Filmmaker Sudhanshu Saria’s debut feature, LOEV, has been selected to be a part of this year’s prestigious South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, scheduled to take place from March 11-19 in Austin, Texas, United States.
A relationship drama about gay men, its selection was announced a day before India's LGBTQ community won a small victory in its fight to abolish the Indian Penal Code's archaic Section 377, which outlaws homosexuality. Namrata Joshi of The Hindu describes it as "a film that casts a simple, sensitive and refreshing eye at gay love".
SXSW, now in its 29th year, is known for its audience-friendly and fiercely independent selection. It is renowned as the
place where world-renowned filmmakers like Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years), Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture, Girls), Duplass Brothers (Puffy Chair, Cyrus), Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, Trainwreck) and Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) world-premiered their first films.
LOEV is playing in competition in the festival's 'Visions' section, which seeks "audacious, risk-taking artists in the new cinema landscape who demonstrate raw innovation and creativity in documentary and narrative filmmaking". It is reportedly the first Indian feature film to be selected in SXSW's history.
"I deeply identify with the cinema of Richard Linklater, Lena Dunham, Andrew Haigh," Saria said, in a press release. "To think that the very festival that introduced these artists to the world will now be hosting the North American premiere of LOEV — it's pretty overwhelming."
Filmed entirely in Mumbai and Mahabaleshwar, LOEV has been described as a "tender and intimate portrait of three friends [played by Shiv Pandit, Dhruv Ganesh and Siddharth Menon] who struggle to define the boundaries of their friendship and the love that exists between them". Its synopsis on the SXSW website reads:
When hot shot, Wall Street dealmaker Jai thinks of putting some pleasure into his 48 hour business trip to Mumbai, Sahil, his young, music-producer friend, drops everything, including his reckless boyfriend Alex, to help him execute the perfect getaway. Hiking the hills and canyons of Maharashtra, amidst half-attempted conversations and sudden silences, business calls and old jokes, the friends discover there is more than just time-zones keeping them apart. Things take another turn when Alex shows up with a new male-companion at his side, throwing up old conflicts and bringing unanswered questions to the fore.
LOEV had its world premiere at the Tallinn Black Nights Festival in Estonia, in November last year. It is also scheduled to screen at several major international festivals in the coming months as the producers prepare for its theatrical release in India.
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