Pioneering veteran of Indian cinema and talk show hostess, Simi Garewal, will be attending the UK’s leading South Asian film festival to champion female-oriented films, artists and auteurs, UK Asian Film Festival. Historically known as Tongues on Fire and, more recently, London Asian Film Festival, the festival synonymous with programmes featuring strong, South Asian feminist content goes national to mark its 20thanniversary, running in four cities across the UK from 14th – 25th March, now known as UK Asian Film Festival.
Simi Garewal will be attending the Opening Gala Dinner on 14th March at The May Fair Hotel. The veteran Indian film actress, producer, director and talk show hostess will be honoured during an award presentation celebrating female heroes that have challenged stereotypes, broken barriers and pushed boundaries to make a difference. One of the most atypical and avant garde female members of the Indian and international film fraternities, Simi Garewal deconstructed the archetypal female heroine in Indian cinema from her screen debut in the 60’s, a consistent game-changer in the industry as both outsider and insider. Simi will also lead a posthumous tribute to Indian actor Shashi Kapoor (1938 – 2017), with whom she starred in the controversial English language film, Siddhartha (1972), based on the novel by Hermann Hesse, in which she boldly featured in a nude scene – the first actress in Bollywood to do so. The film predictably faced backlash and censorship issues at the time. The Opening Gala Dinner will also feature an In Conversation with actress Mahira Khan, Pakistan’s biggest celebrity transcending borders with a global fan base.
Marking 100 years of women gaining the right to vote in the UK, the theme of UK Asian Film Festival 2018 is F-Rated– known to have denoted films that have been cinematically classified as representing women on film or behind the camera and that are female-centric in subject matter. Filmhouse, Edinburgh (22nd – 25th March); HOME, Manchester (25th March); Phoenix Cinema, Leicester (15th March extended to 31st March); and various venues across London (14th – 25th March) will play host to a carefully curated season of film screenings and events that celebrate female stories, talent and creatives on celluloid.
Dr. Pushpinder Chowdhry, Festival Founding Director says, “We are delighted to be celebrating the festival’s 20thanniversary by expanding nationally and giving audiences across the UK the opportunity of engaging with our programme of screenings, guest talks and events with a strong, feminist theme. From its inception, the festival has always championed gender equality in cinema, launching 20 years back at a time when there was but a handful of Asian women filmmakers and the scope of female roles was restricted to women of a certain age, confined to certain archetypal parameters. We are finally seeing a shift in this, as women continue to create a space for themselves in South Asian cinema, redefining and expanding their roles both in front of and behind the camera and on their own terms. We continue to celebrate those achievements with a rich showcase that represents the ever-evolving contributions and representations of women to cinema.”