Christina Marouda is the founder and chair of the board of the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. The star-studded event, well in its 11th year, is expected to attract film-lovers and important industry-players, April 9-14 at the Archlight in Hollywood.
Eleven years ago, an ambitious Greek girl from Crete arrived in the U.S. and began working on her concept to create the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. Back then, people may have called her crazy (let’s face it, she wasn’t even Indian!), perhaps even suggesting that she abandon her dream of putting together a festival which could serve as a bridge between Bollywood and Hollywood. Now Cretans are known to be stubborn, so maybe this is the reason why Christina Marouda, together with a great team of volunteers, managed to create the largest and most popular Indian Festival in North America.
When people ask Christina how a Greek managed to start an Indian Festival, she responds: “When I was a little girl in Crete, my sister’s friends from India would send us tapes of their favorite films…we would invite all our friends for a half-day celebration of drama, dance, songs…I loved it and it grew in me deeply.”
There was a lot of cold-calling in the early stages of the festival, as Marouda and her associates reached out to filmmakers to submit for IFFLA’s inaugural program. The small but dedicated team pursued sponsors, secured travel arrangements and hospitality for guests, and pounded the pavement from Hollywood to Little India to raise support and awareness for the festival.
“We look back on our first decade with a sense of exhilaration and pride. From the very beginning, our mission was to establish a film festival that would not only pave the way for a greater appreciation of Indian cinema and culture in the U.S., but also serve as the portal between the two largest entertainment industries in the world,” says Marouda.
While IFFLA sprung from modest means, the drive and dedication of Marouda and her ever-growing team proved fruitful as the festival developed into a breeding ground for emerging talent. IFFLA’s first ever Film Fund Grant winner Kranti Kanade’s winning script, “Against Itself (a.k.a. Gandhi of the Month),” is now a feature film starring Oscar-nominated actor Harvey Keitel in the lead role.
Marouda points out, “We’ve had filmmakers who came here with a three-minute short film some years ago, their first time out of India, who are now making films with U.S. studios and are being represented by top agencies like Creative Artists Agency.”
IFFLA 2013 Line Up and Red Carpet events
Today, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) proudly announced its 2013 lineup of narrative and documentary features and short films for this year’s festival. The impressive program reflects the rich diversity of Indian cinema, which is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year, as well as the future of Indian filmmaking, with cutting-edge filmmakers bringing their acclaimed films to Los Angeles.
Highlights include: a special screening of Mira Nair’s THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST, a political thriller based on the New York Times bestseller with a star-studded cast; MISS LOVELY by Ashim Ahluwalia, a dark look at the seedy underbelly of Bollywood C-movies and soft-porn during the 1980’s, that premiered in Un Certain Regard at Cannes last year; PEDDLERS, Vasan Bala’s directorial debut, which premiered at the 2012 International Critics’ Week, a crime thriller following the desperation of young drug runners who are merely looking to survive; SHAHID, based on the true story of Shahid Azmi, a human rights activist murdered in India in 2010, directed by Hansal Mehta and produced by Guneet Monga and Anurag Kashyap; and Sundance and Berlin favorite SALMA, directed by Kim Longinotto, a documentary about one South Indian woman’s courageous journey in the face of mass oppression.
The opening and closing night red-carpet galas include screenings of Anurag Kashyap’s GANGS OF WASSEYPUR, which will open the festival, while Deepa Mehta’s MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN will be featured as the closing night film.
The festival is widely recognized as the premiere showcase of groundbreaking Indian cinema globally. Celebrating its 11th year, IFFLA will run April 9 to 14 at ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles, the festival’s home since its inception.
“Our slate of films this year showcases path-breaking works of emerging and established Indian filmmakers that are making waves at top-tier film festivals around the world,” said Christina Marouda, IFFLA’s Founder and Chair of the Board.
Attending the festival this year to present their films will be a host of celebrated filmmakers, including Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta, Anurag Kashyap, Guneet Monga, Hansal Mehta, Vasan Bala, Nitin Kakkar, and S.S. Rajamouli among others.
Two films at the festival this year celebrate the power of Indian cinema: CELLULOID MAN, a documentary about beloved Indian film expert and archivist P.K. Nair, and the charming FILMISTAN, the fictional tale of one man’s love of Hindi films and how cinema has the power to unite us all.
More information about all the films in the line-up can be found below and at http://www.indianfilmfestival.org.