Several films by Indian-American filmmakers were scheduled to be screened at the 35th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival at select cinemas in the Los Angeles area.
A key highlight of the annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month activities, the festival is produced by Visual Communications, the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, and enjoys broad support from cinema artists and audiences alike.
There are 18 films featuring LGBTQIA characters in the festival, as well. These films, ranging from a drama about a transgender woman in Pakistan to a bisexual threesome gone wrong, were screened from May 3 to 12. Films screened included “Halwa,” directed by Gayatri Bajpai and Nirav Bhakta; Mragendra Singh’s “The Night Before,” and “Normal,” and Jhanvi Motla’s “Spinsterhood.”
“Halwa” tells the story of Sujata Chopra, an empty-nester, who, on the eve of her wedding anniversary attempts to find some joy in her broken marriage, until she learns about the passing of her childhood companion’s spouse on Facebook. Having been disconnected from this woman for over 30 years over a misunderstanding, Sujata finds the courage to reach out to send her condolences. They reconnect, sparking friction when Sujata’s controlling husband, Dr. Chopra, finds out.
“The Night Before” revolves around Shae, a deaf Indian-American bride, who, on the night before her wedding, pays a visit to her ex, Nikki, whom she ghosted. Upon seeing each other for the first time after years, they confront bottled up emotions and unanswered questions. The film will screen on May 8 at 9:15 p.m.
“Spinsterhood” explores the clash between cultures, beliefs, and generations. Sara Chatterjee, a 29-year-old first generation Indian-American, is terrified of coming out to her parents. Meanwhile, her parents are horrified she’s "single" at 29. Sara navigates coming-out, Indian traditions, and her parents' obsessive matchmaking. The film will screen on May 6 at 8:30 p.m.
“Normal,” director Mragendra Singh’s effortlessly strong feature film debut, explores a marriage and the evolving notion of returning to the status quo. Marriage is already complicated. Mix in the birth of your first child and suddenly the small moments are completely magnified beyond control. For Aniket and Leah, the specifics of what is normal has changed. The film will screen on May 8 at 9:15 p.m.
Hammad Rizvi’s “Rani,” which screens of May 7 at 9:00 p.m., tells the story of a socially outcast transgender woman who sets out to take care of an abandoned child. Set on the streets of Pakistan, she is determined to do the right thing amid waves of challenges.
Other films to be screened include Varun Chounal’s “Curd,” about Hira who is visiting her son in the U.S., and feels trapped in her house and struggles with the alien culture and language; Mukesh Vidyasagar’s “Ganja Mama,” about an Indian mother who discovers her daughter’s stash, and takes things into her own hands; “The FOB and I,” by Meenakshi Ramamurthy about Jisha from India and Sita, and an Americanized Indian are forced to live together in one Hollywood apartment, realizing their similarities and differences; and “The Girl Icon,” directed by Sadah Espii Proctor.