UK Asian Film Festival celebrates its 20th year with ‘F’ rated feminist theme

Still from ‘Lights Arose’ Image courtesy of Tongues on Fire LTD/UK Asian Film Festival

Tongues On Fire is presenting The UK Asian Film festival for its 20th year, taking on an ‘F’ rated theme celebrating women in South Asian cinema, a highly misrepresented social group.  Dr. Pushpinder Chowdhry MBE, Festival Founding Director says, In our 20th anniversary, Tongues on Fire – UK Asian Film Festival are proudly going back to our roots of a female driven festival with a “F rated” perspective to our films and events. While curating films this year I was aware that there was a lack of female directors in the industry. Through this festival, we endeavour to proactively reach out to, support and inspire new filmmakers, giving them a chance to showcase their work.” The festival takes on this theme to honour 100 years since some women gained the right to vote in the UK, and championing the South Asian women that helped the Suffragettes get to that victory, namely unsung hero Sophia Duleep Singh.

Spread across four cities- Edinburgh (Filmhouse, 22nd-25th March), Manchester (HOME, 25th March), Leicester (Phoenix Cinema, 15th March extended to the 31st March) and London (various venues, 14th-25th March), the festival aims to promote a message of female excellence in cinema, both on screen and behind the camera.

This excellence is being awarded at their opening night Gala on the 14th March at the Mayfair Hotel where prominent South Asian women who have contributed greatly to the industry are being honoured at the Flame Awards, recipients include Jamilla Massey, Rahila Gupta and Simi Garewel. The opening Gala will also be playing host to a conversation with Pakistani actress Mahira Khan, star of Bol, Raees and Verna, also the first Pakistani woman to be the face of L’Oreal, breaking down eurocentric beauty standards in the process. Her Q&A’s will also be reaching Pheonix Cinema in Leicester on the 15th March and Regent Street Cinema in London on the 16th of March.

Festival highlights include Devashish Makhija’s Ajji (Granny), a Hindi-language drama about a grandmother who finds her granddaughter in a trash heap after a violent assault discussing and raising themes of abuse and toxic masculinity. You can also see Movie, Memories, Magic: Memories through Cinema, a collaborative documentary project between UKAFF and the Queen Mary University that explores the British Asian experience in relation to cinema. The festival is also screening the classic and controversial Siddhartha (1972), that featured the first nude scene from a Bollywood actress, causing much backlash and censorship at the time.

You can see the Full Festival programme over at and keep up to date on Twitter at @cometoUKAFF and on their various Facebook profiles for each city ukasianfilmfestival, ukaffleicester, ukaffedinburgh, ukaffmanchester.


by Chloe Leeson

Chloe Leeson is the founder of Screenqueens. She is 22 and from the north of England (the proper north). She believes Harmony Korine is the future and is pretty sure she coined the term ‘selfie central’. She doesn’t like Pina Coladas or getting caught in the rain but she does like Ezra Miller a whole lot. Her favourite films are Into The Wild, The Beach and Lords of Dogtown. She rants about cinema screenings @kawaiigoff.


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