3rd i’s 11th Annual San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival: Bollywood and Beyond (SFISAFF) will take place at the New People Cinema (Nov 6, 7, 8 and 10). and Castro Theater (Nov 9) in San Francisco this year. The festival’s South Bay edition will unfold at Aquarius Theater in Palo Alto, a week following the SF festival.
From art-house classics to documentaries, from innovative and experimental visions to cutting-edge Bollywood, 3rd i is committed to promoting diverse images of South Asians through independent film. The 2013 3rd i Festival showcases over 20 films from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Canada and USA.
This year, 3rd i Films celebrates 100 Years of Indian Cinema – the first Indian feature film, Raja Harishchandra by D. G. Phalke, was released in 1913. 3rd i commemorates South Asian cinema history at this year’s festival with CELLULOID MAN – a portrait of P.K. Nair, the founder of the National Film Archive of India, and the guardian of Indian cinema. The film recently won two awards at the 60th National Film Awards in India.
While women were not allowed to appear on the Indian screen a century ago, this is the year of the Celluloid woman at 3rd i. The festival’s focuse on gender with the Opening Night, Closing Night and Centerpiece Galas, all showcase women directors. The festival opens with Emmy-nominated Bay Area filmmakers Maren Grainger-Monsen and Nicole Newnham’s Independent Lens production THE REVOLUTIONARY OPTIMISTS. The doc, about three young trail-blazing agents of change in Calcutta, is also part of a spotlight on Voices of South Asian Youth. The film will play with Abhi Singh’s short BHIWANI JUNCTION about a Sikh boy who dreams of competing in the Olympics as a boxer.
3rd i Films is very excited to have Pratibha Parmar’s ALICE WALKER: BEAUTY IN TRUTH as the Closing Night film for the San Francisco edition of its festival. The doc is a penetrating look at the life of author Alice Walker, who became the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Color Purple in 1983. Both Parmar and Alice Walker will attend the screening.
The Centerpiece Galas at the Castro Theater on Saturday, November 9, include filmmaker Sabiha Sumar’s (of Silent Waters fame) North American premiere of GOOD MORNING KARACHI, which follows a young girl’s determination to rise beyond her humble origins and become a glamorous model in the city of Karachi. In Sumar’s deft hands, this becomes the story of today’s Pakistan, trying to reconcile the demands of tradition and the aspirations of modernity. The screening will be followed by an on-stage conversation between Sumar and Indian filmmaker Anusha Rizvi (of Peepli Live fame) on the changing role of women in South Asian cinema. Bombay-based documentarian and very popular 3rd i alum, Nishtha Jain, will showcase her latest doc GULABI GANG. A revolution is in the making among the poorest of the poor in Bundelkhand, India, as the fiery women of the Gulabi Gang empower themselves and take up the fight against gender violence, caste oppression and widespread corruption. The film, a veritable documentary thriller, received Best Documentary Award at the Dubai Film Festival last year. The film will have a second screening in the South Bay on November 16, where it will be followed by a panel discussion on gender violence in South Asia. Also part of the focus on gender is Jeff Roy’s MOHAMMED TO MAYA, where Mohammed, a Tamil Muslim man journeys to Singapore in order to have his sexual reassignment surgery, and returns as Maya. This plays with Crescent Diamond’s short PERFORMING GIRL, a portrait of the acclaimed Sri Lankan transgender performance artist D’Lo.
Sumar’s film doubles as part of a Spotlight on Pakistan at this year’s festival, which includes Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq’s THESE BIRDS WALK, a stellar piece of cinema verite that is a lyrical portrait of youth and street-life in Karachi. An ode to childhood, this Sundance Institute film has been rightfully compared to Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. The spotlight concludes with a South Bay screening of Cary McClelland’s WITHOUT SHEPHERDS, which follows six individuals (including cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and model Vaneeza) as they navigate the turbulent waters of contemporary Pakistan, and Fawzia Afzal-Khan’s FROM MELODY QUEEN TO MUSLIM MADONNA, which traces the history of Pakistan through its female musicians.
Friday Night in San Francisco showcases two indie narratives: the first, Vasan Bala’s PEDDLERS, is an edgy thriller from the edges of Bollywood. Produced by indie-guru Anurag Kashyap, this film set in the Mumbai drug world had an explosive debut at Cannes’ Critics Week in 2012. The second, SIMPLE SUPERSTAR, is the US premier of the feature debut by India’s first YouTube star Wilbur Sagunaraj. Part autobiography, part road trip, and part instructional video, this whacky musical is the work of a creative genius. Both filmmakers will be in attendance at the festival. Other narrative features at the festival include the exceptional Sri Lankan independent film WITH YOU, WITHOUT YOU by Prasanna Vithanage, and Anand Gandhi’s landmark SHIP OF THESEUS (shortlisted by members of the Critics Circle, UK as one of 15 ‘films that changed their life’) which will close out the entire festival in Palo Alto. Saturday Night at the Castro, as always, is reserved for a raucous, fun-filled Bollywood extravaganza, which will be announced shortly.
Documentaries – historical, inspirational and intimate – make an especially strong showing this year. Apart from the many titles already mentioned above, the festival will also screen Sushrut Jain’s BEYOND ALL BOUNDARIES about India’s favorite national obsession – Cricket. Both entertaining and enlightening, this doc follows the story of these three characters – a fan(atic) who bikes across India from game to game, a boy wonder who hopes to be the next Sachin Tendulkar, and a young girl who sees cricket as a way out of poverty. Both the filmmaker, and the producer (Actor Kunal Nayyar of Big Bang Theory fame), will attend the San Francisco screening of the film.
And as always, Bay Area shorts filmmakers find a special place in the program with the shorts compilation – COAST TO COAST: FROM MUMBAI TO THE MISSION. This year’s program expands its focus – both literally and metaphorically – with films that examine both the natural and the cultural, by filmmakers both local and global. A highlight is Ritesh Batra’s (of Lunchbox fame) CAFE REGULAR, CAIRO.
Confirmed Special Guests attending include:
Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth
Pratibha Parmar – Director
Beyond All Boundaries
Sushrut Jain –Director
Kunal Nayyar – Producer/Narrator
Abhi Singh – Writer/Director
Good Morning Karachi
Sabiha Sumar – Director/Writer
Nishtha Jain – Director/Writer
Mohammed to Maya
Jeff Roy – Director
Maya Nasser – Subject
Crescent Diamond – Director
Ship of Theseus
Negin Singh – Producer
Wilbur Sagunaraj – Director/Writer
The Revolutionary Optimists
Maren Grainger-Monsen – Co-Director
Nicole Newnham – Co-Director
Cary McClelland – Director
Tickets and passes, festival information, including film descriptions, programs and special guest information: Click