IFFM 2023: Top ten things to look out for

Our pick of must-have experiences at this year’s Indian Film Festival of Melbourne.

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1. 100 films in 20 languages

The IFFM program this year showcases the breadth and diversity of Indian cinema. The advent of OTT platforms has opened new vistas for cinema lovers, as they’ve engaged with films from parts of India and South Asia other than their own. With the program boasting of films in Bengali, Kashmiri, Urdu, Marathi, Assamese, Kannada, Tamil, Santali and Sinhalese among others, the picks this year are a true reflection of the cultural diversity of the Indian subcontinent. I’m not sure how many of us are aware that there are films made in the Santali language, let alone one that’s as brilliant as Dharti Latar Re Horo in the program.

2. Opening Night: World Premiere of Ghoomer

The Opening Night film for this year is R. Balki’s Ghoomer, to be screened at Hoyts Docklands. Inspired by the true story of Hungarian athlete Karoly Takacs, the film has been adapted to an Indian context. Starring Saiyami Kher, Abhishek Bachchan and Amitabh Bachchan in lead roles, the film is a story of a cricketer with a physical disability.

(Source: IMDb)

3. Cannes get enough…

Not to miss also are two of the four Indian films that screened this year at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. These include Kanu Behl’s harrowing dissection of Indian toxic masculinity in the film Agra (which screened at the Director’s Fortnight section at Cannes), and Anurag Kashyap’s latest and eagerly awaited film Kennedy (which screened at the Midnight Screenings section at Cannes).

If you’re keen to broaden your cinematic horizons and take a chance on a film that would otherwise slip under the radar, there’s a wonderful selection of films which deserve your attention – Chaar Chappalein, Family, Follower, Joram, Maagh, Three of Us, and While We Watched, just to name a few.

Mainstream fans, you’ll make a beeline for Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani.

Hammer Hall
(Source: What’s On Melbourne)

4. IFFM Awards Night at Hamer Hall, Arts Centre

I had once unofficially dubbed the IFFM Awards Night as the “Filmfare Awards Down Under” and the night lives up to that moniker every time. The Awards Night spectacular has a new home this time – the prestigious Hamer Hall in the Arts Centre. It’s bittersweet to bid goodbye to the Palais Theatre, which was the spiritual home of the Awards Night for the past several years. At the same time, I’m excited at the prospect of engaging with some of the most talented creatives from the subcontinent at the venerable Hamer Hall. The Awards Night is always a hot ticket item at IFFM and I’d recommend securing your seat early if you don’t want to miss out.

IFFM Flag Hoist
(Source: IFFM)

5. Independence Day celebrations

IFFM 2023 will not be complete without the flag hoisting ceremony commemorating India’s Independence Day. As always, the occasion and the ceremony are expected to draw massive crowds as the streets of Melbourne are infused with the celebratory fervour of the occasion.

6. IFFM Dance Competition

Show Me The Thumka. Shraddha Kappor may have posed this wager in the Luv Ranjan film Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar, but the challenge is out Australia-wide now, thanks to IFFM. Thumka-waalaas, show IFFM 2023 Dance Competition judge Malaika Arora if your thumkas, latkas and jhatkas have got what it takes.

New venue for the comp too – The Great Hall at NGV.

Young Bhangra Dancer
(Source: IFFM)

7. Q&A Special Screenings

There are quite a few Q&A screenings where you can interact and engage with filmmakers, cast and crew. Some of the highlights are All India Rank (the debut feature of Varun Grover comes straight after the International Film Festival of Rotterdam), Tora’s Husband (my favourite film yet of director Rima Das, who will be in attendance), and Ghaath (coming straight from the Berlin International Film Festival).

All India Rank
(Source: IMDb)

8. ‘My Melbourne’

Local talent? We know there’s loads of potential out there. IFFM will be doing its bit to showcase this to the world. In an exciting collaborative step, it paired up established industry creatives from India with local creatives from Australia to foster creative exchange, as part of the ‘My Melbourne’ initiative. Mentor directors and their mentee creatives will share their learnings from this process at the Community Hall, NGV.

9. Virtual program goes from strength to strength

Can’t attend IFFM 2023 screenings and events in person? It doesn’t matter. The team at IFFM have curated a program of over 60 films that will be streaming for free Australia-wide. The presence of a strong virtual program is an exciting new addition to the IFFM roster. This is in addition to IFFM 365 – an initiative that gives access to watch curated Indian films around the year virtually, streaming for free.

Kids with Indian flag
(Source: IFFM)

10. Stardust and selfies

There’s no question that the diaspora is celebrity-obsessed, and here in Australia, IFFM 2023 is the best opportunity to engage with your favourite stars in an up-close capacity. So, this year, stay close as the stardust shakes off the shoulders of Karan Johar (who’s taken over from Simi Grewal in Melbourne just as he has on Indian television), Mrunal Thakur, Bhumi Pednekar, Kartik Aaryan, Saiyami Kher, Rima Das, Onir, Anjali Menon, and festival favourite Malaika Arora.

Catch the full list of events and screenings at IFFM 2023 here.

READ ALSO: Stars at IFFM 2022 as festival returns to cinemas

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