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Indian Films

At the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

FotoFest is continuing its long-time partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Film Department to present the multi-weekend Indian Film Program, featuring Indian cinema and documentaries. This selection of films set in modern India responds to the 2018 FotoFest Biennial INDIA / Contemporary Photography and New Media Art.

Film screening occur at the Brown Auditorium Theater at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet St, Houston, 77005. Details may be found at

Friday, April 13, 2018, 7pm

The Cinema Travellers

India, 2016 / Directed by: Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya / 96 mins / Hindi and Marathi with English subtitles

The spectacle of screening movies has long been presented in India by showmen driving cinema trucks to rural villages, where temporary tents are erected and films are screened on 35mm. Celebrating that tradition, viewers follow a team of dedicated technicians who traverse Maharashtra. In each town, their arrival is greeted by boisterous crowds, lured by “movies to touch your soul.”

“It’s seldom that a documentary is this spellbinding, this can’t-move-from-my-seat-or-even-think-of-turning-my-eyes-away bewitching . . . The simple story of three men in India whose passion for the movies goes beyond common sense . . . left me in tears. The Cinema Travelers is a masterpiece, a film from the heart and a testament to everything humanity should believe in wholeheartedly.” —Huffington Post

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Saturday, April 14, 2018, 7pm

Expressions Un/Spoken - Short Film Program

India / Directed by: Various / 90 mins

The short-film program for Houston’s 2018 FotoFest Biennial INDIA, features representations of love, gender, and sexuality, made over a 40-year period. With distinctive voices, and in a variety of genres, the four films reflect the restrictions or freedom offered by their context and production environment—such as state documentary, independent film, and mainstream Bollywood.

This Bit of That India
Documentary, 1972 / Directed by S.N.S. Sastry / 20 mins. This highly subversive film by masterful filmmaker S.N.S. Sastry is ostensibly a propaganda documentary about higher-education facilities for foreign students in the premier institutions of India. This Bit of That India turns the brief state documentary on its head to become one about the incertitudes of a 25-year-old nation. With youth as a metaphor, the film uses humor to pose questions about desire and freedom.

Fiction, 1996 / Directed by Riyad Vinci Wadia / 12 mins. 
Six vignettes depict the underground and complex nature of the gay identity in urban India. Part Bollywood and part French writer Jean Genet, BomGay combines the acidic verse of poet R. Raj Rao and the insightful imagery of Riyad Vinci Wadia to reveal the emerging gay community in the post-liberalized India of the 1990s. 

Call It Slut
Documentary, 2006 / Directed by Nishtha Jain / 14 mins. 
Call It Slut offers a miniature portrait of Lakshmi, a wickedly outrageous and compassionate transgender woman who is a prominent public figure in India’s queer-rights movement. The film is a tender and stylized look at Lakshimi taking on society and sneering at notions of middle-class morality. 

Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh (It’s a Strange Story)
Fiction, 2013 / Directed by Karan Johar / 27 mins.
From a four-part anthology on the city of Bombay titled Bombay Talkies, this contemporary film marks a significant departure from the conventional depiction of gay men in mainstream Indian cinema. The story focuses on Avinash, a young gay man who seeks to live and express his sexuality on his own terms.

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Saturday, April 21, 2018, 7pm

Lipstick Under My Burkha

India, 2016 / Directed by: Alankrita Shrivastava / 102 mins / Hindi with English subtitles

Mature Audiences Only
A timely drama infused with song and dance numbers, Lipstick Under My Burkha follows the lives of four women in Bhopal, India. Each searches for independence and freedom, ultimately finding support in sisterhood.

Lipstick caused a stir due to its incessant battle with India’s regressive censor board, but was finally greenlit (with 27 major cuts), which ironically kind of proves the point the film is trying to make even before one sees it.” —

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Sunday, April 22, 2018, 6pm

Hotel Salvation

India, 2016 / Directed by: Shubhashish Bhutiani / 102 mins / Hindi with English subtitles

A dream convinces 77-year-old Daya that his death is approaching. The aging father decides he wants to go to the holy city of Varanasi, India—the location of the Mukti Bhawan (Hotel Salvation), a guesthouse devoted to people who want to die there. Daya’s dutiful son, Rajiv, is left with no choice but to drop everything and make the journey with his stubborn father.

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Indian Films

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