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Ritesh Batra's Photograph, Gurinder Chadha's Blinded By The Light to premiere at Sundance

Minhal Baig's Hala will be one of 16 narrative feature films in the US Dramatic Competition at the festival.

A working still from Ritesh Batra's Photograph

Sonal Pandya

112 films are headed to Park City, Utah for the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, to be held from 24 January 24 to 3 February 2019. 4,018 feature-length films were submitted. Of which 1,767 features came from US and the rest, 2,251 from outside.

Filmmaker Minhal Baig's Hala, about a Muslim-American teenager struggling between her family's wishes for herself and her own desires, will have its world premiere at the festival in the US Dramatic Competition. The film, set and filmed in Chicago, stars Geraldine Viswanathan, Jack Kilmer, Gabriel Luna, Purbi Joshi, Azad Khan, and Anna Chlumsky.

Of the 16 films in the US Dramatic Competition, 53% of the filmmakers are women and 41% are people of colour. Baig's parents are Pakistani immigrants to Chicago and the filmmaker expanded Hala from a short film she had made earlier.

Ritesh Batra's Photograph, Gurinder Chadha's Blinded By The Light, Mindy Kaling's Late Night will also have their world premieres in Park City.

Photograph is the only Indian film to premiere at the US festival. Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sanya Malhotra, Photograph is the story of a Mumbai street photographer who asks a stranger to pose as his fiancée in front of his grandmother.

Ritesh Batra: I don’t want to be slave to a release date

In 2009, Batra was part of the Sundance Screenwriters' and Directors' lab with a project, Story Of Ram. Additionally, at the festival, he had won the Time Warner Story Telling Fellow and the Annenberg Fellow at Sundance Film Academy.

Gurinder Chadha, who was recently in India filming her British series Beecham House, will take her period film, Blinded By The Light, about a teenager growing up in 1980s Britain with the help of Bruce Springsteen's music. The film stars Viveik Kalra, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon, Kulvinder Ghir, Nell Williams, and Aaron Phagura.

Indo-Canadian director Nisha Ganatra helms Late Night, starring Academy Award-winner Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, who has also written the film. Thompson plays a late night talk show host who hires her first female staff writer (Kaling). John Lithgow, Paul Walter Hauser, Reid Scott, and Amy Ryan also star in Late Night.

Photograph, Blinded By The Light and Late Night are all screening out of competition.

Actor-filmmaker, Robert Redford, the president and founder of the Sundance Institute, said in a statement about the lineup, “Society relies on storytellers. The choices they make, and the risks they take, define our collective experience. This year’s festival is full of storytellers who offer challenges, questions and entertainment. In telling their stories, they make difficult decisions in the pursuit of truth and art; culture reaps the reward.”