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#Indie: Mara Pictures takes South Asian independent films online

One of Britain's leading champions of independent South Asian cinema is taking sub-continental indies online.

Mara Pictures - the London-based distributor of critically-acclaimed films like Gangs of Wasseypur, Slackistan and The Reluctant Fundamentalist - has launched Mara Digital, the first official online portal specializing in South Asian indies.

Mara Digital's first release is 'Tamanna', a British-Pakistani neo-noir drama made on a budget of just £50,000.

Mara is aiming to take films such as Tamanna beyond the festival circuit that is normally the preserve of small indies.

"Tamanna is a global release and the launch of Mara Digital marks a shift in our focus to digital releases beyond the UK territory”, said Sanam Hasan, co-founder of Mara Pictures.

Tamanna will be followed by another Pakistani production, 'Dukhtar', which premiered at the London Film Festival 2014 to critical acclaim.


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#BFI: South Asian Cinema at the London Film Festival 2014

With nearly 250 films screening, his year's 58th BFI London Film Festival is set to be the biggest yet.  And it's a bumper year for South Asian cinema with films from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka joining features from the UK.

Here are the main highlights.  (Click on film titles for venues and timings).

Margarita, with a Straw

Based on a true-story, this compelling drama explores disability in India through the story of a young Punjabi girl suffering from cerebral palsy.  The gifted Kalki Koechlin plays the central role of Laila, a university student, writer, lyricist and musician who is confined to a wheelchair.  After winning a scholarship to New York University, Laila moves to Manhattan with her mother (played by the veteran south Indian actress and activist Revathi).  In the city that never sleeps, Laila falls in love with Sayani Gupta's fiery young activist Khanum: a love that threatens chaos for Laila and her family.  Writer, producer and director Shonali Bose is no stranger to tackling difficult subjects.  Her 2005 feature debut 'Amu' - based on her novel of the same name - was a skilfully crafted exploration of the 1984 anti-Sikh massacres in Delhi through the eyes of a young Indian American girl.  'Margarita, with a Straw' had its world premier at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month and received an extended standing ovation with some critics drawing parallels between Koechlin's performance and Daniel Day Lewis' Oscar-winning turn as cerebral palsy sufferer Christy Brown in 'My Left Foot'.

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#FaceTheMusic: Shrien Dewani to be extradited to South Africa

Honeymoon murder suspect Shrien Dewani is expected to be extradited to South Africa later today. Mr Dewani’s extradition comes more than three years after the murder of his wife Anni during the couple’s honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010. Anni was killed after the couple’s car was hijacked inside …

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