It’s time for the 13th edition of the San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival! Presented by 3rd i Films, the festival showcases independent films that promote diverse images of South Asians. For five days, October 22-25 in San Francisco and November 1 in Palo Alto, the festival will go “Beyond Bollywood” to highlight a host of important themes, including a special Focus on Freedoms this year with stories of the struggle for gender equality, and of the legacy of freedom for India and Pakistan. For details on all the festival films, venues, showtimes, and more visit http://www.thirdi.org/.
For 2015, the festival organizers have created a program that’s bound to engage and amaze audiences with its impressive range of stories. Check back soon for more festival posts on The Aerogram by me and other contributors who are attending this year’s festival. In the meantime, here are a few of the notable selections from the festival to add to your watch-list.
Director Umesh Aggrawal’s documentary is the opening night film tonight, and it takes a personal look at the work and life of musical genius A.R. Rahman. He created the Oscar and Grammy-winning soundtrack to Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, and Aggrawal’s doc interviews Boyle, Andrew Lloyd Webber and many others who have worked with the iconic artist who rose to fame from humble beginnings in the Tamil film industry. (Trailer.)
The Crow’s Egg (Kaaka Muttai)
The two young brothers in this film live in a Chennai slum with their mother and grandmother, and after seeing pizza in a TV ad, they just can’t get it out of their minds and can’t wait to get their first taste of it. The film follows them as they devise ways to raise the money they need to buy pizza and overcome the other obstacles that arise. Directed by M. Manikandan, The Crow’s Egg has won India’s National Awards for Best Children’s Film, and for newcomers Vignesh and Ramesh, Best Child Artist. (Trailer.)
Prasanna Vithanage’s 57-minute documentary explores the stories of two women from rural Sri Lanka who sought justice for being sexually abused by a judge while their husbands are in custody. It also traces the efforts of the journalist who wrote in-depth stories highlighting their plight, and attempts to understand this shocking miscarriage of justice and how the powerful can sometimes be above the law. The filmmaker will be present for a Q&A following Sunday’s screening. (Trailer.)
Closing out the San Francisco portion of the festival program, this film event is described as a “secret” work-in-progress screening, sure to be a “high”-light of the festival, from director Tanuj Chopra. Stoner best friends Cam and Jinky process a big decision in the park. PhD candidate Cam’s dilemma involves a favor for her fiance that pits her sense of loyalty against her independence. Filmmaker, editor and actresses will be present for a Q&A following the film.
Saturday’s program takes place at the Castro Theatre, a spacious and historic venue with the added bonus of a Wurlitzer organ performance before showtimes. The remaining dates take place at New People Cinema in San Francisco and CineArts theater in Palo Alto — both are relatively smaller venues, and purchasing film tickets in advance is advised ($10 online, $13 at the door).