The San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival is now CAAMFest, an 11-day celebration of film, music, and food that takes place throughout San Francisco and Berkeley from March 14-24.

This year, South Asian female directors take center stage at the festival with provocative, bold new works. Auteur Deepa Mehta (The Elements Trilogy: Fire, Water, Earth) returns to the coveted Centerpiece spot with Midnight’s Children, an adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s Booker Prize-winning novel on India’s transition from British colonialism to independence. Telling the tale of two boys born into opposite classes of wealth and poverty, switched at birth on the day India became an independent nation.


The Reluctant Fundamentalist is acclaimed director Mira Nair’s boldly dramatic adaptation of a remarkable, timely novel starring Kiefer Sutherland, Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson and Liev Schreiber. The film chronicles the life of a Pakistani man altered by the prejudicial climate of post-9/11 America. Aided by Nair’s assured direction, Ahmed gives a magnificently textured performance as a Pakistani American whose attitude evolves from an eager willingness to assimilate to a deep dejection with his adopted country.

Defiantly eschewing Western portraits of Muslim women, Deepa Dhanraj’s Invoking Justice explores the first Women’s Jamaat (Assembly) in Tamil Nadu, where women are raising their voices and enacting new interpretations of Sharia law to demand gender equality. This remarkably intimate portrayal offers the women an opportunity to “talk back” to the male Jamaats, their aggressors and to anyone who has ever doubted the power and autonomy of a Muslim woman.

What happens when you put pianist Vijay Iyer, music critic Amrit Singh and members of Das Racist, Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer and Neon Indian into an Indian disco van to track down NYC’s best dosa? Find out in Amrit Singh’s and Sam Carroll’s Dosa Hunt, an insider’s jaunt through South Asian Americana, New York-style. Kicking off CAAMFest’s interactive and multi-media New Directions segment, the screening will be followed by a short set by Indian Bastards From Hell (Heems and Dapwell of Das Racist) and freshly served dosas in a perfect convergence of film, music, art and food.


When Hari Got Married is co-directed by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam (Dreaming Lhasa, SFIAAFF ’06). Hari is a chatty, gregarious taxi driver getting married to a girl he’s seen only once. Shy bride-to-be Suman is a welcome addition to Hari’s extended pastoral family. With ample humor and affection Hari examines the changes taking place as modernity and globalization meet age-old traditions and customs. When I Walk, an official selection of Sundance 2013, is a feature-length, point-of-view documentary about young filmmaker Jason DaSilva’s battle with multiple sclerosis. Through his cinematic talents and personality, DaSilva attempts to shed light not only on his struggles with the disease, but its impact on his creative process in this rousing example of storytelling at its most direct, personal and effective.

San Francisco venues include: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street; Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post Street; New People Cinema, 1746 Post Street; Great Star Theater, 636 Jackson Street; Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin Street; Hotel Kabuki, 1625 Post Street; Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street; Slate Bar, 2925 16th Street; and Superfrog Gallery at New People, 1746 Post Street. Berkeley venues include: Pacific Film Archive Theater, 2575 Bancroft Way. Oakland venues include: Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak Street.General admission, $12. Students, seniors (65+) and disabled adults, $11. www.caamedia.org.

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,...