: Cyli Khare, Amit Deondi, Gargi Shitole, Makrand Deshpande

Logline: Several tales of love are connected by a single red rose in Gitanjali Rao’s animated feature debut.


Arati Kadav’s Cargo

India/2019/113mins/English / Los Angeles Premiere
Producers: Navin Shetty, Shlok Sharma, Arati Kadav Screenwriter: Arati Kadav Cinematographer: Kaushal Shah Editor: Paramita Ghosh Cast: Vikrant Massey, Shweta Tripathi, Nandu Madhav

Logline: Prahastha, a demon who works in solitude aboard a spaceship transitioning the recently deceased into their next life, has his predictable routine thrown into chaos when a popular new demon is assigned to work alongside him.


Prasanna Vithanage’s Children of the Sun (Gaadi)

Sri Lanka/2019/103mins/Sinhalese / Los Angeles Premiere
Producers: Sandya Salgado, Alan McAlex, Ajay Rai, H.D. Premasiri, Prasanna Vithanage Screenwriter: Prasanna Vithanage Cinematographer: Rajeev Ravi Editor: A. Sreekar Prasad Cast: Sajitha Anuththara, Dinara Punchihewa

Logline: In early 1800s Ceylon during the advent of British colonialism, a forbidden love story unfolds when a Buddhist noblewoman is exiled to marry a man from the outcast community after the noblemen’s covert deal to oust the island’s Tamil king goes awry.


Alankrita Shrivastava’s Dolly Kitty And Those Twinkling Stars

India/2019/130mins/Hindi / Los Angeles Premiere
Producer: Ekta Kapoor Screenwriter: Alankrita Shrivastava Cinematographer: John Jacob Payyapalli Editor: Charushree Roy Cast: Konkona Sen Sharma, Bhumi Pednekar, Aamir Bashir, Amol Parashar

Logline: Two cousins—one a dreamer in a call center for a romance app, the other a government employee faking romance IRL—find themselves desperately entangled in the trappings of love and desire in the materialistic enclaves of Noida.


Prateek Vats’ Eeb Allay Ooo!

India/2019/97mins/Hindi / US Premiere
Producer: Shwetaabh Singh Screenwriter: Shubham Cinematographer: Saumyananda Sahi Editor: Tanushree Das Cast: Shardul Bhardwaj, Mahender Nath, Shashi Bhushan, Nutan Sinha, Naina Sareen, Nitin Goel

Logline: Hired as a “monkey repeller” to scare away primates from Delhi’s government buildings, Anjani unexpectedly connects with his animal aggression as he struggles against his exploitative boss and the pressures of social conformity.


Kislay’s Just Like That

India/2019/120mins/Hindi / US Premiere
Producer: Shwetaabh Singh Screenwriter: Kislay Cinematographer: Saumyananda Sahi Editor: Tanushree Das Cast: Mohini Sharma, Harish Khanna, Sadhna Singh, Trimala Adhikari, Saumya Jakhmola, Shivam Sharma

Logline: After her husband of 52 years dies, Mrs. Sharma defies the expectations of her family and refuses to move in with them, choosing instead to forge her own path and strike up new friendships that make her the talk of her small town.


Geetu Mohandas’ Moothon (The Elder One)

India/2019/119mins/Malayalam, Hindi / Los Angeles Premiere
Producer: Vinod Kumar Screenwriter: Geetu Mohandas Cinematographer: Rajeev Ravi Editors: Ajith Kumar, Kiran Das Cast: Nivin Pauly, Shashank Arora, Roshan Mathew, Sanjana Dipu, Sobhita Dhulipala

Logline: 14-year-old Mulla leaves home behind to find his long-lost brother in the dangerous streets of Mumbai, falling under the sway of a local crime boss with secrets of his own


Documentary Features

Baljit Sangra’s Because We Are Girls

Canada/2019/85mins/English, Punjabi / Los Angeles Premiere
Producers: Selwyn Jacob, Shirley Vercruysse Screenwriter: Baljit Sangra Cinematographer: Grant Baldwin Editors: Carmen Pollard, Jessica Dymond Cast: Jeeti Pooni, Kira Pooni, Salakshana Pooni, Narinder Pooni, Gurdev Pooni

Logline: The dark underbelly of a Punjabi Canadian family in Williams Lake, British Columbia lies exposed when three sisters break more than two decades of silence by taking legal action against their sexually abusive cousin and confronting the members of their immediate family who enabled him.


Jesse Alk’s Pariah Dog

USA/2019/77mins/Bengali, English / Los Angeles Premiere
Producer: Jesse Alk Screenwriters: Jesse Alk, Koustav Sinha Cinematographer: Jesse Alk Editor: Jesse Alk Cast: Subrata Das, Malika Sarkar, Kajal Halder, Pinaki Dasgupta

Logline: Four marginalized, deeply compassionate individuals battle with personal pain, poverty and social discrimination to do the thing they love above all: take care of the pariah stray dogs that roam the streets of Kolkata.



Karishma Dev Dube’s Bittu

India/USA/2020/17mins/Hindi / World Premiere
Producer: Mary Evangelista Screenwriter: Karishma Dube Cinematographer: Shreya Dube Editors: Colin Elliott, Karishma Dube Cast: Rani Kumari, Renu Kumari, Saurabh Saraswat

Logline: When adversity strikes, the future may depend on Bittu, a defiant young girl with a brilliantly foul tongue.


Deepak Sethi’s Coffee Shop Names

USA/2020/8mins/English / Los Angeles Premiere
Producer: Valerie Steinberg Screenwriter: Deepak Sethi Cinematographer: Jack McDonald Editor: Stephanie Kaznocha Cast: Danny Pudi, Karan Soni, Kausar Mohammed, Anders Holm

Logline: As they wait for the barista to call out their coffee drinks, three Indian colleagues fantasize about their alternate personas that inspired their fake Americanized names.


Ambiecka Pandit’s Custody

India/2019/23mins/Hindi, English, Bengali, Marathi / US Premiere
Producer: Ambiecka Pandit Screenwriters: Ambiecka Pandit, Karan Pandit Cinematographer: Satya Rai Nagpaul Editor: Atanu Mukherjee Cast: Karan Pandit, Trimala Adhikari, Geetika Vidya, Swaroopa Ghosh, Tanaji Dasgupta, Sanghmitra Hitaishi

Logline: When carelessness results in tragedy, a group of friends celebrating New Year’s Eve in Mumbai turn on each other.


Siddharth Chauhan’s The Flying Trunk

India/2019/13mins/Pahari / World Premiere
Producer: Siddharth Chauhan Screenwriter: Siddharth Chauhan Cinematographers: Yashwant Kumar Sharma, Siddharth Chauhan Editors: Kartik Jaryal, Ish Sharma & Siddharth Chauhan Cast: Arush Thakur, Divya Tegta Saagar, Zunchi Devi, Sheetal Mehta

Logline: In a remote Himalayan village, a young orphan boy’s imagination is fueled by his eccentric grandmother’s fantastical tales.


Ragini Bhasin’s Ghazaal


Producer: Kevin Wang Screenwriter: Ragini Bhasin Cinematographer: Connor Vickers Editor: Emma Wang Cast: Ghazaal Khirandesh, Bilal Khirandesh, Farid Khirandesh

Logline: A resourceful teenager living in a refugee camp where basic personal hygiene has become a luxury is on a mission to survive the onset of her menstrual period.


Lawrence Valin’s The Loyal Man

France/2019/37mins/Tamil, French / US Premiere
Producers: Simon Bleuzé, Marc Bordure Screenwriters: Marlene Poste, Lawrence Valin Cinematographer: Maxence Lemonnier Editor: Anais Manuelli Cast: Lawrence Valin, Aurora Marion, Anthonythasan Jesuthasan

Logline: A devoted henchman’s loyalty to Sir, the feared leader of the Parisian Tamil mafia, is shaken when he takes a young immigrant woman under his wing.


Nishtha Jain’s Proof (Saboot)

India/2019/20mins/Hindi / Los Angeles Premiere
Producer: Ritesh Jaltare Screenwriter: Nishtha Jain Cinematographer: Deepti Gupta Editor: Nishtha Jain Cast: Ritesh Jaltare, Susmita Sur, Martin Jishil, Nidhi Mishra, Aman Jeet, Rakhi Mansha

Logline: A novice gynecologist at a government hospital in Delhi gets a lesson in callous indifference and bureaucracy when a victim of sexual assault arrives for care at his clinic.


Mahesh Pailoor’s The Shower

USA/2019/14mins/English / World Premiere
Producers: Adil Chamakh, Pia Shah Screenwriter: Pia Shah Cinematographer: Taylor Frontier Editor: Mahesh Pailoor Cast: Pia Shah, Emily C. Chang, Rupak Ginn

Logline: Two worlds collide when Maya’s oldest friend shows up at her baby shower, single and child-free.


Aarti Neharsh’s The Song We Sang

India/2020/20mins/English, Hindi / World Premiere
Producers: Rahul Tejwani, Chintan Bhatt, Manan Bhatt Screenwriters: Aarti Neharsh, Chintan Bhatt Cinematographer: Nishant Gala Editor: Manan Bhatt Cast: Serena Walia, Ayushi Gupta

Logline: Roaming the streets of Ahmedabad on a festive Navaratri night, two young women may have the chance to fall for each other.


Arun Fulara’s Sunday

India/2019/10mins/Hindi / North American Premiere
Producer: Arun Fulara Screenwriter: Arun Fulara Cinematographer: Rangoli Agarwal Editor: Kaivalya Kayande Cast: Shrikant Yadav, Prakash Joshi

Logline: A middle aged man makes a pilgrimage to his favorite barber shop every Sunday, rain or shine. And it’s not just for a shave.


Andrew Carter’s Uncle

USA/2019/12mins/English / World Premiere
Producers: Kahlil Maskati, Andrew Carter, Omar Maskati, Cory Yee, Amy Hartman Screenwriter: Kahlil Maskati Cinematographer: Patrick Ouziel Editor: Andrew Carter Cast: Omar Maskati, Ajay Naidu, Rizwan Manji

Logline: A father and son’s daily morning commute is the perfect time for some good bickering and their chance for connection