Indie Meme Film Festival returns to Austin mid-April with diverse lineup

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Collage of South Asian filmmakers being featured at Indie Meme Film festival in Austin, TX. Photo courtesy organizers
The Indie Meme Film Festival in Austin, TX, featuring independent South Asian cinema, is returning to theaters this year after a pandemic hiatus.

The Festival had gone virtual in 2020 and 2021, and now comes back in a hybrid format: In-person screenings will take place April 14-17 at Austin Film Society (AFS). Those wishing to watch the festival virtually can stream them April 22-24.

“We are really looking forward to being back at AFS for IMFF2022 with the audience, like it was meant to be,” festival co-founder Alka Bhanot is quoted saying in the press release. “Of course our online edition will continue for our virtual family.”

With their mission of highlighting socially relevant cinema, the festival this year draws attention to topics of childhood opportunity, access to arts, science and film education, women’s empowerment, cultural traditions and shifts, human rights, disability, caste and racial tensions, climate change, class, immigration, mental health, abusive and loving relationships, LGBTQ+ experiences and more, the press release said.

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Women direct one-third of the festival titles, and 18 percent of the lineup features LGBTQ+ characters and stories.

Programming Chair and festival co-founder Tripti Bhatnagar described this year’s Festival a ‘exceptional’ with both virtual and in-person availability.

List of films being featured at the Festival include:

Centerpiece feature RK/RKAY + Q&A with star Rajat Kapoor

The film stars veteran Indian actor-director Rajat Kapoor, who gained international fame in Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding. Kapoor will attend IMFF from India and participate in a Q&A after the film screening. The film is a surreal comedy in which a director’s failing project is further destabilized when the lead character runs out of the edit and into real life. In this entertaining and witty narrative, writer, director, and star Rajat Kapoor takes the audience on an existential journey.

Opening Night Feature The Last Film Show with Red Carpet Appearance + Q&A with Director Pan Nalin

A grand tribute to the love of movie-making fromAngry Indian Goddesses and Samsara director Pan Nalin, which took second place in the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival’s Audience Award Competition. This party autobiographical drama, set in Gujarat, India, is an engaging, heart-expanding story of a child discovering his own creative capacities. The film is a tribute to the transition from 35mm to digital movie-making and a passion for cinema propels the child to create means to watch movies in the old-fashioned way.

Oscar Nominee Lunana

A Yak in the Classroom on the big screen. Lunana unexpectedly broke into the competitive ‘Best International Film’ category at this year’s Oscars, becoming Bhutan’s first nominee. Director Pawo Choyning Dorji and crew shot the film on location in the world’s remotest village school, using solar-powered equipment and collaboration with local villagers.

Pebbles, India’s Offical Oscar Submission and Top Prize Winner of 2021’s International Film Festival of Rotterdam

Also a Texas debut at the festival. The story of a boy following his father on an overheated road trip to find his mother, and she has left due to domestic abuse.The film creates a powerful cinematic experience through simplicity, minimal dialogue, and exceptional visual storytelling.

U.S. Premiere of Cannes Debut and Asia Pacific Screen Awards Grand Jury Prize Winner Rehana

The film, a taut feminist drama, follows an assistant professor who witnesses an incident between a professor and a female student. Her pursuit of justice leads her into a maelstrom of controversy, as the medical college would rather close the case quietly than pursue action. Lead performer Azmeri Haque Badhon is marvelous in the moral, confrontational role of Rehana and earned the ‘New Talent Award’ at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival and ‘Best Actress’ at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. The film became Bangladesh’s official 2021 Oscar submission.

Barah x Barah + Q&A with cinematographer Sunny Lahiri

Chronicles the life of a photographer who captures images of the dead in Varanasi, one of India’s oldest cities. Lahiri will headline a Q&A session after the screening.

Other feature films at IMFF 2022 include BanglaHit The RoadA Night of Knowing NothingMidwivesI Am BelmayaAny Day NowMoshariReceiver and Biriyaani.

The festival’s diverse Shorts Program features 16 films: BambirakBlind DateBaaharMono No AwareSheer QormaMiniaturist of JunagadhMy Mother’s GirlfriendKanyaU For UshaTestimony of AnaNot TodayWadeChaiAn Early SpringA CoupAn Early SpringTurning Point and Cycle.

Baahar, a University of Texas at Austin Project

This 14-minute short directed by Prakshi Malik was awarded grant from Austin Film Society. It tells the story of a student dealing with disaster after being accepted into the boarding school of her dreams.

North American Premiere of A Coup

Areeba Naveed’s 8-minute short from Pakistan narrates the story of a young girl who comes out, and a psychiatrist’s attempt to intervene.

Sundance Prizewinner Bambirak

This German-Afghan production won the Best International Fiction Award at 2021’s Sundance Film Festival. It’s the story of a single dad and his daughter trying to establish their life in a new country

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