Melbourne/New Delhi: The 2014 program for the popular Indian Film Festival of Melbourne was launched today by Australia`s Minister for Innovation, Tourism and Major Events, and Employment and Trade Louise Asher, and acclaimed and respected Indian actress and Festival Ambassador, Ms Vidya Balan.
Asher said that the festival will be held from 1 to 11 May and feature over 40 films, with more than half being Australian premieres.
`Films will be shown in 20 languages and we will have five free screenings at Federation Square,` Ms. Asher said.
`Victorians and all visitors to Melbourne are in for a treat of Indian films this year`.
`We have a stellar international guest list starring Bollywood screen legend Amitabh Bachchan who will open the festival on 1 May`.
`It will be an honour to have Mr.Bachchan here, just a year after he opened the Cannes Film Festival with his Great Gatsby co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio,` Ms. Asher said.
Other industry guests include Konkona Sen Sharma (one of India`s leading stars of arthouse and independent cinema), Vijay Krishna Acharya (director of Dhoom 3), Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (director of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag), Shaan Shahid (star of Waar, Pakistan`s highest-grossing box office hit of all time), Hassan Waqas Rana (producer of Waar) and Suhasini Maniratnam (icon of South India cinema).
Ms Asher said that this year`s festival would see the return of Festival favourites, such as the interactive master classes, Western Union Short Film competition and the Telstra Bollywood Dance Competition, to be judged by the incredible actor/producer Malaika Arora Khan, a judge on TV show India`s Got Talent.
`In response to community feedback, the festival has also added to the program an exciting new section called New Voices, which will feature six films from first time filmmakers,` Ms.Asher said.
Ms.Asher thanked Ms Balan for coming to Melbourne to help launch the festival program.
`Ms.Balan is a great friend of Victoria, and known for her roles portraying strong female protagonists`.
She launched the 2012 and 2013 Festivals and it is an honour and a pleasure to have Ms Balan back this year.
`The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne brings prominent Indian filmmakers and screen professionals to Melbourne, helps promote Victoria as an international screen production destination, and provides opportunities to develop Victorian and Indian screen partnerships,` Ms.Asher said.
IFFM Festival director, Mitu Bhowmick Lange said the 2014 IFFM would be the most exciting and ambitious festival yet.
`We could not have asked for a better chief guest than the patriarch of Indian cinema and one of the most iconic Indians of all times, Mr Amitabh Bachchan to open the festival on 1 May,` Ms.Bhowmick Lange said.
`The inaugural IFFM Awards takes the festival to a new level and we are all very excited to see who the winners will be. I hope you will all join in with your friends and family to celebrate the magic of cinema!`