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Coronavirus update: Faraz Arif Ansari's Sheer Qorma in limbo as BFI Flare film festival cancelled

The short film, featuring Divya Dutta and Swara Bhasker, was set to begin its film festival run as the coronavirus pandemic hit. 

Our Correspondent

While commercial filmmakers are complaining of box office debacles caused by the coronavirus pandemic, independent filmmakers are facing a problem of existence. The British Film Institute's London LGBT film festival, BFI Flare, which was to screen Faraz Ansari's Sheer Qorma, now stands cancelled. 

The festival website announced in a statement, "It's with heavy hearts that the BFI announces that due to the scale and complexity of running a large international film festival with filmmakers set to travel to it from across the world, it has taken the very difficult decision to cancel the 2020 edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival (18 - 29 March) as the Covid-19 pandemic rapidly evolves... BFI Flare is a very special and long standing festival with a loyal and dedicated following and we realise that this is a very disappointing situation for audiences, our staff and festival teams and all of the incredibly talented and passionate filmmakers involved." 

The event was to begin today, but was cancelled in view of the rising coronavirus pandemic in Europe. The short film, featuring actresses Swara Bhasker, Divya Dutta, and Shabana Azmi, captures the lives of two queer individuals struggling to hold on to their love while battling with their loved ones. 

Sharing a statement on Twitter, Ansari wrote 'As independent filmmakers, we truly live from film to film - physically, financially, and emotionally. We do not have huge turnarounds of any kind nor do we have financial backings to tide us through trying times. We are as good as our last film until the new film finds its place in the world to take us along, and tide us through.'

He added, 'Today as we stand, with our world grappled with the deathly COVID-19, all our premieres stand cancelled or postponed indefinitely. I know that this is for the best as the safety of all is of paramount importance. I am heartbroken beyond words and emotionally numb, to say the least. The sense of loss is beyond immeasurable.' 

The film's trailer was released late in February, before the coronavirus pandemic broke through on the scene. 

Ansari and producer Marijke de Souza were set to travel to London to attend the world premiere but because of the new travel advisories in place, they decided to stay back in India. 

This is the latest film festival to be canceled in view of the growing pandemic fears. The IFFLA (Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles), and the Beijing International Film Festival were among the two major ones, along with several award events. Some film festivals have chosen to go for digital screenings in view of government directives to avoid crowds.  

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