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One of the dance groups to perform at Bollywood and Beyond is Layam
© www.layam.de
Annual German festival of Indian films opens in Stuttgart

July 10, 2008

Germany’s only Indian Film Festival “Bollywood and beyond” began in Stuttgart on July 16, 2008. 60 films from India will be shown, including Bollywood blockbuster Jodhaa Akbar, Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par and a selection of art house cinema.

This is the fifth time that the Filmbüro Baden-Württemberg is hosting the “Bollywood and beyond” festival in the southern city of Stuttgart. While Bollywood romances are a big draw at the event, this year’s festival opened with something completely different, Valu - The Wild Bull, an entertaining documentary about a village and its problems with a wild bull. The film is the directing debut by Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni, who was present at the festival.

Earlier, organisers said they hoped to sell 13,000 tickets this year for the screenings over five days at Stuttgart's Metropol cinema. Stuttgart, which was twinned with Mumbai 40 years ago, calls the festival "Bollywood and beyond" to emphasise that the movies cover the range from romances to the more intellectual fare usually only shown in art cinemas.

The programme, with approximately 60 films, contains not only Bollywood blockbusters like Jodhaa Akbar but also many art house productions and documentaries, in order to show a cross-section of the Indian film scene. The Indian ambassador to Germany, Meera Shankar, stressed Wednesday that Indian films were a €1.2 billion industry. Part of the programme is a section entitled 'Indian Shorts'. This year four short films of the AIDS-Jaago Project by four of the most prominent directors in India will be shown: Blood Brothers by Vishal Bhardwaj, Migration by Mira Nair, Prarambha by Santosh Sivan and Farhan Akhtar’s Positive.

Board spokeswoman Jessica Cope said, "We think the four short films about AIDS could be highlights of the festival." She also added, “You’ll have to wait till 17th July for the out-and-out Bollywood style, when we screen Jodhaa Akbar. It's got everything that Germans expect in a Bollywood film.” Another highlight of the 'anniversary edition' of 'Bollywood and beyond' is the German premiere of Taare Zameen Par from Hindi film director and superstar Aamir Khan.

Organised by the film promotion board of Baden-Wuerttemberg state, the festival is not just confined to film. There are also many music and dance events with domestic and international artists, as well as a series of lectures on topics from politics, culture and society which provide visitors with a glimpse into Indian culture. In the new “Street of India” Indian food can be sampled and some bazaar stands offer jewellery, craftwork, clothing, books and CDs.

The official festival party has a DJ line-up to make fans of Indian music go weak at the knees. Under the Motto European Electronic meets Indian Vibes, the party will feature artists like English-Indian DJ Punjabi MC, The Bhangra Brothers and DJ Kearalaboy. They will be heating up the turntables in the Buddha Lounge Red Mandarin in Stuttgart.

Germans will also be able to find out about other aspects of India. The best-selling novelist Shobhaa De has been invited to the festival. She will give an informal lecture on Bollywood gossip and introduce her new book, Superstar India.

Best-film prizes, including the 4,000 euro 'German Star of India' award for best director, will be handed out on the last day, 20th July. The panel of judges will also award 1,000 euro prizes for the best documentary and best short films, and the audience can vote for the best film of the festival.

Besides introducing the Indian film industry, the festival also aims for exchange on cultural and economic issues. The stated goal of 'Bollywood and beyond' is to be a marketplace and communication centre on economic relations for Indian and German firms. Since 2006 the Indo-German Businessforum is a strong component of the festival. This business conference will take place on 17th and 18th July 2008.



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