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Creative Loafing serves up a nice slice for us!

Posted by Tiffany Razzano on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 3:27 PM

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Listen Amaya kicks off the fourth annual Tampa Bay India International Film Festival, which will be held this weekend, Feb. 15 - 17.

Listen Amaya kicks off the fourth annual Tampa Bay India International Film Festival, which will be held this weekend, Feb. 15-17.

The Tampa Bay Area's fourth annual India International Film Festival, just days away, promises to introduce filmgoers to different facets of Indian culture.

From documentaries to touching family dramas, the festival, which runs Feb. 15-17 at Muvico Centro Ybor, features something for everyone.

"The cool thing is that there is nothing like it in the entire state of Florida," said Hetal Gandhi, the festival's director of press and media. "And over the past four years, it's turned into one of the premiere Indian film festivals in the country."

Francis Vayalumkal, former president of the Indo-US Chamber of Commerce in Tampa, founded the festival with a two-fold mission in mind. One, he wanted to create a cultural event that would bring together the local Indian community. According to the film festival website, the Tampa Bay area is home to more than 35,000 people of Indian descent, a demographic that continues to grow at a steady pace and contributes approximately $3 billion in revenue to the local economy. But secondly — and perhaps more importantly — Vayalumkal wanted to expose others to Indian issues and culture.

"People always associate Indian film with Bollywood," Gandhi said. "But Indian films go beyond the musical numbers of Bollywood ... There's more to Indian culture than that. The festival's films showcase Indian issues that are more real than what you see in Bollywood cinema."

The festival kicks off Friday, Feb. 15, with a red carpet event, VIP reception, and dinner, followed by Listen Amaya, the first screening (8:30 p.m.). Directors Avinash Kumar and Geeta Singh will be in attendance for a Q-and-A segment following the movie. The film, which tells the story of a mother-daughter relationship in a contemporary, urban setting, stars Deepti Naval, a famous Bollywood actress turned indie and art house darling.

In the documentary Yoga Is: A Transformational Journey, California-based yogi and director Suzanne Bryant deals with the grief of losing her mother to cancer by traveling to India in search of a deeper meaning of the practice of yoga. Bryant will be available for a Q-and-A session after the film is shown on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. The next day, she'll teach a free yoga class at 11 a.m. in Centro Ybor's courtyard.

Also on Saturday, catch: Planes, Trains & Autorickshaws, a documentary about three American sisters raised in India by missionary parents who return to the country of their childhood for the first time in 50 years; Gattu, the tale of an illiterate street boy whose ambition is to fly kites; and A Gran Plan, about the moving friendship between a troubled young boy and an older lady.

Sunday, Feb. 17, features Valley of Saints, the debut from Musa Syeed. Showing at 8:10 p.m., the film — which was screened at Sundance Film Festival where it won the World Cinema Audience Award and Alfred P. Sloan Prize — follows Gulzar, a young tourist boatman who is forced to run away from his home in Kashmir because of war and poverty. Through Gulzar's story, Syeed highlights the issues faced by many Indians who struggle to balance the country's contemporary issues with its cultural traditions as the world changes around them.

Also on Sunday, catch: Little Terrors, the story of a 13-year-old American boy recruited by a terrorist group to bomb a U.S. embassy in Delhi; Highway, a film that explores and interweaves five different relationships during an ill-fated bus journey through Nepal; and Paanch Adhyay, which focuses on the love story of a contemporary Indian couple.

The pass for the opening night film and reception is $50 and a three-day festival pass can be purchased for $75. One-day passes ($25) and two-day passes ($40) are also available. Individual movie tickets are $5 or $10 depending on the film. Until Friday at 9 a.m., you can get 2-4-1 one-day, two-day and three-day passes on our CL Deals page!

For more ticket information, go here. For more information about the event schedule and complete lineup, go here.


Hetal Gandhi

PR & Media, India International Film Festival Tampa Bay








Ten Things You Should Know About IIFF Tampa


-The India International Film Festival to bring Indian culture and issues to the big screen here in Tampa


-2,000 people attend over the three day period of the festival each year


-Our Fourth Annual festival is being held in Ybor for the first time, after Channelside Cinemas shut down earlier this year


-The festival attracts filmmakers from around the world


-This year’s line-up includes 22 films, 14 world premieres and films in more than half a dozen languages, with English subtitles


-Contrary to the Bollywood film scene, these are unique, independent works of art that range from comedy to drama


-The festival has provided a platform for filmmakers, actors and distributors to collaborate on future projects


-Our films, cultural performances and food give festival goers a chance to experience India without ever leaving Tampa Bay


-IIFF Tampa kicks off the film festival season here in the Bay Area


-The festival has helped launch local talent and encouraged new filmmakers, who were inspired by what they saw on the big screen



The films highlighted in red are press opps for filmmakers/actors who will be attending the festival.  Interviews will be available on Friday starting at 6:30 p.m on the red carpet.  For Press Credentials, please contact Hetal Gandhi





Opening Night Feature – Friday, February 15th, 8:30pm, Theatre 7


Listen Amaya


Directors: Geeta and Avinash Kumar Singh (in Attendance and available for Q&A with guests after film)


Summary – Listen Amaya is about the relationship between a widow and her daughter, and what happens when, to the dismay of the daughter, the mother falls in love with a new man.


Trailer -


-Stars former Bollywood actress turned independent filmmaker Deepti Naval (who attended IIFF Tampa last year)

-It also stars Farooq Shaikh who was paired up with Naval in several Bollywood films in the past.

-This is Avinash Kumar Singh’s debut film


Directors Geeta Singh (Middle) &

Avinash Singh (Right)


Potential Questions for Geeta and Avinash


You actually wrote this script specifically for Deepti and Farooq, as a debut filmmaker, what was it like to work with people who have been in the industry so long?


What were the dynamics of having a combination of an older generation of Bollywood stars and then a young cast of newcomers?


Deepti said that one of the reasons she wanted to do this film is because it’s a subject that’s never been covered in Hindi films, do you think the topic of a widow finding love again is taboo in Indian culture?








Indelible Saturday, Feb 16th, 1:00pm, Theatre 1

Directed By: Pavitra Chalam

Short Film Duration: 17 Mins

Summary - Indelible (The short) is an introduction to a feature length documentary created specifically for the World Down Syndrome Congress (2012), South Africa and is the official film for the Down Syndrome Federation of India(DSFI). The film is a collage that knits together the stories of 7 people with Down Syndrome in India. Dr. Surekha Ramachandran, Co-Founder and present Chairperson of the DSFI introduces us to the world of Down syndrome and these 7 remarkable stories by sharing her own association which began with the birth of her child, Babli. The film offer a peek into how the lives of people and communities can be enriched when they look beyond the complexities and open their arms to tolerance and inclusion.



Yoga Is (a documentary to transform and empower) - Saturday, February 16th, 1pm, Theatre 1


Director: Suzanne Bryant (in Attendance and available for Q&A with guests after film and she will also be teaching a free yoga class at Centro Ybor at 11am on Sunday)


Summary -  This documentary follows Suzanne Bryant’s journey to India to discover the powers of yoga, after her mother faced a tragic battle with terminal cancer. 




-Suzanne is a former 60Minutes II producer

-She enrolled in a 500 hour teacher training with Alan Finger of Ishta Yoga in NYC in 2000.  In India she studied Ashtanga Yoga with Pattabhis Jois and his daughter Saraswati, Bhakti Yoga and the teachings of Guru Neem Karoli Baba with scholar Syham Das in Vrindavan, India as well as Yoga and Ayurveda in the South of India, Kerala with Shiva Rea.

-She currently lives in California where she teaches yoga classes


Filmmaker Suzanne Bryant


Potential Questions for Suzanne


You were already practicing yoga when your mother was diagnosed with cancer, so why did you feel the need to go to India to learn more about yoga?


In your documentary, you interview a lot of celebrities like Russell Simmons and Christy Turlington.  Why do you think so many celebrities are drawn to yoga?


You had a near death experience in India… tell us about that and how the journey to India itself changed your life?

Planes, Trains & Autorickshaws, Saturday, Feb 16th, 1:00pm, Theatre 7
Director: Scott Sheppard
Documentary Feature: 87 mins
Trailer -

Summary - Three American sisters, raised in India by missionary parents, return to the land of their childhood for the first time in fifty years. Their journey is entertaining and emotional, and proves that it's never too late to go home.



A Gran Plan, February 16, 3:00 p.m., Theatre 1
Director: Sangeeta Nambiar

1 hr 45 mins | Feature

Trailer -


Summary - What happens when a troubled young boy meets with an old lady who's living her own share of problems? A GRAN PLAN explores this sensitive relationship that develops over time. It intricately weaves a story that has the protagonists overcome boundaries of age, language and culture and reach out to each other to form a lasting friendship. Peppered with moments of fun, A GRAN PLAN is a drama set in Singapore, starring the very talented FARIDA JALAL and an upcoming actor, ten year old OLIVER KENNETT.




JanaGanaMana, Saturday, Feb 16th, 2:50pm, Theatre 7
Director: Vijay Kumar Das
Short Film Duration: 12 mins
Language: Hindi

Summary - This story is about child laborers who work in Hotels, sell toys, national flags at traffic signal. They don't know the value of the national flag and national Anthem. One of them tries to sing national anthem after sneaking into a school on independence day, but he couldn't sing as he didn't know the lyrics. This film depicts how they sing the national anthem and honor the national flag and the national values..

Shaya, Saturday, Feb 16th, 2:50pm, Theatre 7
Director: Amir Noorani (In attendance and will provide a Q & A session after the film)
Short Film Duration: 19 mins
Language: Urdu

Summary - After a tribal Pakistani family is sent to live in Los Angeles as refugees, a young boy is forced to become the patriarch of his family. While the move might seem welcome, the family struggles to assimilate with other members of the community and finds life in Los Angeles more challenging than in war-torn Pakistan. Tragedy ultimately strikes after an unfortunate confrontation with neighborhood kids, which raises the question of who is to blame.

Director Amir Noorani

Amir Noorani is a first generation Pakistani-American attending USC’s acclaimed School of Cinematic Arts.
- He has worked as a fashion photographer in Europe and was a computer science major before getting into film.

This will be the eighteenth short film he has directed.

Potential Questions for Amir Noorani

How did your experience of helping an Afghan family in Houston help inspire this script?

You’ve often said that things are not black and white in life and there’s always more than one side to every story, how does this film capture that idea?

You were a photographer before you were a filmmaker.  What’s your choice of cameras these days and are you experimenting with anything new?

Larry Brought Lemon, Saturday, Feb 16th, 2:50pm, Theatre 7
Director: Ujjwal Patel (Attending for Q&A along with actor Devin Parentice)
Short Film Duration: 22 mins
Language: Hindi/English

Summary - A father must bring the cake home on his son's birthday where everything that could lead to his accomplishment goes wrong. Larry Brought Lemon is a comic drama about a father “Larry”, who tries hard to convey his love for his son “Billy”, who is soon turning ten. Billy demands for an ultimate birthday gift. Larry plans a surprise by sending his son’s video to a show ‘Happy Birthday America’. Unfortunately on the day of Billy’s birthday, bakery bells out by saying they cannot deliver the cake. Larry goes to pick up the cake and things go wrong.

 Director Ujjwal Patel      Actor Devin Parentice

Potential Questions for Ujjwal and Devin
Ujjwal, how did you come up with this story line and do you feel like there are a lot of “laugh out loud” moments in this film?

Why did you pick Devin for this role and did you have any unscripted comedy taking place during the filming?

Devin, this movie is all about making birthdays special, so what’s been your favorite birthday surprise?

Ehsaas - Saturday, Feb 16th, 2:50pm, Theatre 7
Director: Sunil Nair (Q&A with Director Sunil Nair and Producer Mini Sarma)
Short Film Duration: 21 mins
Langauge: Hindi

Summary - Sometimes when you run past life, you might need to stop & look back, to move forward.
Ehsaas is the story of two people who meet through a matrimonial website. Despite being a successful businessman, Adi is unhappy & lonely. Anu too has been through a couple of failed relationships. After sharing their life experiences, they are unsure of how things will turn out for them.

      Director Sunil Nair                   Producer Mini Sarma

Potential Questions for Sunil Nair and Mini Sarma

Sunil, you seem to have a running theme of love and relationships in many of the films you’ve worked on.  What did you have to do to set this matrimonial story apart from what we see everyday in Bollywood films?

Mini, you live in the United Arab Emirates. What was it like filming this there and tell us a little bit about the explosion of Indian culture there as well.

We just celebrated Valentine’s Day.  Is there a theme about love that each of you wants the audience to walk away with?

Daadi - Saturday, Feb 16th, 2:50pm, Theatre 7
Director: David Stoler
Short Film Duration: 18 mins
Language: Hindi/English

Summary -  She was a star during Bollywood's Golden Age. Now, she's an 87-year-old grandmother living in a senior home in Harlem. Daadi is the true story of magic and memory, and the difference between living and being alive.



Sidekick (3D Animation) - Saturday, Feb 16th, 2:50pm, Theatre 7
Director: Amrinder Jassar
Short Film Duration: 6 mins

Summary - Sidekick is a short film about a farmer, Utth, who lives in the middle of no-where. When Utth runs out of gas, he must rely on an unlikely partnership with a carrot-loving donkey to get him to the market on time.



Gattu, Saturday, Feb. 16th, 5:10 p.m., Theatre 1

Director: Rajan Khosa
90 mins | Hindi |2011

Trailer -


In this town, the sky is full of kites, and all the kids are obsessed with kite-flying. The kite, Kali, rules the skies. No one knows who flies Kali. No one can defeat Kali. An illiterate street urchin takes up the challenge. With neither money nor education on his side, he sets out for his goal. Dreams aren’t impossible when the desire is strong.


Story: An illiterate street boy has only one ambition - to fly kites and reign supreme in the blue skies. And he will turn around everything in his small world to string his dream together.


Viswaroopam, Saturday, Feb 16, 5:15pm, Theatre 7
Director: Kamal Haasan
Language – Telugu
Feature: 147 mins

Summary - Vishwaroopam is a thriller about Vishwanath alias Wiz, a Kathak exponent, and Nirupama. Each have an agenda and seem to have achieved their wishes in three years of matrimony.Nirupama gets her Ph.D and Wiz runs his dance class in New Jersey unhindered by each other. All is fine till Dr. Nirupama aspires for more and wants to opt out of the arranged marriage. She cannot cite any specific reason to leave Wiz as there is nothing much to complain about him.  Every male according to Nirupama must have a flaw. So she decides to find out something about him to feel better about her decision to part. She hires a detective to rake up something on him. Wires get cross-connected and all hell breaks loose.



Listen Amaya, second showing, Saturday, Feb. 16th at 7:10p.m, Theatre 1





Free Yoga Class taught by Suzanne Bryant, Sunday, Feb. 17th at 11:00am at Centro Ybor Courtyard area, bring yoga mats.  Admission is free to anyone.  Attendees receive $5 dollars off of day pass.



Sambhavna, Sunday, Feb. 17th, 1:00pm, Theatre 1

Director: Joseph Malone

20 Mins | Short Documentary


Summary - Self shot documentary about the ongoing Bhopal Chemical Disaster in India. Focusing on the Sambhavna Clinic, a primary healthcare center providing free medical care to victims. Filmed in 2010 by two medical students from the University of Liverpool. Edited in 2012.





Leaving Home, Sunday, Feb. 17th, 1:00pm, Theatre 1
Director: Robert Richter (Q & A with Director Robert Richter and Host Michael Mahar)

1 hour 13 mins | Documentary Feature


Summary - Leaving home is different for Renu, a rural north India teenager. Can she fulfill her dreams and become a teacher and live in the big city? India's 1.2 billion people mostly live in rural villages. 'Leaving Home' focuses on Renu and her coming of age in one village. The film is about women's rights, rural life, India, castes, untouchables, marriage, weddings, family, motherhood, fatherhood--tradition and change. Michael Mahar, a colorful American anthropologist, has intermittently lived in Rankhandi over a half-century. Our guide and storyteller, he has seen the village move from the 18th to the 20th century before his eyes. Nishu Varma, journalist and our interpreter, talks with women with no men present, and has revealing conversations like never before in a film. 


   Director Robert Richter (Right)               Host Michael Mahar


-Robert Richter has received a long list of awards including an Emmy, a 2010 Motion Picture Academy "short list" for best doc shorts and three duPont Columbia Broadcast Journalism awards. 

-With passionate dedication he has dealt with tough controversies, risking his career and sometimes his life as his hard hitting documentaries investigate governments, international agencies and corporations. 


Potential Questions for Robert Richter and Michael Mahar


Robert, in what ways is this story uniquely Indian and in what ways is this something that all of us experience, no matter where we live?

Did you run into any problems during filming in India?


Michael, if you could share one thing with our audience about Indian culture that they may not already know, what would you tell them?


















Saari raat, Sunday Feb. 17th, 1:00pm, Theatre 7
Director: Parimal Aloke
Short Film Duration: 24 mins
Langauge: Hindi

Summary - Based on a story by the eminent Hindi author Kamtanath, 'Saari Raat' is a conversation between a couple on the second night of their wedding when at the groom's behest they decide to honestly exchange confidences. What follows via the mountain-made-out-of-a-molehill situation is an affectionate satire on the chauvinism latently present in every male and an endearing portrait of a young, middle class, small town Indian mentality.

Party, Sunday, Feb. 17th, 1:00pm Theatre 7
Director: Santosh Davakhar (Q &A with Director Santosh Davakhar)
Short Film Duration: 29 mins
Language: Marathi

Summary - In today's world, under nutrition and hunger are vital issues. Children in rural areas are often starved. In such a situation, rural marriage food, which seems to be unhygienic for an urban community is just like party for these poor children. But even at such a party, these poor children go hungry.

   Director Santosh Davakhar

-Santosh is a Marathi film actor turned filmmaker who has worked on a long list of films

Potential Questions for Santosh Davakhar

You have been a huge proponent of bringing the Marathi film industry to the same level of commercial success as Bollywood.  What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in trying to do this?

What inspired you to make a film that addresses the issue of children and poverty?  Is it something that you’ve seen firsthand?

You’ve said that some of the roles you would love to play would be Al Pacino in The Godfather or Tom Hanks in Cast Away, so let’s see your best impression of either one of those.

Do Pahar, Sunday Feb. 17th, 1:00pm, Theatre 7
Director: Shazia Shrivastava and Sarifa Roy
Short Film Duration: 29 mins
Language: Hindi/Marathi

Summary - Do Pahar is about an unlikely bond that develops between an old woman and a hit man. As the afternoon progresses in wait for Bilal's target, Sudha kindles in him humanity and a few forgotten memories of his childhood while he, in turn, instills in her a newfound fortitude. Endearing and fearless like its protagonist, Do Pahar is a compelling tale about two people that blur the lines between right and wrong.

Un.Kahi, Sunday Feb. 17th, 1:00pm, Theatre 7

Director: Samrat DasGupta

Short Film Duration: 8mins

Language: Hindi

Summary - The strength of a relationship lies in understanding the unsaid words. Over months of massage sessions, a bond of sisterhood develops between a rich woman and her masseuse. She tells stories of her happy married life and her loving husband. Through her stories, the masseuse sees the kind of love every girl grows up believing in. But are her words true? Or is there a larger truth, unsaid? Experience a sensitive portrayal of two women and the strength of human relationships beyond spoken words.


Little Terrors – Sunday, Feb. 17th, 3:00 p.m., Theatre 1

Director: Maninder Chana (Q & A with Director Maninder Chana and Producer Ken Gill)

1 hr 43 mins |


Summary - A 13-year-old American boy is recruited by terrorists to bomb a U.S. embassy in Delhi. After being brainwashed, he is sent to live with a Muslim family prior to the attack. However, the man harboring him begins to play a dangerous game when he attempts to convince the boy not to go through with the bombing.


      Director Maninder Chana


-The director of the film Maninder Chana is a multi-faceted personality. From being an award winning writer, director, producer to an actor and musician, he has done it all.

-Both Maninder and Ken are based in Canada

-Film stars famous Bollywood/Hollywood actor Om Puri (who was also in Indiana Jones Temple of the Doom)


Potential Questions for Director Maninder Chana and Producer Ken Gill


This film has sparked a lot of controversy, what type of criticism have you received about the film?


As Punjabi filmmakers, how do you perceive the issue of terrorism in India?


How does the independent Indian filmmaking scene in Canada compare to the U.S.?



Highway – Sunday, Feb. 17th, 3:10pm, Theatre 7

Director: Deepak Rauniyar

Nepali | 2012



Summary - Set against the backdrop of the new culture of bandhs (general strikes) that frequently immobilize post-conflict Nepal, Highway explores five different relationship stories that become intertwined during an ill-fated bus journey from eastern Nepal to the capital, Kathmandu. While the passengers - each of whom urgently needs to be somewhere else - await a resolution to the combustible strike that is blocking the only passable road, the film explores the psychological and spiritual bandhs that many Nepalese contend with.



Viswaroopam – Tamil version, 5:15pm, Sunday, Feb. 17th, Theatre 7


Paanch Adhyaay, Sunday, Feb. 17th, 5:15pm, Theatre 1

Director: Pratim Dasgupta

1 hr 53 mins | Bengali feature



Summary - Paanch Adhyay is the story of love found, love lost and love regained in the lives of a contemporary Indian couple, told in moments past and present, through the five chapters of a relationship. Plunged into the mighty depths of love from the moment they meet in Kolkata, Arindam and Ishita get married but their very different ideologies - towards life and art - push them apart. He becomes a filmmaker who gets naturally sucked into the pleasures that come with success in showbiz, a change she the school teacher just cannot fathom. Their drifted worlds come with secrets that they have to share with each other one fateful night - the night that will change their lives forever.



Closing Night Film


Valley of Saints, Sunday, Feb. 17th, 8:10pm, Theatre 1

Director: Musa Syeed

82 mins | Kashmiri | 2012




Summary - War and poverty force Gulzar, a young tourist boatman, to run away from Kashmir with his best friend. But a military crackdown derails their escape, and they become trapped in Gulzar's lake village. Waiting for conditions to change, they discover a mysterious woman, braving the curfew to research the dying lake. As Gulzar falls for her, rivalry and jealousy threaten his boyhood friendship and their plans of escape. Gulzar must choose between a new life and a new love. The first film set in the endangered lake communities of Kashmir, Valley of Saints blends fiction and documentary to bring audiences inside this unique world.



Press Releases

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Tampa, FL - The 4th Annual India International Film Festival Tampa Bay celebrated tremendous success...
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