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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



First-ever Yellowstone International Film Festival (YIFF) begins today

First-ever Yellowstone International Film Festival (YIFF) begins today

More than 70 shorts, documentaries and feature films from all over the globe comprise the curated lineup of the first-ever Yellowstone International Film Festival (YIFF), taking place from Jan. 28th to Feb. 3rd, and powered by Movie Saints ( The festival’s programming also includes seven Oscar-affiliated short films and documentaries.
Created by award-winning writer/director Tushar Tyagi (SAVING CHINTU, KAASHI, GULABEE) and curated by renowned festival director (New York Indian Film Festival) and biographer (Shashi Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Priyanka Chopra) Aseem Chhabra, YIFF is a New Delhi homecoming, of sorts, for both film personalities, based part-time in Los Angeles and New York City, respectively.
“We created this festival to serve as a confluence of our dual identities and cultures,” said Tyagi, a trained filmmaker who has studied at the New York Film Academy and is now based in Los Angeles. “I see the world around me through a cinematic and structured lens, and the films we have chosen to present at our festival reflect my Indo-American sensibilities, while paying homage to some of the best global films focused on women empowerment and LGBTQIA+ issues.”
Tyagi’s 2020 film SAVING CHINTU is currently one of three Indian short films in the highly-contested, 2021 Oscars race, to represent India at the Academy Awards, in the live action shorts category. He has made 12 other short films, and is currently working on two feature films, to be released in the next two years.

Chhabra is the author of the biographies of Shashi Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra, and the recently released Irrfan Khan: The Man, The Dreamer, The Star.  A film journalist in New York City and New Delhi, he has been published in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Mumbai Mirror,, The Hindu, Outlook,, Quartz, Scroll, Newslaundry. He’s been a commentator on Indian cinema on NPR, CNN, BBC, CBC, ABC’s ‘Good Morning America.’ Chhabra is the festival director of the New York Indian Film Festival, the largest and the oldest festival in North America. He is the voice of Shadow Puppet #1 in director Nina Paley's acclaimed animated film, SITA SINGS THE BLUES.








Festival highlights include:

  • Showcase of Shorts Films Vying For 2021 Oscars: Producer of LUNCHBOX, Shaan Vyas’, NATKHAT (starring Vidya Balan), Karishma Dev Dube’s BITTU (Student Academy Award Winner), Rami Kodeih's ALINA, Dekel Berenson’s ANA (Cannes official selection and short-listed by BAFTA), Charlie Manton’s NOVEMBER 1st (Student Academy Award Nominee).
  • SKY BLOSSOM: DIARY OF THE NEXT GREATEST GENERATION, directed by Richard Lui, noted MSNBC & CNN news anchor, and part of the Oscar race in the documentary feature category.
  • World premiere of Rajesh Tailang’s (DELHI CRIME, MIRZAPUR) directorial debut TRIVEDIJI.
  • Indian premiere of Gil Baroni’s charming ALICE JUNIOR, which opened the 2020 Berlinale Film Festival and is the story of a trans teenager who longs to be kissed.
  • Also featured is the South African film KINGS OF MULBERRY STREET, the story of two young boys of Indian origin who bond over conversations of classic Bollywood films.

The pre-recorded, virtual panel discussions and workshops include:

  • “Breaking The Cinematic Glass Ceiling: Women Filmmakers:” Panel Discussion, moderated by film writer & critic Sucharita Tyagi
  • "Academy Award Round-Table: Running the Oscar Race"
  • “Gulabi Lens: Rise in the popularity of Queer Cinema,”
  • “Festival Directors Tell All: Mechanics of Film Festival Curation”
  • Q&A with Aastha Khanna, India’s first intimacy coordinator for films
  • Master Classes on screenwriting, cinematography and direction
  • *Media Partner for all pre-recorded panel discussions is Bollywood Film Fame Canada (
  • **Festival Partner for all films & content is India Film Project (
  • The festival will also present 10 awards in the following categories this year:

Best Feature Film
Best Documentary Feature
Best Live Action Short
Best Director
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Child Actor
Best Screenplay
Best Woman Filmmaker
Best LGBTQIA+ Film













The 12 accomplished, award-winning jury members, from
Hollywood & the Indian Film Industry, are:

  • Scott Moore – feature film writer and director best known for THE HANGOVER and BAD MOMS
  • Marta Cunningham – Nominated for two News and Documentary Emmy Awards, Marta Cunningham is an accomplished actor turned first time filmmaker
  • Nicolas Eliopoulos – two-time Emmy-Winning producer/editor/director, best known for films like OUT OF AFRICA, NINE TO FIVE & BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS
  • Nikky Levy – film executive, Head of Scripted Content at DreamWorks TV, creator of tv show “Don’t Tell My Mother” and a television host
  • Sheeba Chadha – Indian TV and film actor best known for her work in BADHAI HO, GULLY BOY, MIRZAPUR, A SUITABLE BOY & BANDISH BANDITS
  • Anjul Nigam – producer & writer of films like CROWN VIC, BAYOU CAVIAR & GROWING UP SMITH
  • Alison Fraser – two time Tony Award nominee for THE SECRET GARDEN & ROMANCE/ROMANCE
  • Todd Waring – Broadway and theatre actor & writer
  • Regina Johnson – film festival executive producer
  • Abhiroop Basu – award-wining director & screenwriter, whose current projects include MEAL with Adil Hussain and LAALI with Pankaj Tripathi
  • Faraz Arif Ansari – award-winning writer and director whose silent, queer film SISAK has won multiple international awards, and his current project SHEER QORMA (starring Shabana Azmi) is starting its festival rounds

*Elizabeth Wood Coldicutt – producer and founder of an arts organisation in California



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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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