Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition 2021

The Bagri Foundation was part of the jury again this year for the Satyajit Ray Short Film competition. Short films are the way in which filmmakers cut their cloth. It allows them a chance to experiment with editing, cinematography, script, direction and more. The fine tuning of one’s voice, and the pressure to tell a story in a short amount of time, prepares filmmakers for making that leap to feature films with more confidence. The competition also means visibility for new directors, so each time the audiences watch a screening, they are supporting emerging talent. As such, it was a great excuse to focus on watching the 11 films that form part of the two-part strand – some we watched more than once!

Our Head of Arts, Chelsea Pettitt joined LIFF Film Programmer Krushil Patel, editor-in-chief of Total Film magazine and Vice-chair of London Critics, Jane Crowther, and Film and TV critic for the BBC, Rhianna Dhillon. There was a general consensus among the group about the strength of the films, with stand out first time filmmakers and those who have swept film competitions across the world. With each film meriting their own strengths, it was fantastic to support this important strand for filmmakers. 

Below, you can find the Bagri Foundation team’s thoughts on each film, in alphabetical order. You can see the full line-up on our Events page – Part 1 and Part 2 – both online and in cinemas. Don’t forget, the winner will be announced on 2 July at the Closing Night Gala! 



Year: | Country: Pakistan
Director: Hamza Bangash | Run time: 17 mins | Language: Urdu

The only film in Urdu, 1978 captures a time of upheaval and chance in Pakistan, through the power of music and rebellion. The opening credits instantly tell you what you’re watching, and the clothes, music, typography and set design are right on target for the setting of this story. A wonderful brotherly relationship is portrayed, as a result of the loss of their parents, and the care that comes across feels apt for this time of change. With his subtle narrative, unusual camera positioning, and impactful cinematography Hamza Bangash is a filmmaker we look forward to seeing more from!


Year: | Country: India
Director: Sushma Khadepaun | Run time: 18 mins | Language: Gujarati

Anita is a film which surprised us all. Through subtle acting, the characters discuss ideas of the patriarchy, control, marriage and expectations from living abroad. There was a freshness to these conversations, with assumptions being made about characters because of their lives in America, both by us and the family. A scene in which the viewer feels like a voyeur, the camera just far enough away, is captured with an energy that really left us in turmoil, helpless. This unexpected film is well worth a watch.  

B. Selvi & Daughters

Year: | Country: India
Director: Drishya | Run time: 24 mins | Language: Tamil with English Subtitles

Right from the opening shot, this film tackles the patriarchy in family and business life. The mother daughter relationship is extremely convincing, especially the gaps in knowledge between them and the expectation for a woman not to have to work. There were intimate camera angles with a hand-held motion which made the viewer feel as if they were on the street or at the table with the family which we really enjoyed.  Although there were moments of doubt by the characters throughout, the film ends on an uplifting note which really complements the entire short film strand.



Year: | Country: India
Director: Karishma Dev Dube | Run time: 17 mins | Language: Hindi, English with English subtitles

This film is incredibly special. At the heart lies an astute young actress who perfectly captures the personality of a cheeky girl in her local school. With little details such as a runny nose and her inability to understand English class, the viewer senses her feeling of being an outsider. However, this mischievous trait is ultimately what sets her apart when a tragedy strikes. Capturing neglect, power and indifference, plus the tactful use of music made us really enjoy this film. 


Black Goat

Year: | Country: Nepal
Director: Tang Yi | Run time: 12 mins | Language: Nepali, English

The only film from Nepal this year, the setting in a young nun’s convent was really fantastic. Echoing the rumours and tales that circulate in an all girl’s school, a young girl panics over starting her period and expects the worst due to a ghost story. Through her distinct vision and lots of humour, the Director Tang Yi takes us on a journey with the protagonist as she, along with goats, chickens and butchers, question how she can avoid the curse of the Black Goat.  A tight vision with a strong sense of style, it is a must-watch! And wait for the treat at the end of the credits.  


Dhulo (The Scapegoat)

Year: | Country: India
Director: Tathagata Ghosh | Run time: 25 mins | Language: Bengali

The Scapegoat is quite an unnerving film, yet completely worth tuning in for. From the incredible opening scene, the viewer is in for a classic revenge thriller. Elements of farcical and over the top dramatic scenes, echo a genre of filmmaking that Tarantino fans love. A slightly lost narrative doesn’t take away the joy and thrill of the story which ends on a satisfying note of women’s empowerment and independence.


Frayed Lines

Year: | Country: India
Director: Priya Belliappa | Run time: 20 mins | Language: Kodava, Assamese with English subtitles

It was unanimous that the filmmaking in this piece of work was stunning.  A story referencing migrant workers on a coffee plantation is juxtaposed with close-up shots of worker ants. There’s a larger issue to hand regarding citizen’s rights which the Director could have made more explicit, but the acting from the two protagonists and the journey they go on make for an important tale of the futility of running away from your problems.


Year: | Country: India
Director: Apoorva Satish | Run time: 16 mins | Language: Tamil with English subtitles

For the jury, this film stood out for its use of symbolism and incredible underwater shots. The atmosphere which Director Approva Satish created through lighting made for a sumptuous and effective mood in Kanya. It’s a classic tale of a young woman who hits puberty as everything changes around her. We never see the parents face, yet all decisions are made for Kanya without consideration for her own thoughts. The soundtrack also adds to the beauty of the film and the independent spirit of Kanya.


Year: | Country: India
Director: Alisha Tejpal | Run time: 21 mins | Language: Hindi, Marathi

Lata is a perfect example of a fly on the wall story told through observational filmmaking. This form relies on a slow burn, as characters reveal themselves through their relationship to others. Some shots such as Lata sweeping the floor, or sitting outside of the bathroom whilst the owner uses it, or a visitor not drinking directly from his cup, hint at the relationship we are witnessing between servant and employer. Alisha Tejpal deftly captures labour and servitude without having to say much. A very skilled piece of filmmaking and only her second film. We cannot wait to see more from her.

Sumamine (Wade)

Year: | Country: India
Director: Tathagata Ghosh | Run time: 25 mins | Language: Bengali

As the only animation in this year’s line-up, and set in a dystopian future, this film really got the jury talking. The illustration itself is stunning, and the story makes reference to classic philosophical tales. How do families survive a flooded Mumbai where wild animals run loose and can attack at any time? How do we protect ourselves and our loved ones? The details in the eyes of the animals and the people were heartbreaking and surreal (think no pupils!) and the resulting tragedies on both sides were unexpected. A haunting film which really stuck with us. 


Year: | Country: Bangladesh
Director: Ariq Anam Khan | Run time: 19 mins | Language: Bangla with English subtitles

The characters in Transit were instantly likeable and relatable. A common story about trying to find work and waiting for immigration papers, it was very well written and acted. The universal issues around having and supporting your family, whilst also having the pressure to find work, potentially abroad, raises a lot of discussions around what is important in life. Measuring our success in a rapidly changing world is at the heart of this film with subtle and moving portrayals by the protagonists. 
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