Tuesday, May 21, 2024



Festival runs 2nd -12th  May in venues across London, Leicester, Oxford and Glasgow 

“Climate of Change” themed programme of films and events exploring 

Societal transformation in today’s world 

UK Asian Film Festival – the world’s longest running South Asian film festival – has announced the dates and theme of its 26th edition. Running at venues across London, Leicester, Oxford and Glasgow from Thursday 2nd – Sunday 12th May, UK Asian Film Festival is presented by Tongues on Fire and is supported by the BFI, awarding funds from the BFI Audience Projects Fund. UK Asian Film Festivalis powered by broadcast partner, Lyca Radio. TV Partner for UKAFF Short Film Competition is Shorts TV.  

UK Asian Film Festival has historically championed South Asian female-centric cinema and women in film – both behind and in front of the camera.  Its programmes have annually sought to disrupt the patriarchal status quo and initiate challenging conversations in its mission to advocate and promote gender equality in cinema.  

This year’s Climate of Change theme reflects the sense that the air is shifting in our society; we are ready to move on from the lived experiences of the recent past. To navigate this journey successfully, the UKAFF programme brings inspiration, joy and moments of delight. Cinema is a tool for change as it brings people closer together, it sparks conversations, amplifies voices and builds empathy. Stories guide us to to confront the complexities of our world with bravery, compassion and action.”

For the first time, UK Asian Film Festival will host its Opening Gala at BFI IMAX, London, taking place on Thursday 2nd May. Among this year’s programme, the UK Premiere of Gunjal (Pakistan, 2023; Director: Shoiab Sultan; Language: Urdu with English subtitles) will take place on Friday 3rd May at Regent Street Cinema. The film tells the story of Shahbaz Bhatti, a journalist in a Punjabi city, covering the acquittal of the man charged with murdering 12-year-old labour activist. Recognising inconsistencies and loopholes in the verdict, he starts digging to find the truth, one lead at a time. 

A Special Tribute Screening of late Tibetan auteur Pema Tseden’s Snow Leopard will take place on Thursday 8th May at The Garden Cinema, London. Described as a pioneer of the Tibetan New Wave, Tseden’s final completed feature, which premiered in 2023 at Venice and Toronto International Film Festival, is set in the vast and stunning Tibetan terrain and uses the fabled creature to pose and probe the universal question of tradition versus modernity. The issue of extinction and preservation is central to the film and reflects the Eastern philosophical wisdom of co-existence versus dominance. 

The UK Premiere of Buelwa(Bhutan, 2023; Dir: Charmi Chheda, Language: Dongkha with English subtitles) will take place on Thursday 8th May at Rich Mix, London. The film is about the trials and tribulations in the lives of three friends grappling with their inner aspirations and worldly distractions, seen through the eyes of a monk who is forced to venture beyond his spiritual cocoon and confront real world challenges as his life gets entangled with them

The Closing Film will be the UK Premiere of acclaimed actor Anshuman Jha’s directorial debut, Lord Curzon Ki Haveli (India, 2023; Language: Hindi with English subtitles) on Saturday 11th May at Regent Street Cinema, London. The black comedy-thriller tells the story of four South Asians abroad in the UK, who meet over an impromptu dinner that leads to a murderous night. Jha will be attending alongside actress, Rasika Dugal. 

The festival’s Closing Gala on Sunday 12th May at Kiln Theatre, London will welcome luminaries from Indian cinema in conversation onstage such as celebrated playback singer, Kavita Krishnamurthy, who will be felicitated with the Lifetime Achievement Award; and actress, Karisma Kapoor, who will be felicitated for her Contribution to Hindi Cinema. Aligned to this year’s festival theme, fashion sustainability will be celebrated with maverick Indian designer, Rina Dhaka, as she discusses her  environmentally-friendly collections and career trajectory alongside a runway show of her most iconic pieces over the years. 

UK Asian Film Festival annually hosts an eclectic mix of films; a thought-provoking lecture series; audience workshops; live performances; visual arts exhibitions; masterclasses; and the annual Short Film Competition.  It celebrates the very best in films with a link to South Asia and the myriad dimensions of South Asian arts and culture.  

Creative Minds of Tomorrow at BFI Southbank on Saturday 4th May will comprise a day of screenings and events commencing with Reuben Library talks discussing new writings about South Asian cinema culture. Dr. J. Daniel Luther, Associate Programme Director, The Rhodes Trust, University of Oxford; and Sunny Singh, Professor of Creative Writing and Inclusion in the Arts, London Metropolitan University will discuss their newly published works. In Queering Normativity And South Asian Public Culture – Wrong Readings Only, J. Daniel Luther explores a wide range of issues, from the construct of canon and notions of nation, marriage and home to women as a post-colonial subject, same-sex sexuality and identity. Sunny Singh’s A Bollywood State Of Mind is a personal, intellectual and emotional journey that crosses five continents and 50 years of modern Indian history and cinema to explore why Bollywood means so much to so many across the globe. 

Industry Workshops in the BFI’s Blue Room will bridge the gap between audiences and industry experts through workshops developing skills, discovering career pathways and implementing practical approaches to fulfil creative potential in cinema. Among the speakers on the day are Civic Studios, Whistling Woods, Resource Productions, Shorts TV, Queen Mary University and BFI.

The day will culminate in two NFT screenings: Behroze Gandhy’s Flight – a tense and moving drama following a young Asian woman as she flees domestic abuse; and a Shorts Programme exploring environmental change in drama, organised as part of Creative Minds of Tomorrow (CMOT) by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) India in association with Shorts TV.

Magical Melodies: Celebrating Mohd Rafi on Sunday 5th May at Elliott Hall, Harrow Arts Centre will celebrate the 100-year musical journey of the legendary, late Mohammed Rafi. Recognised as one of the most revered Indian playback singers, Rafi’s soulful melodies have left an everlasting impact across generations. The event will feature an insightful conversation and unique glimpse into the life and legacy of the musical icon with Rizwan Rafi, Rafi’s grandson. 515 Crew, featuring lead singers Chirag Rao and Amar, will continue the evening with renditions of Rafi’s timeless classics over the decades. 

Celebrating The Golden Girl: Shabana Azmi on Tuesday 7th May at Somerville College, Oxford will celebrate 50 industry years of veteran Indian actress, Shabana Azmi – globally recognised for her work in both Indian and mainstream television, theatre and film. Azmi will be felicitated for her portrayals of distinctive, often unconventional female characters across several genres, following a screening at Phoenix Picturehouse of her pioneering film, Fire (India, 1996; Dir: Deepa Mehta; Language: English). The event and dinner will help raise funds to support the scholarships at The Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development.

UK Asian Film Festival Founder and Director, Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry MBE says, “Join us at the UK Asian Film Festival, where we celebrate feminism, diversity and empower emerging British Asian talents. Our ‘Creative Minds of Tomorrow’ initiative at the BFI Southbank offers exclusive, behind-the-scenes insights and skills workshops led by industry experts, empowering aspiring filmmakers to craft diverse narratives. Through unique cinematic experiences, we aim to shape their identities, boost self-confidence and encourage learning from diverse perspectives. Under the theme ‘Climate of Change,’ we aspire to instil in young filmmakers a profound sense of self-respect and self-worth, fostering personal growth and contributing to societal progress.”

UK Asian Film Festival Creative Director, Samir Bhamra says, “The UK Asian Film Festival’s ‘Climate of Change’ theme serves as a powerful reminder of the need for unity and action. Our programme will take communities on a journey away from the familiar, challenging comfort zones to embrace the transformative. In this critical juncture of political and economic uncertainty, our festival emerges as a vital platform, amplifying voices, igniting conversations and fostering empathy. Now more than ever, cinema becomes a conduit for change, inspiring us to confront the complexities of our world with courage, love and action to bridge divides.”

Raj Baddhan, CEO of Lyca Media says, “We’re thrilled to be selected as the exclusive radio partner of the biggest Asian film festival in the UK. We’ll be enhancing the coverage of UKAFF 2024 across the Lyca Radio Network and bringing our listeners all the updates with film guides, celebrity interviews and live shows from the Opening and Closing ceremony. At Lyca Radio, we believe in connecting with our audiences with things that matter in their community and with UKAFF 2024, we are doing precisely that.”

Website: www.ukaff.com

Join the conversation:


UK Asian Film Festival | X / Instagram / Facebook 

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

2 + 2 =

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles