The 27th annual San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival offers a good mix of South Asian films, some of which have been highlighted below. March 12-22.
Check complete show listings and times.
Kanchivaram: A Communist Confession (India)
Priyadarshan, the famed director of such commercial Indian cinema hits as “Virasat” and “Garam Masala,” returns to his South Indian roots with a combination of Bollywood flair, social commitment, and film-noir grit. Vengadam is a silk weaver, who knows that he will never earn enough to afford the saris he weaves, a situation that soon becomes challenged by the arrival of a communist organizer. Falling under the spell of the man’s rhetoric—and promising his own daughter a silk sari for her wedding day—Vengadam feverishly devotes himself to the cause, but must eventually decide which cause—the political or the personal—to ultimately embrace. In Tamil with English subtitles.
The Forgotten Woman (Canada/India) The Forgotten Woman begins in the city of widows, the Indian holy city of Vrindavan, with striking images of widows living in poverty. An older woman says, “I was gifted to my husband when I was 5. He died and I became a widow. One by one my family died…I’m still here…there’s nobody left to light the lamp.” In English, Bengali, and Hindi with English subtitles.
Heaven On Earth (Canada)
Deepa Mehta’s eighth feature bursts open with a kaleidoscope of colors and laughter as the lovely Chand (Preity Zinta) is feted before leaving Punjab to be married in Toronto. When she steps off the plane, however, the world which meets her is nothing that she imagined, and one that will threaten to tear her apart just as it sparks her imagination. Building off her career-long exploration of gender and patriarchy, Mehta locates the dangerous undercurrents of emotion that course through immigrant life and the line where fantasy and reality unite.In English and Punjabi with English subtitles.
Karma Calling (USA)
Family head Ram Raj is sinking into credit card debt and has to call the Indian mafia in Hoboken for help. His daughter Sonal is losing her heart to call-center operator Rob Roy without realizing he’s across a couple of oceans practicing accent naturalization. Her brother, Shyam, is a college drop-out with a hip-hop album, “Hapa Means Weed in Japanese.” Their little sister, Jamuna, wants to have the first Hindu Bat Mitzvah. In English/Hindi with English subtitles.
The Mosque in Morgantown (USA) Morgantown seems an unlikely battleground for the soul of Islam in America. But that’s what happens when journalist Asra Nomani walks up to the door of a nondescript mosque in the West Virginia university town. Her demand that women be allowed to pray with the men, instead of being relegated to the backroom, ignites a national controversy. “The Mosque in Morgantown” goes behind the sensational rebel in the mosque headlines to present a nuanced, complex portrait of the real tensions in a community that since 9/11 finds itself under a harsh spotlight.
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (India)
Mega-star Shah Rukh Khan lights up the screen in this sweet, mischievous love story that brims with energy and heart. Khan plays Suri, a timid, mustachioed office worker whose drab world changes when he marries the beautiful, sorrowful Taani (Anushka Sharma), who’s still grieving over the loss of her fiance. Hoping to mend Taani’s broken heart, Suri transforms himself into a fun-loving alter-ego with the help of his flamboyant best friend and hairdresser. His mission: to bring Taani out of her shell and allow her to live fully again. In Hindi with English subtitles.