Starring Kevin K. Shah, Surya Chandra & Zak Forsman WHY THE INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF LOS ANGELES? In my humble opinion, there is a very short list of second tier film festivals that pay careful and much needed attention to both audience and filmmaker experience. The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (@IFFLA) is on this list – and anyone that has screened there or attended would agree. Executive Director Christina Marouda and her staff & army of volunteers provided better-than-red-carpet treatment to both emerging artists and the VIP’s — all the while planning excellent parties, awards ceremonies, networking sessions and highlighting everything we love about Indian culture, music, art and movies (both independent and studio-scale).

DUST REQUST: A WORLD PREMIERE: We made a nano-budget interdependent art film called Dust Request: A Last Will and Testament which was finished earlier this year at Sabi Pictures & the film was shot entirely in New Zealand. It was based on Arjun Chandra’s Last Will and Testament & the film debut’s Surya Chandra in a quiet, simple emotional experience. The film highlights one woman’s journey into nature to fulfill her husband’s final supernatural request. My favorite audience-related memory was a couple letting me know how effected they were by watching the film and how they’ve been talking about what they wish for their ashes after they pass. The wife told me she and her husband were holding each other’s hand tightly as the film was playing. Comments like that fill the well.

PREMIERING YOUR FILM AT IFFLA: I was most impressed that the festival provided rich promotional opportunities (including a radio interview I was invited to with Joe Sutton (for the Heart of Hollywood show) as well as 1-on-1 sessions with executives and agents such as Caleb Franklin from CAA. Regardless of whether one made a short or a doc or a feature — the filmmakers had equal access in an atmosphere where like minded artists and individuals can converge and share inspirations. I was thankful and glad to be accompanied by the star Surya Chandra (@suryachandra) who flew for the premiere from Washington D.C. and Sabi producer Zak Forsman (@zakforsman). A week of festivities, two screenings, great parties, a stack of business cards and several people we’re glad to be a friends with… I’m not sure what else a working-class filmmaker should desire from a film festival? The exposure to films that would otherwise never find themselves in a multi-plex alone makes attending the festival worth it — but the extra care and attention to both filmmaker and audience experience really makes the IFFLA stand out.

For me, hearing the music by R. Carlos Nakai with the imagery on the big screen & seeing the poster up at the Arclight — and ‘a film by sabi’ & logo prominently displayed in the theater before the film was a shameful & secret delight. How else but through legit film festivals & a concerted effort to promote your own art can we as filmmakers get word out there about our work? The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles for Sabi Pictures forged a springboard for other festival & audience interest in the film — as well as a wealth of sold DVD’s from our site. In a large part because of the exposure generated by the Indian Film Festival in Los Angeles, Sabi Pictures glad to announce Dust Request is continuing on to the Bollywood and Beyond 2010 film festival in Stuttgart, Germany in July.

To premiere the film alongside such significant works as The Sun Behind the Clouds and Women Rebel by Kiran Deol to a cultured audience twice at the Arclight Theaters on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles — it’s an experience that every passionate filmmaker deserves. With an average attendance of 7,000 and steadily growing — IFFLA has completed it’s 8th year & I look forward to attending next year. This festival here in the heart of LA is where Indian filmmakers and films about India would want to premiere.

Kevin K. Shah Director

DUST REQUEST – A WORLD PREMIERE AT INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL LOS ANGELES – a sabi pictures memoir There was random moment of fun when I was standing with Hash Patel (who provides the voice in the film for Arjun Chandra’s Last Will and Testament) — a staff member walked by and said, “They’re ready for you on the red carpet now.” Hash looked at me and said, “It’s not every day you hear something that. Enjoy it.” This video highlights some our personal memories from that experience.

The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles 2010 & Sabi Pictures: Dust Request – A Last Will and Testament.

(c) Sabi Pictures.

Directed by Kevin K. Shah (@drmental)