14th Indian Film Festival of Houston: A Rousing Success

HOUSTON: For the past fourteen years, Sutapa Ghosh, Founder and Executive Director of the Indian Film Festival of Houston (IFFH), has watched the annual event mature. What began as an idea to introduce Houstonians to true Indian cinema has grown both in size and in scope, attracting movie-goers not only from our local diverse communities but from other parts of the country and world.

IFFH Board Members

Ghosh wanted to make this year very special because India is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its independence. At the same time, it’s the celebration for Satyajit Ray, considered to be among the “100 Greatest Film Directors Ever,” who was born a century ago this year.  He was the inspiration for many brilliant filmmakers around the globe.  Ray won multiple awards, including ones from Berlin, Tokyo, Cannes, Venice, Russia, and Yugoslavia. He also received the French Legion of Honor from the President of France, as well as an Academy Honorary Award here in the United States.

Master of Ceremonies for the Festival held at the Asia Society Texas Center was Jose Grinan from FOX26 Morning News and Board Member of IFFH.  He introduced Indian Consul Sandeep Choudhury who launched this year’s Indian Film Festival of Houston.

Indian Consul Sandeep Choudhury (center) with IFFH Founder Sutapa Ghosh and board members.

The first film shown was Ray’s Charulata (The Lonely Wife), based on a tale by India’s first Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore.  It is the story of a talented woman married to a newspaper publisher so involved in his business that he neglects his wife.  She falls in love with his cousin who is helping to develop her literary talents.

A reception was held between the screenings.  Attendees included Consuls General and Deputy Consuls General from countries including India, Korea, Mexico, and Angola.  They were treated to Indian delicacies from the Verandah Restaurant while enjoying the sounds of Moodafaruka, a band that combined Indian instruments (the sitar and tabla) with western ones, creating fusion music.

Returning to the theater, Grinan introduced Houston Councilwoman Dr. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz who gave Founder and Executive Director Ghosh a Proclamation on behalf of Mayor Sylvester Turner declaring October 15, 2022 as Indian Film Festival of Houston Day.

The second film was Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players), based on a true incident in 1856. Chess, a game invented in India, became an obsession among many, including noblemen who are depicted in the film that takes place in 1856.  They ignore the historic event taking place—the British take-over of the Indian princely state of Awadh whose capital is Lucknow.

Next year the Festival will celebrate its fifteenth anniversary.  Special plans are being made for the event which will move to February 23-25, 2023.  It will include film screenings, Q&As, international filmmakers, entertainment, a sit-down dinner, and an awards ceremony.

The Festival is grateful to all of its Board Members, Sponsors, Patrons, Supporters, and Volunteers.