The UK Asian Film Festival marks its 22nd edition with the theme 'Uprooted' and here we take a closer look of what to expect.

The festival Programme will run at venues across London, Manchester, Leicester, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stockton between 25 March to 5 April.

This year the events will explore themes of migration, displacement and the reinvention of identity in a new environment through a curation of premieres; screenings and events.

Organisers say 'in today's desperate times, in which communities are being uprooted over nationality, ethnicity and religion globally, the festival programme will celebrate the commonalities of humankind, which are currently being forgotten'. 

UK Asian Film Festival, presented by Tongues on Fire and formerly known as London Asian Film Festival before launching nationwide is championing South Asian feminist films and supporting pioneering female artists and auteurs. 

The Opening Gala Presentation will be critically feature female filmmaker Alankrita Shrivastava’s 'Dolly Kitty And Those Twinkling Stars' on Wednesday 25 March, Vue West End, Leicester Square with the director in attendance. 

Additional screenings will take place at Everyman Manchester, 26 March; Arc Stockton, 27 March; Belgrade Theatre Coventry, 2 April; and Phoenix Cinema Leicester on 3 April.

Set in a jagged and dusty, newly developing industrial area on the outskirts of New Delhi, Dolly Kitty And Those Twinkling Stars chronicles the quiet transgression of two female cousins who, through their complicated love-hate equation, enable each other to find freedom. Kitty (Kaajal) is new to the big city. Disillusioned by Dolly’s dysfunctional life, Kitty finds herself working for a dial-in romance app. As she starts to sell romance on the phone, she seeks a love of her own.

Dolly, meanwhile, is grappling with the truth about her marriage and a young son who is starting to identify himself as female. 

Alankrita Shrivastava is an award-winning feature film director and screenwriter from Mumbai with a penchant for telling women’s stories, exploring the interior world of women through her films. Alankrita’s second feature film as writer-director, Lipstick Under My Burkha, premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2016.

It was banned in India for being too honest of a portrayal of women and Alankrita had to fight a long battle to release it in India. It finally released theatrically in India in July 2017 to critical plaudit and commercial success. 

Other highlights include


Asian Image:

23-year-old Shimu works in a clothing factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Faced with difficult conditions at work, she decides to start a union with her co-workers. Despite threats from the management and disapproval of her husband, she is determined to keep going and strive for a better life. At a time of rampant exploitation in the fashion industry, comes the inspiring story of a group of women who dare to challenge the system that oppresses them and take charge of their own lives.

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Asian Image:

Late one night, when a young ‘thief’ enters the home of an elderly married couple to steal a simple old heater, what starts as a confrontation soon evolves in an unlikely friendship between the couple and a young boy looking for guidance, forming a bond that will leave them forever changed.

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Asian Image:

A Q&A session with Sarfraz Manzoor, discussing the 2019 British comedy-drama film Blinded By The Light. Inspired by the journalist’s life and his love of Bruce Springsteen’s work, the film is based on Manzoor’s memoir Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N Roll. Set in the town of Luton in 1987, the film tells the coming-of-age story of Javed, a British-Pakistani Muslim teenager whose life is changed after he discovers the music of Springsteen.

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Asian Image:

Bunkar is an attempt to awaken society to the reality of the life of a weaver and the price he pays so that our Indian legacy lives for one more day. While celebrating the weaves of Varanasi and their creators, the documentary compels us to rethink the role each one of us can play in making a difference to their lives. For every time that art has played its role in shaping society, today an art is calling out to us. If we do not step up now, we may lose it forever.

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Asian Image:

Legends of the Casbah is a feature-length documentary on some extraordinary South Africans of ‘Indian’ origin in the 1950s. The film tells the intertwined stories of a number of unexpected characters, ‘rebels’ who escaped the constraints imposed by the apartheid system to forge their own identities. In uncovering an ensemble cast of gangsters, sports stars, musicians, stunt riders and activists, among others, this heritage documentary weaves an alternative history of Durban’s ‘Indian’ community in the era of the Defiance Campaign.

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UK Asian Film Festival Founder and Director, Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry MBE said,  “Cinema is incredibly powerful. People may forget the story, or what the characters did, but they will never forget how the film made them feel.

"And contemporary writers and directors like Alankrita Srivastava make radical films with powerful female protagonists that do not conform to stereotypes of women. Her films amplify the voices of women with nuanced complexities that fiercely celebrate the boundless nature of sisterhood.

"These films remain with you long after the credits roll.”

In relation to the festival’s theme, Uprooted, UK Asian Film Festival Creative Director, Samir Bhamra said, “Talented filmmakers have captured recent polarising perspectives with powerful antidotes that integrate communities by redefining identity, questioning differences and ultimately celebrating what unites us. 

"Cinema is discovering new powerful narratives that illustrate the resilience of humankind. Quirky, humorous and fragile moments are creating hope for a new generation.”

UKAFF is supported by a BFI Audience Award, using funding from the National Lottery. 

You can view the full festival programme here