Consul General Helps Announce Fifth Indian Film Festival
By Jawahar Malhotra
HOUSTON: In a small but intimate gathering of supporters, Board members and the media at his private residence in the Memorial area on Thursday, August 22, Indian Consul General Parvathaneni Harish helped to announce the forthcoming Fifth Annual Indian Film Festival of Houston. “Indian films are in our blood,” said Harish, who, along with his wife Nandita, is a big supporter of the arts. “Bollywood still rules”, he added as he introduced a “bright young dancer” Riya Mandalpu to show exactly how pervasive Indian films and music is. “It is very satisfying that the IFFH has grown,” he concluded.
On a small area in the living room cleared of furniture that had been moved aside and with a boombox to provide the dance music, Riya, an energetic 13 year-old who is a student of Rathna Kumar’s dance school and a friend of the Harish’s daughter Amani, started off with some classical dance steps, telling a story with her hands and gestures. The medley of music then morphed into music from Bollywood movies and then into bhangra-folk-contemporary pop music, all of which she danced to with creative steps and playful abandonment.
“I was just sweating sitting there!” said Sutapa Ghosh, the founder of the IFFH as Riya finished her routine. Talking about this year’s line-up of 92 submissions, Ghosh said she was “humbled that the Festival has achieved such growth even as it is run by unpaid volunteers”. As we are celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema, Ghosh said that Indian movies are technically correct and it was hard to choose which movies would be screened from the 92 submissions the Festival had received. The Festival will run from October 4 through 6 at the Asia Society.
From this year on, Ghosh said that the Festival would be screened at the Asia Society, whose Board member, the well-known attorney Charles Foster was among the audience. She went on to thank a community activist, Ellen Goldberg, for being the backbone of the Festival; Houston philanthropist and supporter of the arts Carolyn Farb for “making everything perfect” and the Houston Arts Alliance for their support.
Rick Fergusson, the Executive Director of the Houston Film Commission said a few words about the growth of the movie making business in the Bayou City, saying that the Texas Legislature had increased the access to film promotional funds to $95 million as well as the incentives from 15% to 20%, to which the City tacks on another 2.5%. “We are now in the same league as Louisiana and New Mexico in incentives”, he said, adding that “we are attractive to international producers and specifically to Indian film making.”
Noting that India makes a great many movies every year, Harish said that there were plenty that were made in languages other than Hindi. He looked forward to a good festival this year, as the group broke away for dinner that was based on cuisine from Northeast India and was made at home by Nandita Harish and her staff. “Most Indian food we get is based on North India and Punjabi cuisine,” she said. “I wanted to highlight some of the great cuisine from the northeast, which has influences from China and Thailand.”