The Indian Film Festival of Ireland is an annual event founded on the rubric of U and US Films Ltd. company owned by Siraj Zaidi, the Festival Director. His experience of twenty years in independent film distribution and exhibition made him introduce a hugely popular Indian cinema slot several years back in the Irish Film Institute. He then decided to start a dedicated festival to make Indian films more mainstream and to introduce people in Ireland to the global appeal and popularity of Indian cinema. IFFI is the only film festival in Ireland that aims to create an environment of collaboration among Indian and European film makers. IFFI has been going stronger for over last nine years and champions the arts and cinema, intertwining political and social messages with entertainment.
Back in the early 1990’s when i was heavily involved with the distribution of Indian films at Dublin’s Irish Film Institute and held retrospective of Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar, two leading names of Indian cinema and held the first forum on the popular Indian Cinema, I realised that there is a gap in Ireland to expose the Irish indigenous audience to the more meaningful Indian cinema as opposed to just popular so called Bollywood Cinema. A dedicated Indian film festival was the obvious natural progression for me in order to present an attractive bouquet of critical Indian cinema. Just like many other parts of the world where Indian cinema is considered all singing and dancing, Irish people also had a misconception about Indian cinema. This was quite disheartening to me and hard to fathom. I had to take up the challenge to change this misconception. To set the record straight I started introducing the modern cutting edge, new wave Indian cinema. Also, it was important to introduce the old indian classic cinema. As the Indian masses cannot travel the world but through the window of cinema they can see the world, the introduction of Ireland to the visiting Indian film directors, producers and stars was equally important task for me to market Ireland as an attractive destination for the largest prolific film industry in the world. They actively started exploring virgin territories as filming locations.