NYIFF Line up

NYIFF 2021 Announces Opening, Centerpiece, Closing Night Films


The annual New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) is excited to announce its highly-anticipated showcase films for opening night, centerpiece and closing night. NYIFF is North America’s longest-running and most prestigious Indian film festival. For the second year NYIFF’s virtual film festival will be powered by MovieSaints. The dates are June 4 to 13, 2021.

“The Covid-19 situation in India is heartbreaking and our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost their loved ones.” said Aseem Chhabra, NYIFF Festival Director. “But we made a promise to our audience in the United States and elsewhere. The show must go on. We present the best of Indian cinema from 2020 and 2021.”

“For 21 years, NYIFF has showcased the most impactful and esteemed films and documentaries celebrating India, its people and its heritage,” said Suman Gollamudi, IAAC Executive Director. “The caliber of films on the 2021 lineup includes notable works by award-winning filmmakers, which aim to capture stories that have a truly profound message about our world today. These films have received exceptional praise from critics and audiences around the globe.”

“For the second straight year, we are partnering with MovieSaints to reach a wider audience virtually.”  said Rakesh Kaul, Vice Chairman, IAAC.  “Even during this time of social distancing, this technology allows us to continue the mission of NYIFF and spotlight the very best filmmakers and storytellers featuring India and its culture.”

Each of these films along with the complete collection of NYIFF-recognized titles will be available for viewing starting June 4, 2021 at nyiff.us and nyiff.moviesaints.com.

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Where is Pinki/ Pinki Elli (Kannada), dir. Prithvi Konanur

Award-winning filmmaker, Prithvi Konanur expressed that he “wanted to hold a mirror to society” in Where Is Pinki. Securing praise at the International Film Festival in Goa, this narrative offers a gritty glimpse into the perspectives and experiences of everyday people. The complex tale weaves together the story of Bindu and Girish, a working couple in Bangalore with an eight-month-old baby girl, Pinki. When the baby goes missing, Pinki becomes a frantic effort of search that forces the film’s characters to confront strange places, people and situations that require each of them to reconcile their past, present and futures. Critics have called it “a hard-hitting social commentary on contemporary Indian society and female identity.” The entire work was shot using a handheld camera to add a realistic touch and feel to this social thriller.

Ahimsa Gandhi: The Power of the Powerless (English), dir. Ramesh Sharma

The documentary feature is produced and directed by makers of the Emmy-nominated film, The Journalist and the Jihadi. On October 2, 2019, the world commemorated the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, inspiring award-winning filmmaker, Ramesh Sharma, to revisit the icon’s life and philosophy that still endures today. Shot in India, South Africa, the U.S. and Europe, the film tracks the influence of Gandhi’s non-violence approach on world leaders from Martin Luther King Jr. to the late Congressman John Lewis, Lech Walesa, Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  International musicians U2 and AR Rahman contributed to the title track.  With new voices joining the global dialogue about injustice and systemic racism and the resurgence of nationalism in cities like Hong Kong, the documentary has been hailed as a timely reminder about non-violence movement.”

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WOMB: Women of my Billion (English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu), dir. Ajitesh Sharma, features Srishti Bakshi

WOMB: Women of My Billion is a heart wrenching and heartwarming narrative of the plight, dreams, rights and fight against all forms of violence, that unify the women of today’s India. Where we share a common reality of living and navigating an indefatigable patriarchal society. Through the lens of a UN Women Champion of Change and Commonwealth Points of Light award winner and activist, Srishti Bakshi, we gain the privilege of discovering and understanding the WOMB, which deserves to be respected, empowered and protected. A perspective that stays at the fore of her on foot journey of 3800km over 240 days, from Kanyakumari (South India) to Kashmir (North India) in 2018. The film stands as a crucial testament to the crisis which has only aggravated in these unprecedented times of COVID.

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Fire in the Mountains (Hindi), dir. Ajitpal Singh

This narrative film tells the striking tale of Chandra and her husband, Dharam, who run an inn that hovers high above the only road in a small Himalayan village. The terrain poses a problem for the family, who must transport their son, Prakash, down the mountain in his wheelchair for doctors and school. While Chandra believes Prakash needs more medical attention, Dharam would rather put his faith in a shamanic ritual he believes will rid them of a deity’s curse, the cause of Prakash’s affliction. Tensions increase as their worldviews collide and slowly erode their familial ties. The debut feature from writer-director Ajitpal Singh, the film is a searing portrait of the power dynamics at play between tradition and modernity and the film earned international praise at the Sundance Film Festival. IndieWire said the following, “like ‘Pather Panchali’ in the age of AirBnb and TikTok, Fire in the Mountains empathetically dramatizes the struggles that locals face in a place where tourists come to play.”

Celebrating Indian Icons:

The above films will be rounding out an exciting and keenly relevant 2021 lineup.  In addition to Mahatma Gandhi, this year’s festival will celebrate milestones of two more Indian icons:

Ahimsa is a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and the film’s screening marks the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation

The Music of Satyajit Ray is a documentary that celebrates the 100th birth centenary of Satyajit Ray
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The short documentary: At the Altar of India’s Freedom – INA’s Veterans of Malaysia;  marks the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose
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More information about these and the complete 2021 NYIFF lineup will be made available in the coming weeks.