March 2006 Events

3rd i South Asian Shorts 2006

An exciting and inspiring array of South Asian short films from India, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Curated by Ivan Jagirdar of 3rd I

Sun 3/19 2:30 PM, Kabuki 8 Theatres, 1881 Post Street, San Francisco.
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Sun 3/26 6:45 PM, Camera 12 Cinemas, San Jose.
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UK 2005 | 20 mins
Director: Avie Luthra
A 10-year old South African AIDS orphan named ‘Lucky’ learns about life through an unlikely bond with an eccentric, prejudiced Indian woman.


Time and the Hour Run

USA 2005 | 15 mins
Director: Samir Patel
An evocative film about an established Indian motel owner in rural America haunted by visions of his late wife. He must realize the purpose of his life’s journey or else succumb to his maddening grief.


In Whose Name?

USA 2004 | 11 mins
Director: Nandini Sikand
Inspired by India’s changing political landscape, this meditative, experimental and personal filmic essay explores the co-opting of Hindu icons for right wing national agendas. This challenging and experimental short film is told through personal narrative, Super 8mm home movies, and Hollywood film and comic book art, creating an evocative pastiche of symbols and imagery.


Grinding Machine

India 2005 | 22 mins
Director: Umesh Kulkarni
A working-class family in India hopes for a better future with their small business, built around their own grinding machine. But the family struggles to maintain their humanity in the face of financial pressures and other demands of the “machine.” This is a beautifully shot film with Tarkovskian cinematic influences.


Viva Liberty!

UK 2005 | 20 mins
Director: Dishad Husain
Dishad Husain, filmmaker of last year's HOLLY BOLLY, returns with a playful and comic film about a British Muslim, Woody Ali, whose holiday in America takes an unfortunate detour when he unwittingly winds up in a notorious detention facility called "Camp Liberty." Will the deranged Major Winchester force him to admit to a crime he didn’t commit?


6 ft. in 7 min.

USA 2005 | 15 mins
Director: Rafael Del Toro
A wonderfully dark and entertaining comedy about Rajeev Reddi, an East Indian adolescent who has been surrounded by death all his life. On his 18th birthday he finally comes to understand why.



San Francisco Premiere
Canada 2005 | 114 mins | Color 35mm | Hindi w/E.S.
Sun 3/19 | 6:00 PM | Castro Theatre

Director, Deepa Mehta in person Buy Tickets Now!

In the long-awaited and magnificent conclusion to her “Elemental Trilogy,” Deepa Mehta builds upon her explorations of desire (FIRE, SFIAAFF Closing Night ’97) and nationalism (EARTH), to take on religion and the resilient power of the human spirit. Using its namesake as metaphor, WATER offers an inspiring vision of humanity—its unceasing and transformative power—through the stories of extraordinary individuals. Set during the birth of modern India, WATER draws a powerful parallel between a nation emerging from colonization and its women awakening to their own destinies.

The setting is 1938 India, during Gandhi’s rise to prominence. After an older “husband” whom she never met dies, the feisty eight-year-old Chuyia (Sarala, in a wonderful debut) is delivered to an ashram where, by Hindu law, widows are forced to live. Her head is shorn, and she is swathed in white cloths, habits that she will be required to wear for the rest of her life. The women she joins, young and old, are both resigned and resistant to their fates—until Chuyia’s rebellious spirit sends ripples through the house. She befriends the beautiful Kalyani (Lisa Ray) and explores the new world around her with aplomb. When a chance encounter introduces Kalyani to Gandhi nationalist Narayan (John Abraham), a forbidden love develops, setting in motion a conflict between custom and individual desire that will change these individuals forever.

In her finest film to date, Mehta continues her exploration of Indian history through the eyes of its daughters, mothers and wives. The work of a master filmmaker that is breathtakingly beautiful and profoundly moving, WATER bravely traverses the charged intersection of religion and gender, revealing an intimate story universal in its hope and affirmation.

—Chi-hui Yang



San Francisco Premiere
India 2005 | 130 mins | Color 35mm | Hindi w/E.S.

Sat 3/18 | 9:15 PM | Castro Theatre. Buy Tickets!

The works of Bengali novelist Sarat Chandra Chatterjee have proved a popular source of material for Indian cinema over the years, most notably the recent lavish production of DEVDAS by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Equally beloved has been the love story PARINEETA, filmed four times beforehand. It is now brought to life by veteran producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra (1942: A LOVE STORY) and talented first-time director Pradeep Sarkar, who shift the tale from 1914 (when the novel was written) to the vibrant, stylish and sultry modern world of 1962 Calcutta—an alluring character all its own, exquisitely re-created and ravishingly filmed. Shekhar (heartthrob Saif Ali Khan), son of a wealthy businessman, and Lolita (radiant newcomer Vidya Balan), an orphan living with her uncle’s family, are neighbors and childhood friends who fail to recognize the intense love between them until a businessman from London, Girish (Sanjay Dutt), arrives and sparks a love triangle. When Shekhar’s nefarious father plots to usurp Lolita’s uncle’s home and turn it into a hotel, he also engineers a rift between Shekhar and Lolita. Their spectrum of emotions—from torrid passion to wistful longing—are delivered in melodic tunes that recall the old-world charm of yesteryear. A refreshing throwback to the unbridled romanticism of a bygone era, PARINEETA is Bollywood cinema at its irresistible, old-fashioned best.

—Taro Goto



Punching At The Sun
San Francisco Premiere
USA 2006 | 82 mins | Color Video | English

Fri 3/17 | 7:00 PM | Kabuki 8 Theatres. Buy Tickets!
Sat 3/18 | 7:00 PM | Pacific Film Archive. Buy Tickets!
Fri 3/24 | 7:00 PM | San Jose Camera 12. Buy Tickets!

Director Tanuj Chopra’s lauded 2003 short BUTTERFLY was a whimsical, romantic look at love and culture, but for his feature debut he delves into more heady issues of racism and identity, rage and redemption. Set during the sweltering heat of summer in post-9/11 Queens, PUNCHING AT THE SUN concerns a South Asian teen, Mameet Nayak (played by electrifying newcomer Misu Khan), who is consumed with both personal and social demons after his older brother, a local streetball legend, is murdered in their family’s corner store.

Not only does Nayak have to struggle with his own guilt, but his borough is wrought with racial tensions. Within a Black and White world, Nayak and his desi friends quickly learn that being Brown is to be both invisible and hyper-visible. While his buddies turn to humor and hiphop as outlets for their frustrations and a way to resolve these contradictions, Nayak instead fends off the lure of violence.

Tackling the complexities of race and resentment, Chopra heads an emerging wave of South Asian American filmmakers moving beyond formulaic family melodramas and exotic cultural ethnographies. His piercing look into the contemporary experience of desi youth asks difficult questions about America’s delicate social balance, and refuses to indulge in easy resolutions.



View From A Grain Of Sand
World Premiere
USA 2006 | 80 mins | Color & B/W Video | English, Dari, Pashto

Mon 3/20 7:00 PM, Kabuki 8 Theatres. Buy Tickets!

Director Meena Nanji in person

Three remarkable Afghan refugee women consider the effects of the past 30 years of Afghan politics in Meena Nanji’s new work, which continues her exploration of “the global diaspora of post-colonial peoples and the disruption of cultural values, traditions and ideologies that result from these migrations” (Video Data Bank).

Shot over the last three years in the refugee camps of north-western Pakistan and the war-torn city of Kabul, Afghanistan, the film brings to life these seemingly academic theories through the unforgettable stories of its subjects: Shapire, a teacher; Roeena, a physician, and Wajeeha, a social activist. Combining Nanji’s empathetic feel for these women with archival and documentary footage, the film offers vignettes of day-to-day life in Afghanistan, moving from the rule of King
Mohammed Zahir Shah to the current Hamid Karzai government. VIEW FROM A GRAIN OF SAND also highlights the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), a group that was often the only witness of that country’s brutality against women.
The individuals featured in this film are inspiring not as fictional heroines, but as real people, with real lives. All have endured war, suffering and displacement, but are now working towards rebuilding their own lives, as well as the lives of fellow Afghan exiles, until that distant moment arrives when it is safe to return.

—Seema Arora



Memories in the Mist
San Francisco Premiere
India 2005 | 135 mins | Color 35mm | Bengali w/E.S.

Sat 3/18 4:30 PM, Pacific Film Archive. Buy Tickets!
Tue 3/21 7:30 PM, Kabuki 8 Theatres. Buy Tickets!

A shy Calcutta office clerk is haunted by memories of his father in this Buñuelian fable of family relationships, class, and global politics from Buddhadeb Dasgupta, director of THE WRESTLERS (SFIAAFF '01) and “India’s foremost director today” (International Film Festival of India). Saddled with a corrupt boss and a class-obsessed wife (Sameera Reddy), the shy, morally upright Sumanta (Rahul Bose) takes refuge in memories of his childhood, spent in an idyllic seaside home later destroyed by his father’s infidelity. His dreamscapes soon become his only comfort, alas, once his wife inexplicably becomes famous for writing a travel book about France without having actually been there (she “watched a videotape on Paris”).

Dasgupta blends a keen eye for the social fabric of middle-class Bengali life, its office politics and obsessions of success, with a typically off-kilter sense of satire and fantasy. “I learned from Luis Buñuel,” he notes, “that the real and the unreal can exist together.” Here dreams and visions emerge from the realities of Calcutta street life; seemingly random events blossom into moments of sadness, satire, or political commentary. As Sumanta, Rahul Bose turns the struggles of a seemingly passive man into a performance of true intensity, while starlet Sameera Reddy (“India’s Jennifer Lopez”) provides a splash of Bollywood spice as the middle-class wife obsessed with money, status, and all things American.

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