Silent Indian love story ‘Shiraz’ announced as 61st BFI London Film Festival Archive Gala

The BFI National Archive has today announced the restoration of the 1928 silent Indian/British/German co-production, Shiraz, as part of the launch for the UK India Year of Culture, a major celebration of the long-standing relationship between the UK and India,

As part of the celebration, Shiraz will premiere as the Archive Gala at the 61st BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express®, on 14 October at the Barbican.

Directed by Franz Osten, and with a cast including Himansu Rai (Shiraz), Charu Roy (Prince Khurram/Emperor Shah Jahan), Enakshi Rama Rau (Selima/Empress Mumtaz Mahal) and Seeta Devi (Dalia), Shiraz tells the love story of the 17th-century princess who inspired the construction of the Taj Mahal.

Both BFI London Film Festival screenings will be accompanied by a live performance of a specially commissioned new score by the Indian composer and sitar player Anoushka Shankar.

Following the UK screenings, Shiraz will screen at festivals and cinemas across India as a powerful symbol of the partnership between India and the UK.

From April-December 2017, the BFI will present India on Film, an extensive celebration of Indian cinema, including the UK premiere of Baahubali: The Conclusion on 27 April.

Co-curated by BFI head curator Robin Baker and writer and programmer Meenakshi Shedde, the India on Film programme will begin at BFI Southbank in April with Bollywood 2.0, a focus on ‘New Bollywood’ films, which have pushed the boundaries of conventional Bollywood filmmaking tackling such issues as caste, crime, homosexuality and feminism.

In August the BFI National Archive will make an unparalleled collection of 300 newly digitised films that were shot in India during the early 20th century, including the oldest surviving footage of India on film from 1899 – travelogues, documentaries and home movies – available to audiences in the UK and across India for the first time, as part of India on Film.

The collection Around India with A Movie Camera will be available both as a feature-length highlights programme for cinema and community centre screenings, and available to view for free on the BFI Player.

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