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The 14th London Asian Film Festival Awards at BAFTA

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The 14th London Asian Film Festival came to a close yesterday with the final awards ceremony.

Nominees and representatives of the British Asian and international film community attended the event, co-hosted by Preeya Kalidas at the prestigious BAFTA building.

Sunanda Shetty, producer of the The Desire - A Journey of a Woman, which stars her daughter Shilpa Shetty, told Digital Spy how it felt to have the film screened at the festival and nominated in several categories.

"I'm very happy that our film has multiple nominations. I have won quite a few awards in other festivals as well and The London Asian Film Festival asked me to send in the film. I think they loved it."

Watch the trailer for The Desire - A Journey of a Woman below:



The cinema of Pakistan was represented at the festival with a screening of Bol, a film which focuses on gender discrimination.

The film's lead actress Humaima Malik told Digital Spy why she felt it was important for Pakistani cinema to be represented at the festival: "Bol is an art piece from my country so it feels great to represent my cinema and my country. It's a very meaningful film. There's no 'hulla gulla' and it features the real experiences of women. It's an important film because the subject is so powerful and it's been nominated in so many different countries for so many awards.

"We have seven nominations today. It's not about winning. It's just about being represented amongst so many people and great films. All the team is here. It feels great. I'm crossing my fingers. I get to see a lot of good work here too from other countries."

Italo Spinelli, director of the widely acclaimed Gangor, travelled from Rome especially to attend the awards. He told Digital Spy about his experience of shooting the film, which exposes the exploitation of tribal women in Bangladesh and the impact of Indian cinema the world over.

"The film was shot in West Bengal. It was perfect. I really appreciate the people and we had such a great experience of working with professional people," he said.

"With Indian cinema, there's a change in the scenario. Indian cinema is now not so stereotyped, but I don't know if Bollywood-style movies are so accepted in Italy or Europe, but there's a lot of energy there so we will see what happens in time. I'm sure it will be appreciated."

Collecting the 'Best Director' award Spinelli said: "It's an honour to be here and receive this award. I'd like to dedicate this award to the fight of the tribal women in India and their fight for their rights and a better life."

Accepting the award for 'Best Male Actor' for his role in Trishna (also starring Frieda Pinto), Michael Winterbottom's adaptation of Tess of the D' Urbervilles, Riz Ahmed said: "This means a lot to me. It's been amazing watching the London Asian Film Festival go from strength to strength. I'd like to thank Pushpinder [Chowdhry] for giving a platform to alternative voices coming out of South Asia.

"And I should thank my Mum, because being Asian and telling your parents you want to be an actor could lead to a fishy reception, but my family have been very supportive, so I'd like to dedicate this to them."

Riz Ahmed

© WENN

Frieda Pinto

© WENN



Accepting the 'Best Film' award for Bol, the film's line producer Fatima Khan said: "I would like to dedicate this award to the youth of Pakistan. They are very talented people who are working relentlessly to promote a very positive image of Pakistan."

Legendary screenwriter and lyricist Javed Akhtar was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award. While Akhtar was unable to attend the event, he sent a statement expressing his gratitude for the honour.

"I would like to thank the Tongues on Fire Film Festival for this award and would like to thank the festival director and their team for the wonderful work they have been doing.

"Industry awards are always important, but this award from the UK is especially significant as a recognition not only of my body of work, but for Indian cinema at large and the huge impact on the audience in the British Asian diaspora."

Speaking to Digital Spy Pushpinder Chowdhry, founder and director of the London Asian Film Festival, summed up the highlights of the ten day event.

"The festival has been fantastic. We're really pleased with it. We had Abhishek [Bacchan] opening the festival, which was really the cherry on the cake for us, and then he ran a workshop which wasn't programmed, but he said 'I would love to talk about my craft'.

"And apart from that we've had a really fantastic set of films, documentaries, short films, we had networking opportunities for the film fraternity and our volunteers have worked really hard to make the festival a success."

Chowdhry went on to explain what she felt was the key message of the festival: "I think especially this year when we are focusing on Pakistani cinema, the message is that we need to provide role models for emerging talent here in the UK, so hopefully they could find a platform to network, meet the film fraternity from here and abroad. We have the art director from Italy, and of course cast here from Pakistan. Hopefully that interaction will get the wheels turning.

"Every year has been harder than the previous year. Resources have been an obstacle but hopefully next year more sponsors can come on board and we can make the festival an even more enriching celebration of South Asian cinema."

Full list of winners:

Best Film:
Bol - WINNER!
Meherjaan
Michael
Gangor

Best Crossover Film
Gangor
Lucky - WINNER!
Trishna
The Desire - A Journey of a Woman

Best Director:
Avie Luthra - Lucky
Italo Spinelli - Gangor - WINNER!
Rubaiyat Hossain - Meherjaan
Shoaib Mansoor - Bol

Best Male Actor:
Rizwan Ahmed - Trishna - WINNER!
Naseeruddin Shah - Michael
Manzar Sehbai - Bol
Victor Banerjee - Lucky

Best Female Actor:
Humaima Malik - Bol - WINNER!
Shilpa Shetty - The Desire
Frieda Pinto - Trishna
Jayashree Basavraj - Lucky

Best New Talent:
Sihle Dlamini - Lucky
Ribhu Dasgupta - Michael
Amr Kashmiri - Bol - WINNER!

Best Film Production
Meherjaan
Bol
The Desire - A Journey of a Woman - WINNER!
Lucky

Best Music Talent in a Film
Atif Aslam - Bol
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan - Tamanna - WINNER!
AR Rahman - Trishna

The Audience Choice Award
Throw of a Dice - WINNER!

Lifetime Achievement Award
Javed Akhtar - WINNER!

Short Film Competition
The Lad - WINNER!

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