LIFF 2021 – To India with Love

Still from W.O.M.B. 2020. Dir Ajitesh Sharma.

In a challenging year for India and South Asia, the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival and its sister festivals in Birmingham and Manchester, will be a love letter to the homelands, continuing to premiere the very best of new indie films from the Indian subcontinent and diaspora, from 17th June to 4th July 2021. 

The Bagri Foundation is pleased to support the online platform this year. You can view the full line-up for the festival at their website, or the online programme in our Events page.

Supported by the British Film Institute (BFI) using funds from the National Lottery, the in-person festival will include the Opening Night UK Gala Premiere of W.O.M.B. (Women of My Billion), an inspirational feature documentary telling of one woman, Edinburgh based Shrishti Bakshi, who walks the entire length of India (nearly 4,000 kms), over 240 days to explore the experiences of other women in its billion plus population. Another highlight of the festival is our special focus on British Asian filmmakers and their continued contribution to British cinema’s success, while often depicting realistic stories of British Asian immigrant experience.

Festival Director Cary Rajinder Sawhney MBE says: “Last year we grew our audiences quite substantially by going online and UK-wide. With the UK scene improving, we are delighted to not only offer a strong high definition online experience on, but to also welcome our audiences back to the big screen in 3 major UK cities, at some of their finest cinemas. We will be showcasing the unstoppable force that is India’s rich and diverse filmmaking, and of course the festival will be helping to highlight and support Covid charities working in South Asia. In this year when ‘Britishness’ is being re-defined, we offer our ‘Great British Asians’ strand which will celebrate British Asian filmmakers and throw a spotlight on exciting emerging talents“.

This year’s highlights include Special In Conversations with The Times 50 greatest British screenwriters Hanif Kureshi (My Beautiful LaundretteMy Son The Fanatic), Oscar and BAFTA-winning director Asif Kapadia (Senna, Amy, The Warrior) at BFI Southbank, legendary director Gurinder Chadha (Bhaji On The Beach, Blinded by the Light), alongside the 20th anniversary of the making of her Bend It Like Beckham, and British change-maker feminist filmmaker Pratibha Parmar (Sari Red, The Colour of Britain, Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth) at the Barbican. The festival also celebrates two epochal Indian heroes with the premiere of feature doc Ahimsa: Gandhi The Power of the Powerless and celebrates India’s greatest director Satyajit Ray on his 100th birth anniversary. One of Ray’s greatest actors, the late Soumitra Chatterjee is also profiled in the premiere of Abhijaan, while light-hearted moments are brought with the premieres of Bengali drama Searching For Happiness and black comedy Ashes On A Road Trip.

The Festival’s new strand dedicated to ecology-related films, called ‘Save The Planet’, brings stirring features that in different ways reflect lives affected by deforestation and rising sea levels, and how people are meeting the challenge. As Bangladesh marks the 50th anniversary of its independence, LIFF celebrates the country’s giant strides in global cinema with special screenings of the lyrical The Salt in Our Waters.

Ben Luxford, Head of UK Wide Audiences at the BFI, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the festival again this year. Thanks to National Lottery players we’re able to help bring this exciting programme to cinemas and households across the UK. The focus on British Asian filmmakers this year is a particular highlight.” The National Lottery raises £30 million each week for good causes across the UK.

Title Sponsor, Alka Bagri, trustee of the Bagri Foundation says: “It has been a difficult year for many these past 12 months, and we are pleased to support a little escape for you via LIFF’s hybrid festival this year. Our seventh year as title sponsor showcases classic films and Q&As, as well as a range of UK premieres from some top British Asian and South Asian talent. Whether you attend in person, or watch from the comfort of your sofa, we hope you feel as excited as we are to see fresh faces and legendary stories from across Asian cinema!

Notes to editors:

Participating Cinemas: BFI Southbank, Barbican, Ciné Lumière, Genesis, Rich Mix, Bertha DocHouse, Watermans, Roof East Stratford, MAC Birmingham, Millennium Point Birmingham, Everyman Mailbox Birmingham and Everyman Manchester St John’s & stream UK wide at

Festival Strands

Young Rebel

Great British Asians

Extra-Ordinary Lives

Classic Cinema

Save The Planet

Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition

Too Desi Too Queer

New Brit-Asian Shorts

BSL Special Double Bill: For Each Other & Double Discrimination

Bagri Foundation is a UK registered charity, inspired by unique and unexpected ideas that weave the traditional and the contemporary of Asian culture. The Foundation, with its roots in education, is driven by curiosity and a desire to learn, and aims for each project to challenge, engage and inspire. Through a diverse programme of film, visual arts, music, dance, literature and talks, the Bagri Foundation gives artists and experts from across Asia and the diaspora, wider visibility on the global stage.

Founded in 1933, the BFI is a registered charity governed by Royal Charter. The BFI Audience Fund invests £5.6m of National Lottery funding each year to expand access and encourage greater enjoyment of cinema by connecting audiences with great films – in venues, at events and online.


Special Guests In Conversation

– In Conversation with British film & literary legend Hanif Kureishi CBE – Friday 18th June, 20:20, Live Q&A on stage at the BFI Southbank, ahead of the screening of My Beautiful Laundrette.
– In Conversation with Oscar, Grammy Award, BAFTA winning British film maker Asif Kapadia – Live Q&A on stage at the BFI Southbank, Saturday 19th June, 20:10
– In Conversation with Gurinder Chadha OBE – Saturday 25th June, 20:45, Rooftop East Stratford, celebrating the iconic British BAFTA nominated film Bend It Like Beckham at its 2 decade production mark.
– In Conversation With Bollywood stalwart Padma Shri Karan Johar Online at
– In Conversation With Pan Indian actress and musician Shruti Haasan Online at
– In Conversation with actress Janhvi Kapoor Online at
– In Conversation with Pam Cullen and Nasreen Munni Kabir celebrating the birth centenary of Satyajit Ray at
– In Conversation with Avtar Panesar of Yash Raj Films, about the rise of Bollywood in Britain at
Find the Full Programme for LIFF London here.
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