Indian film fest hits L.A. on April 22


NEW DELHI -- The sixth annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles will open April 22 with Richie Mehta's "Amal" and close April 27 with the world premiere of "Mumbai Cutting ... A City Unfolds," which offers the perspective of 10 leading Indian directors on Mumbai.

Andy Bird, chairman of Walt Disney International, and Timmy Kandhari, PricewaterhouseCoopers India leader of entertainment and media practice, will share the 2008 Industry Leadership Award for executives who have impacted the Indian entertainment industry.

"India is an exciting, vibrant market that holds infinite possibilities and we look forward to growing our businesses there," Bird said in a statement.

The six-day festival will end with separate jury and audience awards for best feature, documentary and short.

About 40 films will screen at IFFLA, which also will honor top Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit, whose films "Mrityudand" (The Death Sentence) and musical blockbuster "Dil To Pagal Hai" (My Heart Is Crazy) will be screened.

Set in New Delhi, "Amal" is a feature based on the 2005 IFFLA Grand Jury prize winning short film of the same name by Mehta. It chronicles a fateful meeting between a humble rickshaw driver and an eccentric tycoon. The cast includes Naseeruddin Shah ("The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"), Roshan Seth ("Gandhi") and Seema Biswas ("Bandit Queen"), among others.

IFFLA closing-night festivities include the group Bollywood Step Dance, which will pay tribute to one of Indian filmdom's acclaimed composers, the late Rahul Dev Burman.

"This year's festival nearly embodies the best of all worlds in Indian cinema for us," IFFLA director Christina Marouda said. "Just as we couldn't be more proud and happy to be opening with a film by one of our filmmaker alumni, we are equally thrilled and honored to be welcoming Madhuri Dixit, an actress who has connected with audiences in a way most stars can only dream of."

Tickets go on sale April 3 at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood and the IFFLA Web site.