Indie Meme Highlights South Asian Cinema
Film festival brings outsider stories to the forefront
Creating a diverse and inclusive community has always been one of the goals for the Indie Meme Film Festival. Now in its fourth year, the festival brings together an abundance of South Asian films and filmmakers to premiere their films right here in Austin. Festival co-founder Alka Bhanot said, "The incredible diversity we have from within the South Asian continent, language, and culture is amazing."
The film festival has grown from single screenings to a four-day affair with screenings, filmmaker Q&As, and mixers. Bhanot said she wants to continue to show audiences stories that they "don't see otherwise," as they spotlight shorts, documentaries, and feature-length films from around the globe like India, Pakistan, the U.S., France, Iran, and Afghanistan. Fellow co-founder Tripti Bhatnagar said, "Our audience has grown [and] we've had more numbers of filmmakers from diverse backgrounds, in terms of countries and languages. We have really seen some big-time progression and we are really glad about that."
Bhatnagar added, "Cinema can really stir things up. It can open dialogue. It can start some change, so [Indie Meme] provides a platform and a safe environment for which people could open up about, from their relationships to personal to social issues to any challenges they have been facing in life."
Bhanot and Bhatnagar see a common theme of this year's screenings as the "other perspective," tapping into the outsiders' side of the story. The festival kicks off with chef-turned-filmmaker Vikas Khanna's The Last Color, a film that focuses on a 9-year-old girl and a 70-year-old widow on the fringes of society. Centerpiece film Her. Him. The Other presents three distinguished filmmakers' perspectives on life in Sri Lanka after the decades-long civil war, while Subash Sahoo's documentary The Sound Man Mangesh Desai focuses on one of India's top film sound engineers. His work defined many Bollywood movies, "[yet] you don't really hear much about sound editors," said Bhatnagar, "so this is again somebody who added tremendous value to every project he touched and he's an unsung hero."
"We look at stories that will resonate with our audience," Bhandot said. And when the films shown at Indie Meme do affect audiences, she said, "It's music to my ears."
Indie Meme Film Festival, April 26-28, @AFS Cinema, 6406 N. I-35. Tickets and info at www.indiememe.org.