Indie Meme Film Festival Brings South Asian Discussions to Austin

AUSTIN: Indie Meme, a non-profit organization, brings its 8th Film Festival (IMFF2023) during April 12 – 16 to Austin. This year’s festival will be held at the AFS Cinema, which presents itself as a marvelous backdrop for independent cinema, dialogue, debate, and discussion.

The festival provides a platform for talented filmmakers from South Asia and Iran to showcase their unique untold stories. Award-winning actors and filmmakers from the global cinema fraternity attend IMFF every year. This year, Kalki Koechlin, lead actor, and Pushan Kripalani, director of the festival’s opening night film ‘Goldfish’ will be in attendance alongside Leena Yadav, director of ‘Tell it like a Woman’.

Representing 13 countries, the festival covers over 30 films, in 17 different languages (with subtitles) which touches on global issues such as mental health and wellness, challenges of an aging mind & body, indigenous rights, women empowerment, poverty, freedom of speech, coming of age, family life, among others. These stories remind us that, despite our geographic and cultural differences, we all face similar challenges, and viewers will see the varied approaches taken by communities to solve these.

One unique aspect of this festival is that audience members get to candidly engage with the filmmakers after each screening, to exchange different perspectives, and explore the premise further! The festival offers a hybrid experience for patrons outside Austin to tune into a virtual festival program scheduled on April 28 – May 1.

Nominated for the Best International Documentary at the 95th Academy Awards – “All That Breathes”. The story focuses on two brothers who work to save black kite birds, which are essential to the ecosystem of New Delhi. They are falling from the sky due to environmental toxins. It is the first film to win the The Best Documentary Prize at both Sundance and Cannes.

The Festival opens with “Goldfish”. Directed by Pushan Kripalani and starring award-winning actor Kalki Koechlin, and veteran actor Deepti Naval the film tells the story of a young woman who returns home to care for her mother with dementia and confront the painful memories of her childhood. With its sensitive portrayal of mental health and complex family relationships, “Goldfish” is a powerful and thought-provoking film that is sure to captivate audiences at IMFF 2023.

Filmmaker Leena Yadav will be at the screening of her Oscar-nominated “Tell it Like a Woman.” This film is an anthology of short films, made by women, about women. In 7, different female protagonists navigate challenges in their life. The movie features Academy Award-winning actresses Jennifer Hudson and Marcia Gay Harden. Additionally, the film’s song “Applause,” written by Diane Warren, was nominated at the Academy Awards this year. Leena Yadhav’s Sharing a Ride starring Jacqueline Fernandez emphasizes the value of being seen for who you truly are.

The Iranian film “Leila’s Brothers” will have its Texas premiere at IMFF2023. The film was awarded the International Critics’ Prize in 2022 for best film in Cannes main competition. Boasting a tour de force ensemble, Leila’s Brothers is a masterful family drama that echoes Greek tragedies.

This year, the festival scored two international premieres – “Dhabari Quruvi” and “Eikhoigi Yum.”

“Dhabari Quruvi” (meaning: Sparrow, Its Father Is Unknown) is the world’s first film starring and with vocals by tribals! This film by veteran filmmaker Priyanandanan is exquisite and features a completely indigenous cast from Attappadi, Kerala. The story centers on a young girl who decides to rebel against tribal norms and claim her body and the decisions surrounding it. Spoken only in ‘Irula’ language, Director Priyanandanan says that if language is a barrier to understanding the film, the emotion in the story will answer it.

“Eikhoigi Yum” (Our Home) is a Manipuri film directed by Romi Meitei, who will be present at the IMFF2023. It is the tale of an 11-year-old boy, from an isolated fishing community, who has an undaunting spirit to excel at school, despite personal and financial challenges. The whole film paddles around the Loktak Pat Lake and its dependents. Through astounding cinematography, the film depicts the lives of those who live in homes built over floating biomass!

See the Texas Premiere of the documentary “In Search of Bengali Harlem” from the author, historian Vivek Bald & stand-up artist, actor and comedian Alaudin Ullah. Both creators will be in attendance. In the documentary, Alaudin investigates the pasts of his Bangladeshi immigrant parents, unearthing a lost history in which South Asian Muslims, African Americans, and Puerto Ricans forged an extraordinary multiracial community in the tenements of mid-20th century Harlem. This program was made possible in part with a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Indie Meme alum filmmaker Vinay Shukla’s 2nd documentary, “While We Watched,” focuses on the journey of India’s NDTV reporter Ravish Kumar as he navigates the restrictions on journalism, his career, and threats in his personal life.

IMFF 2023’s closing night film will be “Polite Society,” where a martial artist-in-training believes she must save her older sister from her impending marriage. After enlisting the help of her friends, she tries to pull off the most ambitious of all wedding heists in the name of independence and sisterhood.