Zeenat Aman to inaugurate UK's South Asian film festival

Veteran actress Zeenat Aman will open one of the UK's longest-running South Asian film festivals in London next Wednesday with an in-conversation event celebrating her journey in the Indian cinema.The 67-year-old actor, who has featured in some of the biggest blockbusters of Hindi cinema such as "Hare Rama Hare Krishna" and "Qurbani", will kick-start the annual UK Asian Film Festival, which is now in its 21st year.The festival is set to showcase a range of films from South Asia in five cities across the UK Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leicester, London and Manchester until May 4.

Presented by non-profit organisation Tongues on Fire, the festival aims to champion the cause of feminist films by supporting pioneering female artistes and auteurs through this year's theme of revolution."This year's festival will present pertinent stories of the ordinary person told through films that address global challenges of our time," said festival director Pushpinder Chowdhry.

"Revolutions help define who we are; they can either bring glorious freedom to our inner thinking and outer aspects of our lives or restrain us by what we think is acceptable. Only then can we break the boundaries to realise our full potential and to navigate our way in the world," she added.As part of exploring the concept of revolution through the South Asian cinema, the festival will take a look at the #MeToo movement gathering momentum in the Indian and Pakistani film industries and the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the repeal of Section 377 in India last year.

Other key aspects of this year's festival programme will be the world premiere of "Kaifinama", a documentary celebrating the life and works of Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi to mark his birth centenary.His daughter, veteran actor Shabana Azmi, will address a session on the film at Glasgow Film Theatre and also conduct a masterclass in Leicester in early April.Other key highlights include a series of world premieres and screenings of films from across the Indian subcontinent.

The festival's creative director, Samir Bhamra, revealed British Film Institute (BFI) is funding for a new young curators lab to promote South Asian cinema among future generations in the UK."As a tribute to our pioneering start, the BFI has awarded funds from the National Lottery to also enable the UK Asian Film Festival to establish a young curators lab to nurture a new generation of cinema audiences to appreciate and distinguish independent, South Asian films from all over the world," said Bhamra.The winning film of the young curators lab will be screened as part of a youth gala, with a special awards nigh planned for April 7. 

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