3rd I films

“An Insignificant Man,” a film based on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s rise from a social activist to a politician, is one of the films to be screened at the 15th annual ‘San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival: Bollywood and Beyond’. The festival features films by Indian American filmmakers and from the larger South Asian Diaspora. Kejriwal is seen here in a film still.

3rd i Films is set to host its 15th annual ‘San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival: Bollywood and Beyond’ next month.

The festival will run from Nov. 9 through Nov. 12 at the New People and Castro Theaters in San Francisco with a South Bay edition bowing Nov. 18 at the BlueLight Cinema in Cupertino.

The five-day festival will screen nearly 15 programs of narrative and documentary features and shorts by independent filmmakers from South Asia and the Indian American and larger South Asian Diaspora, including stories from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Australia and the U.S., the company said in a news release.

This year's festival captures the political zeitgeist of our times, bringing important questions about democracy and the political process to the screen, it said.

Among the features includes Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla's “An Insignificant Man,” a political thriller that follows the rise of Indian politician Arvind Kejriwal during the last election cycle in India. While the documentary premiered at the Toronto Film Festival to great acclaim, it faced heavy censorship in India due to its political content, according to 3rd i. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion that shines a light on democratic principles at stake across the world.

Another feature is Amit Masurkar's “Newton,” which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. It takes a decidedly different approach to the issue of political participation, using political satire to drive home its message. Newton, features rising indie actor Rajkumar Rao, chronicles one election day at a voting station in the heart of Maoist rebel territory, where politics and principles collide.

Naeem Mohaiemen's “Last Man in Dhaka Central” examines the idealism that makes revolutions possible, and the political complexities that cause them to fail.

Home movies offer rich fodder for filmmakers this year, their celluloid memories resurfacing stories about family and immigration, and reminding us that the personal is most definitely also the political. Arshad Khan's brave and intimate documentary “Abu” captures the tumultuous journey of a family immigrating to Canada from Pakistan in the early 1990s.

As the filmmaker comes to term with his own sexuality, he also has to come to terms with his once-liberal parents moving further towards a conservative strain of Islam, the film company said. Winner of numerous awards on the festival circuit, the film will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker in person.

Ali Kazimi's “Random Acts of Legacy,” uses archival home movie footage, that he won in an eBay bidding war, to bring light to immigrant stories that have otherwise been omitted from moving image history. Set in Chicago between the Great Depression and the post-war era, this award-winning film reveals the experiences of a first-generation Chinese family in America, and offers an important counter-narrative against today's xenophobia. The film will be followed by a skype Q&A with the filmmaker, the news release noted.

Home movies and family stories also weave themselves into our focus on women's voices this year.

Gingger Shankar's multimedia performance/film “Nari” tells the story of Lakshmi Shankar and Viji Shankar who travelled extensively across the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s with Ravi Shankar and the Beatles’ George Harrison bringing Indian music to the West, it said.

Another offering in this ongoing focus is Stanzin Dorjai and Christine Mordelet's documentary

“Shepherdess of the Glaciers,” a film set in Ladakh.

This year the festival offers Bollywood two ways – neo-noir and classic camp. Shanker Raman's dark and stylish neo-noir “Gurgaon” is based on a true story, and offers a taste of the gritty side of Bollywood associated with producer Anurag Kashyap.

Real estate mogul Kehri Singh has a dark secret in the deep recesses of his memory. When his son Nikki Singh concocts the ill-fated idea of kidnapping his sister for ransom, he sets off a chain of events that force his father to revisit the past and confront a brutal family truth.

Retro fantasia “Om Shanti Om,” on the other hand, is Bollywood spectacle at its very best, featuring Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan.

This year's kaleidoscope of shorts include “Coast to Coase: Mumbai to the Mission,” “Bad, Brown, Bride,” and Shilpa Ranade's magical “The World of Goopi and Bagha.”

Also screening in Cupertino is Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya's “The Cinema Travelers,” which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. Five years in the making, this poetic doc chronicles a traveling cinema roaming the Indian countryside delivering the miracle of cinema, according to the news release.

The festival will close with a cineplay offering of “Dance Like a Man.” Adapted from India’s successful play by Mahesh Dattani, the production is co-directed and stars theater actress Lilette Dubey, the news release said. A tragi-comedy at heart, the cineplay captures the tension and jealousy between a rising Bharatanatyam dancer and her parents, both dancers themselves.

Tickets are $11 if purchased online and $13 at the door. Advance ticketing is recommended as some shows are likely to sell out. Passes at the Castro run $28, in San Francisco for $105 and $38 for the Cupertino event, all of which can be purchased through Eventbrite.

More information about the festival, including expanded program and ticketing information is available at www.thirdi.org.

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