Frieda Pinto starrer ‘Desert Dancer’ premieres at Santa Barabara Filmfest

NEW DELHI: Even as the Frieda Pinto-starrer Desert Dancer opened the Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG Australia in California earlier this week, the Festival presented the Attenborough Award For Excellence in Nature Filmmaking to the Cousteau Family – Jean-Michel and his son and daughter Fabien and Celine -- for their decades-long commitment to educating the public and discovering the mysteries of the ocean. 


The screening of Relativity Studios' Desert Dancer marked the American premiere of the film. Directed by Richard Raymond and starring Freida Pinto, Reece Ritchie, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Cullen and Marmama Corlett, Desert Dancer tells the true story of a self-taught dancer pursuing a dream in a suppressed society. 


“Raymond has delivered an extremely timely and thought-provoking movie about love, truth and the freedom that comes from following your passions," stated SBIFF executive director Roger Durling. “What better way to kick off our 30th anniversary!"


The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is celebrating its 30th Anniversary. Dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema, SBIFF this year is offering 12 days of over 200 films, tributes and symposiums that range from American indie films to world cinema and everything in-between. The Festival in downtown Santa Barbara attracts more than 85,000 attendees.


SBIFF brings to the forefront the importance and power of the art of filmmaking and continues its commitment to providing free children's education and community outreach programmes through its 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking and Screenwriting Competitions, Mike's Field Trip to the Movies, AppleBox Family Films, 3rd Weekend and educational seminars.  


Durling said, “The name Cousteau is synonymous with ocean exploration and preservation, something the Santa Barbara community is equally passionate about. Acknowledging them for their dedication to continue their mission through action and education is both an honour and a privilege."


Desert Dancer is a powerful and unbelievable true story set in Iran that follows the brave ambition of Afshin Ghaffarian. During the volatile climate of the 2009 presidential election, where many cultural freedoms were threatened, Afshin and some friends (including Elaheh played by Freida Pinto) risk their lives and form an underground dance company.  Through banned online videos, they learn from timeless legends who cross all cultural divides, such as Michael Jackson, Gene Kelly and Rudolf Nureyev.  Afshin and Elaheh also learn much from each other, most importantly how to embrace their passion for dance and for one another.  Richard Raymond directs the film, which was written by Jon Croker, based on the life story of Afshin Ghaffarian.  


The film will be released by Relativity Studios in select cities on 20 March and expanding on 27 March. 

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