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15th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles kicks off tonight

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LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — Now in it’s 15th year, the Indian Films Festival of Los Angeles is scheduled to kick off tonight with the premiere of “Lipstick Under My Burkha.” Widely recognized as the premiere showcase of groundbreaking Indian cinema globally, this year’s rendition of the festival will take place from April 5-9, and will be held at Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center.

“As India’s diverse array of talented filmmakers continues to be recognized around the world for their compelling and daring work, IFFLA is extremely proud to collect the best films from emerging voices and experienced masters and present them to Los Angeles,” said Mike Dougherty, Director of Programming, in a press release.

Lipstick Under My Burkha, directed by Alankrita Srivastava

Lipstick Under My Burkha, directed by Alankrita Srivastava will open the 15th edition of the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles

The festival will open with “Lipstick Under My Burkha,” which features an ensemble cast of Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak, Aahana Kumraand Plabita Borthakur in a dramatic, but irreverent and vibrant film about women and faith. The film was first screened in Tokyo in 2016 and has since been lighting up the festival circuit. including just winning the Audience Award at the Glasgow Film Festival. The film’s director, Alankrita Shrivastava, will be in attendance at the screening.

Some of highlights include:

‘An Insignificant Man’ The political climate in India has seen the rise of a leader with rags to riches story. Narendra Modi the current Prime Minister of India gained in popularity rose to the top, while another man Arvind Kejriwal, challeged the status quo and the establishment forming a new party called the ‘Aam Admi Party’ or AAP translated mean Common Man’s Party.

‘An Insignificant Man’ takes you through an astounding journey with the behind-the-scenes access attained by first-time documentarians Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla. Embedded in Kejriwal’s campaign for a year, these new filmmakers use their exclusive footage and media coverage to piece together a gripping, eye-opening account of the AAP’s herculean effort to wrestle power away from an establishment long divorced from the needs of its people.

Sexy Durga IFFLA alum Rajshir Deshpande stars in the controversial and provocative “Sexy Durga”, directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan. It is a road trip movie that exposes the vulnerability of women in Indian society to exploitation that masquerades as chivalry. 

Shorts Program, Spice Sisters

Shorts Program, Spice Sisters

A personal favorite of mine is the shorts programs. It is a wonderful way to sample many different types of films and stories. Many filmmakers have showcased their short film at IFFLA and have returned with a feature film. It is something special to witness the filmmakers’ journey and be able to interact with them at this intimate film festival.

This year’s shorts programs are full of vibrant and boundary-pushing films. I spoke with Managing Director Nitin Sonawane about the upcoming festival and what guests can look forward to this year. One main point is how the festival strives to be on the pulse of what is happening in India. Also, Nitin Sonawane added that you can look at one film and think, “Wow, this is going on in India and then look at something completely different and that is also going on India.”

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This year’s festival will close with a screening of “Hotel Salvation,” the debut feature of Shubhashish Bhutiani, whose 2013 short film “Kush” was shortlisted for the Live Action Short Film Oscar and won IFFLA’s 2014 Audience Award. “Hotel Salvation” premiered in the College Cinema section of the 2016 Venice Film Festival. The film’s star Adil Hussain (Life of Pi, Umrika, Parched) will attend IFFLA’s Closing Night gala representing the film.

This year’s festival will also mark the world premieres of two films, the North American premieres of five additional, as well as five U.S. premieres. This festival premieres work representing nine languages, and highlights a combination of exciting first and second-time filmmakers and experienced cinema masters returning with new work.

Gala tickets, passes and more information about the festival can be found at www.indianfilmfestival.org .

Diya TV is a media sponsor of the festival.

Arts & Culture

Indian CEO’s meet with President Trump in London

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Indian CEOs and Trump

LONDON (Diya TV) — A number of prominent Indian CEOs from the US and the UK met with President Trump during a breakfast roundtable on his visit to London. Members of the American cabinet were also in attendance, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, as well as the president’s daughter, Ivanka.

The Punjab government announced free education for girls in government schools and colleges from Nursery school to the PhD level. They also announced free Wi-FI for 13,000 schools and all 48 government colleges.

Rayna Gokli McIntyre will be a new District Court Judge in Colorado, becoming the second South Asian member to the bench in that state.

In New Jersey, Zahid Quraishi was named a U.S. Magistrate Judge, becoming the first Asian American federal judge in that state.

And Karamjit and Karawjit Singh took danger to new heights with this coconut and melon smashing display on America’s Got Talent, all while wearing a blindfold.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Trump ends $5.6B GSP trade preference for India

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WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — President Trump is ending $5.6 billion worth of trade concessions for India under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences program effective this week, saying India failed to assure the U.S. that it would provide ‘equitable and reasonable access to the markets of India.

Bay Area Congressmembers Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo reintroduced a bill to save work authorization visas for H-4 holders whose spouses are on track to get a green card. Many of those eligible are Indian American women.

Oklahoma’s State Board of Education released new social studies standards, which for the first time include Sikhism. Nearly 700,000 students in Oklahoma public schools will now learn more about the Sikh community, in this effort spearheaded by the Sikh Coalition.

The Golden State Warriors played through two more injuries to rotation players to beat the Raptors in Toronto 109-104 to even the NBA Finals at a game a piece.

Diya TV’s Ravi Kapur and Jonathan Choe are on-site and will have more courtside.

And we talk to the stars of Netflix’s newest romantic comedy ‘Always Be My Maybe,’ a feature that offers a story & characters Asian Americans will find relatable from some of the most talented names in Hollywood.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Arts & Culture

Campaigning stopped in West Bengal due to violence

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West Bengal violence

KOLKATA, India (Diya TV) — For the first time in India’s electoral history, the Election Commission ordered campaigning to stop a day early in West Bengal because of violence between political factions in Kolkata.

SAALT released an overview of the growth in the South Asian demographic around America and it shows the community is increasing exponentially.

SAALT says the South Asian population in the U.S. grew a stunning 40% in seven years, from 3.5 million in 2010 to 5.4 million in 2017.

The first ever Sikh American mayor of a large city, Ravi Bhalla, was portrayed by a New Jersey-based website in a photoshopped image as an Arab dictator. Supporters of Bhalla, who is the mayor of Hoboken, are denouncing the image as racist and want the “Hudson Mile Square View” to take it down.

And the Indian government held an event at the Cannes Film Festival to promote the world’s largest film industry.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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