Liar’s Dice

Geetanjali Thapa in “Liar’s Dice,” screening Nov. 9 at New People Cinema in San Francisco as part of the 3rd i San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival.

San Leandro, Calif. — Thank goodness for good film festivals — else how would we get a chance to see hard-to-find films such as “Liar’s Dice” on the big screen? The National Award-winning film, which stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Geetanjali Thapa, is India’s submission to the 2015 Academy Awards.

“Dukhtar,” a Pakistani film about a woman’s attempt to rescue her 10-year-old daughter from an arranged marriage, has earned rave reviews for director Afia Nathaniel and is Pakistan’s 2015 Oscar submission. Nathaniel will attend the festival, said a spokesperson.

Both films will screen at the 12th annual 3rd i San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival, taking place Nov. 6-9 in San Francisco and Nov. 15 in Palo Alto, Calif. This year’s focus is on dance and music in film; while women directors will get special attention.

“For over a decade, 3rd i’s film festival has created a platform to view the most inspiring, accomplished and contemporary films from South Asia and the South Asian diaspora,” festival cofounder and executive director Ivan Jaigirdar told India-West in an e-mail. “Many of the films are not set for wide distribution, and some, like ‘Liar’s Dice’ and ‘Dukhtar,’ are the Oscar nominations for India and Pakistan, respectively.  So coming to the 3rd i Film Festival is a unique opportunity to get a pulse on our community.”

Among the films screening this year are “Meet the Patels,” a comic documentary about an Indian American man who agrees to his parents’ wishes for an arranged marriage; “Upaj: Improvise,” starring Kathak master Chitresh Das; and a new work by Indian American filmmaker Prashant Bhargava (“Patang”) called “Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi,” which pairs striking imagery with experimental music by Grammy-nominated pianist Vijay Iyer.

 3rd i’s popular “Bollywood at the Castro” program will presents the breakout hit “Queen” at San Francisco’s most iconic movie house; while the standup comedy documentary “Standup Planet,” introduces Indian American comic Hasan Minhaj, who coincidentally has just signed on as a cast member of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”

More highlights: the Marathi title “Fandry” took two National Awards, for best directorial debut and best child actor; and was named best feature film at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles; and Kanu Behl’s “Titli” recently screened in competition at Cannes. A Nov. 9 short film program (reportedly to include a screening of Puja Maewal’s award-winning short “Jaya,” about a teenaged street girl who poses as a boy in Mumbai), and a presentation by Los Angeles-based tabla artist Robin Sukhadia and Bollywood expert Manoj Shailendra are also on the menu. For more information and for the complete lineup of films, parties and panels, visit

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