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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont


3rd i’s 13th annual Annual San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival runs Oct. 22-25 (in SF) and Nov. 1 (in Palo Alto), and celebrates Freedoms, with stories from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the South Asian Diaspora.
From art-house classics to documentaries, from innovative and experimental visions to cutting-edge Bollywood, 3rd i Films promots diverse images of South Asians through independent film.


The five-day festival will screen 15 programs of narrative and documentary features and shorts.
Taking a cue from last year’s focus on music, this year’s Opening Night film documents the remarkable musical border-crossings of the Mozart of Madras. Jai Ho, by Umesh Aggarwal, examines the spectacular career of Bollywood’s living legend A.R.Rahman––from his first collaborations with director Mani Ratnam in the Tamil film industry to working with Andrew Lloyd Webber in London.
This film premiered earlier this year at the American Museum of the Moving Image, and most recently found its way to a screening inside the White House.

This year’s festival celebrates life, love and liberty with a Focus on Freedoms, which brings us inspiring stories from the front lines of the struggle for gender equality. Two short documentaries, Harjant Gill’s Mardistan (India) and Prasanna Vithanage’s Silence In The Courts (Sri Lanka), take a gender-integrated approach to the issue of sexual violence by examining how men and masculinities are embedded in this problem. SF-based Nyna Caputi’s empowering documentary, Petals In The Dust, explores the cultural origins of gender violence, and profiles the unimaginable stories of brave survivors. The program will play in Palo Alto, and will be followed by a panel discussion on the freedoms and futures of women in India.
The focus also examines the legacy of freedom for India and Pakistan—both historically, and in the present. The Voices Of Partition program will address the former through a screening of A Thin Wall, a documentary by Mara Ahmad that examines memory, history and the possibility of reconciliation. The film will be followed by a panel discussion featuring first-person accounts from elders and community members, organized in collaboration with the 1947 Partition Archive.

The festival’s centerpiece film at the Castro Theatre examines the continuing conundrum of Kashmir with a presentation of Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider, a masterful adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet that transposes the action to this war-torn region. Screen-writer Basharat Peer (writer of the book, Curfewed Nights) will be in attendance at the screening.

Indie narratives find a place on the program with a digitally restored print of Kamal Swaroop’s 1988 cult classic Om-Dar-Ba-Dar which has been described as the “great Indian LSD trip”; Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s tour-de-force Labor Of Love, a unique cinematic experience that won him the Best Young Director award at the 2014 Venice Film Festival; and Oscar-winning director Danis Tanovic’s (No Man’s Land) political thriller Tigers, based on the true story of a young Pakistani salesman’s battle against corporate greed featuring Bollywood star Emraan Hashmi (The Dirty Picture) and National Award-winning actress Geetanjali Thapa (Liar’s Dice).

Comedies, both of the Bollywood and Indie varieties, find a place on the program: Rajkumar Hirani’s inter-stellar offering, PK, features Bollywood star Aamir Khan as an inquisitive space alien who lands on earth with chaotic and comedic consequences, while M. Manikandan’s The Crow’s Egg, a hit at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival, is an energetic and entertaining Tamil-language feature that chronicles the adventures of two mischievous young brothers on their quest for pizza.

Chicago-based writer/performer Fawzia Mirza brings a queer perspective to the festival with her live performance Me, My Mom, And Sharmila, a hilarious and heartbreaking coming-of-age story peppered with personal anecdotes, pop culture and more. Two of her short films, The First Session and Reclaiming Pakistan, are also featured in the shorts program Coast To Coast: Mumbai To The Mission which offers us outstanding profiles of culture, celebration, courage and change.

October 22-25. New People and Castro Theaters in San Francisco. November 1st, at the CineArts Theater in Palo Alto. Festival, program, guest, and ticketing information at

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Mona Shah

Mona Shah is a multi-platform storyteller with expertise in digital communications, social media strategy, and content curation for Twitter and LinkedIn for C-suite executives. A journalist and editor,...