Welcome to the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2017. This August, the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne will present a program that explores diversity and the endless potential of humanity.

Each year I count down the days until IFFM. I love the reactions from audiences as they watch the latest films, interact with the guests and attend the various events on offer. As the Festival Ambassador, and also as a lover of cinema, I encourage you to immerse yourself in the 13 days of film, including Bollywood blockbusters, powerful indie films and stunning documentaries from India and the subcontinent.

These films were curated to entertain, inspire, enrage, engage and challenge viewers. Some of these films will not be easy to watch, they deal with themes that are not typically found in films from this region, but in my mind this only makes them more important. Film makers are trying new and exciting ways to present stories that matter.

One such piece of art is our opening night film, Lipstick Under My Burkha. The film’s director, Alankrita Shrivastava, had to battle India’s censorship board to be granted permission to release her film — even after it had won accolades at numerous international festivals.

I am excited by the number of female directors and writers who have their work showing at the Festival. Over the past few years, a new generation of female Indian filmmakers has begun to shine on the global stage. To see women behind the camera, creating powerful pieces of art is reflective of the positive steps that the film industry in India and the subcontinent are taking.

I hope to see as many of you as possible during the Festival.

Vidya Balan
IFFM Festival Ambassador