From art-house classics to documentaries to innovative and experimental visions to cutting-edge Bollywood, 3rd i’s 16th annual San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival: Bollywood and Beyond is set to promote diverse images of South Asians through independent films.
The five-day festival, which ran at the New People and Castro Theaters in San Francisco, Calif., Nov. 1-4, before moving to Palo Alto, Calif., Nov. 17, will screen over a dozen narrative and documentary features and shorts by independent filmmakers from South Asia and the South Asian diaspora, including stories from India, Sri Lanka, Canada, and the U.S.
Rima Das’ “Village Rockstars,” which is India’s official entry to the 2019 Oscars, is screened on Nov. 2. A magical coming-of-age film, reminiscent of Satyajit Ray, “Village Rockstars” follows the feisty young Dhunu and her frolicking band of friends, who rock out to their styrofoam instruments and dream of becoming real musicians. When the village elders complain about Dhunu’s tomboyish ways, her mother stands up for her, in the film’s subtle yet radical feminist gesture.
Another stellar narrative is Rohena Gera’s “Sir,” which explores the forbidden attraction between Ratna, a maid, and her employer Ashwin, a wealthy Mumbai bachelor, with each character quietly yearning to break free from the narrow bounds of their class and gender-based expectations.
Sarita Khurana and Smriti Mundhra put women’s issues at the center of their doc, “A Suitable Girl.” Winner of the prestigious Albert Maysles Award for ‘Best New Documentary Director’ at the Tribeca International Film Festival in 2017, this film documents three young women’s arranged marriages and matchmaking processes in vérité over four years, and examines the many nuanced ways that these women negotiate social expectations with their own dreams.
Attiya Khan and Lawrence Jackson’s “A Better Man” shows viewers how they can change the conversation on domestic abuse, especially when men take responsibility for their actions.
San Francisco based filmmaker Indu Krishnan’s “Good Guy Bad Guy” chronicles five years in the tumultuous life of Zakhir, a gentle soul who lives on the streets of Bangalore, with an ill-fitting murder-charge to his name.
Bay Area-based Harleen Singh gathers together three comic book artists – Keith Knight, Eileen Alden and Vishvajit Singh, aka “Sikh Captain America” – to examine issues of diversity, representation, and racism in her stereo-type busting doc about comic book superheroes, “Drawn Together: Comics, Diversity, And Stereotypes.” The film will screen alongside Berkeley-based Rucha Chitnis’ short, “In The Land Of My Ancestors,” which celebrates the living legacy of Ohlone elder Ann Marie Sayers, and “Macher Jhol,” Abhishek Verma’s animation that captures the trials and tribulations of coming out in India.
Documentaries which will be screened at the fest include: “Up, Down and Sideways” by Anushka Meenakshi and Iswar Srikumar; Vaishali Sinha’s “Ask The Sexpert”; and Pakistani filmmaker Sabiha Sumar’s “Azmaish: A Journey Through The Subcontinent.”
Bollywood films to be screened include Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor’s love saga, “Befikre” and “Shalom Bollywood: The Untold Story Of Indian Cinema,” Ben-Moshe’s documentary which follows the stories of four Jewish girls who ruled the Indian screen for over four decades.”
For tickets and more information, visit www.thirdi.org.