The 16th Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) came to an end on Sunday evening with Rima Das’ Village Rockstars winning the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature. In awarding the Grand Prize, the narrative jury stated: “This film explores gender expectations in a gentle manner. It blends beautiful cinematography with naturalistic performances in a fun and uplifting coming-of age story. Working as a one woman army, this director created an unforgettable portrait of childhood.” Village Rockstars, one of the most lauded Indian films on the festival circuit, also just took home four top awards at the National Film Awards in India, including Best Feature Film.
A special jury mention was made for Sushama Deshpande’s performance in Ajji. The jury stated: “Taking on difficult characters is always a challenge for an actor. It takes courage to humanize and portray a role that breaks the stereotypes. This actress demonstrated undeniable talent and commitment to deliver an authentic and grounded performance.”
The Grand Jury Prize for Best Short was presented to The Caregiver, directed by Ruthy Pribar. Regarding the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short, the jury awarded, “a film that we loved for its elegant representation of the nuances between compassion and survival, and for its understated yet decisive storytelling.”
A special jury mention was made for Counterfeit Kunkoo, which the jury called “an incredible short film about apartment hunting in Mumbai that not only manages to be well-paced, gripping and bold but also a heart-wrenching perspective into gender inequality in metropolitan India.”
The audiences at this year’s IFFLA chose Take Off directed by Mahesh Narayanan as their favorite narrative feature film of the festival. Lovesick, directed by Priya Giri Desai and Ann S. Kim took the Audience Award for Best Documentary, and An Essay of the Rain directed by Nagraj Manjule was chosen as Best Short.
GRAND JURY AWARDS
Best Feature: Village Rockstars, directed by Rima Das
Features Special Mention: Sushama Deshpande’s lead performance in Ajji
Best Short Film: The Caregiver, directed by Ruthy Pribar
Short Film Special Mention: Counterfeit Kunkoo, directed by Reema Sengupta
AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARDS
Best Feature (Narrative): Take Off, directed by Mahesh Narayanan
Best Documentary: Lovesick, directed by Priya Giri Desai and Ann S. Kim
Best Short: An Essay of the Rain, directed by Nagraj Manjule