Tag Archives: 2018

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) Changes For 2018

Major tax legislation at the end of 2017 has suspended many prized deductions for 2018 through 2025, while cutting tax rates. Here are the details:

Altered and eliminated tax deductions

  • Personal exemptions. You can no longer count on personal exemptions, including dependency exemptions for children and other relatives. They are eliminated.
  • State and local tax (SALT). The deduction for state and local tax (SALT) payments is limited to $10,000 annually.
  • Mortgage interest. Mortgage interest deductions are modified, including eliminating deductions for home equity loan payments…unless funds from the loan were used to build, buy or substantially improve your home.
  • Miscellaneous expenses. The deduction for miscellaneous expenses, including unreimbursed employee expenses, is eliminated.
  • Moving expenses. Deductions for moving are eliminated (except for military personnel).
  • Casualty and theft loss. Casualty and theft loss deductions are eliminated (except for losses in federally declared disaster areas).

Enhanced tax deductions

  • Standard deduction. The standard deduction was nearly doubled to $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for married filing jointly for 2018.
  • 20-percent business deduction. A new up-to-20 percent deduction is allowed for qualified business income (QBI) of pass-through entities, including sole proprietors.
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC). The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is doubled to $2,000 (with a maximum refundable amount of $1,400) per qualifying child.
  • Medical expenses. The threshold for deducting medical expenses is lowered from 10 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) to 7.5 percent of AGI for 2018.
  • Alternative minimum tax (AMT). Favorable modifications apply to the AMT calculations, meaning far fewer taxpayers will be affected.

 

REMINDER: Rules have changed for these five tax breaks

New tax legislation provides numerous tax benefits for individuals for 2018 through 2025. But not all the changes are likely to align with your go-to tax strategy from previous years. Here are five big tax breaks that could leave you with a tax surprise come April 2019.

State and local taxes: The new tax law limits the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) to $10,000 annually. This includes any combination of property taxes AND income or sales taxes.

Entertainment expenses: You can no longer deduct 50 percent of your entertainment expenses. But there’s still some leeway. According to a new IRS ruling, you may deduct 50 percent of food and beverages paid separately from entertainment like a basketball or hockey game. Also, a business can deduct 100 percent of the cost of its holiday party.

Miscellaneous expenses: The new law eliminates deductions for miscellaneous expenses, such as out-of-pocket employee business expenses. If possible, have these expenses reimbursed by your employer’s accountable plan. Generally, the expenses are deductible by the employer and tax-free to employees.

Kiddie tax: The kiddie tax continues to apply to unearned income above $2,100 received by a dependent child under 19 or full-time student under 24. But the new law puts more teeth into this tax. The kiddie tax is now based on the tax rates for estate and trusts. This generally produces a higher tax, so plan intra-family transfers accordingly.

Home equity loans: In the past, a homeowner could deduct mortgage interest paid on the first $100,000 of  home equity debt, regardless of use of the proceeds. The new law eliminates this deduction for home equity debt, unless the proceeds from the loan are used to buy, build or substantially improve your home. Fortunately, you may still deduct interest on the first $750,000 of acquisition debt acquired after December 2017.

 

Tax records needed for 2018 tax returns

  • Personal information: You still must provide your Social Security number (SSN), and SSNs for your spouse and dependents.  For electronic filing, you will need your CA driver’s license or state issued identification card.
  • Employment information: Have all Forms W-2 for you and your spouse. A self-employed person must report income from Forms 1099-MISC and Forms K-1, plus information for calculating the new deduction on qualified business income (QBI).
  • Child expenses: Provide information for claiming the increased Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Child and Dependent Care Credit. This may include details for a dependent care provider.
  • Investments: Include all information on various Forms 1099 for capital gains and losses (including cost/basis information), dividends and interest. Fortunately, this can often be scanned electronically.
  • Retirement plans/IRAs: Report contributions to plans and IRAs, the value of accounts and distributions received on Forms 1099-R.
  • Rental properties: This requires records of income received and expenses paid in 2018, including amounts, dates and places.
  • State and local taxes (SALT): Recent legislation limits annual SALT deductions to $10,000 for 2018-2025, but itemizers still need relevant records of SALT payments, especially for their California tax return, which does not conform to Federal limitations.
  • Charitable donations: If you itemize, you generally need records for both monetary gifts and donations of property, plus appraisals for property valued above $5,000.
  • Mortgage interest: Itemizers must have Forms 1098 for mortgage interest on acquisition debts that remain deductible.
  • Medical expenses: Collect records and receipts for medical expenses that may push you above the “floor” of 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2018.
  • Education expenses: Provide information required for claiming higher education credits, including Forms 1098-T.

 

Under the new legislation, you may not need records this year for miscellaneous expenses, many casualty and theft losses, moving expenses and home equity debts.

Please call, Shermin Tawni Alam of Alam Accountancy Corporation, PC at 408.445.1120 with questions about your particular tax situation.

 

Before The Waters Rise Again – Measure T Will Get San Jose Ready

Measure T, on the Nov. 6 ballot, would put $650 million into upgrading San Jose’s aging infrastructure that puts our communities at risk.  Many of our bridges and overpasses are old and deteriorating, and at risk of collapse in earthquake. Two of our City’s fire stations are falling apart and one of them is at risk of sliding into a nearby creek. Last year we saw how many of our neighborhoods were vulnerable to flooding. We can’t prevent natural disasters, but we can do more to protect ourselves by passing Measure T.

Measure T will make us all safer by:

*Replace deteriorating, earthquake-vulnerable bridges

*Upgrade 911 communications facilities to improve emergency response

*Upgrade emergency operations centers

*Reduce flooding by rebuilding parts of our 70-year-old stormwater system

*Preserve natural open space that protects against flooding during heavy rains

*Fix potholes and repave roads to prevent accidents

*Rebuild police training facilities and repair crumbling fire stations

 

 

 

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Walkathon/ 5k, 10K run and Half Marathon Om Run

Spring is a season that is referred to as the time for the rebirth of ideas, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection, and regrowth.

May 6th Om Run hosted in Vasona Park offered an opportunity for over 1800 people of the Bay Area to mingle in a 5K, 10K run, and half marathon allowing for socializing and having a family fun-filled day of activities together.

Hosted by Chinmaya Mission, which was established in India in 1953 by devotees of the world-renowned Vedanta teacher, His Holiness Swami Chinmayananda.  Guided by his vision, devotees all around the world formed the nucleus of a spiritual renaissance movement that now encompasses a wide range of spiritual, educational, and charitable activities, ennobling the lives of thousands in India and across its borders. Presently, headed by His Holiness Swami Swaroopananda, the Mission is administered by Central Chinmaya Mission Trust (CCMT) in Mumbai, India. Under his guidance, the Mission has continued mushrooming across the globe and stands today with over 300 centers worldwide.

Chinmaya Mission San Jose is one of them.

Swami Bodhatmananda Ji planted the OM Run seed in 2010, and since then it has germinated into a full-bloomed event year after year. Thanks to the fervor and zeal of over 200 volunteers who get an opportunity to serve in the event alongside with the Chinmaya Yuva Kendra (CHYK) our young adult members who are graduates of our Bala Vihar program.

Om Run has training sessions helping people and children train for the run prior to the big day that hosts a large outdoors “fair” (with rides, games, food stalls and other family-friendly activities). The organized event attracts Bay Area professionals from different fields. As a sponsor (depending upon the level of sponsorship), they get a booth at the event, a color advertisement in a professionally printed booklet that is handed out to each family that is registered and attends. The logo is also imprinted on the event T-shirt that is given to each registrant and of course, multiple shout-outs by the MCs of the event.  This avenue allows the sponsors to market and publicize their products and services while gaining leverage in the large south Asian community.

This run not only brings the Chinmaya Mission Family together but also encourages people of all clan to become health conscious as they renew, resurrect for the year.

Funds raised from OM Run are shared by several local and international charities like CORD (Chinmaya Organization for Rural Development), St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, American Diabetes Association, PACE (Pacific Autism Center for Education), where we support children with autistic challenges and Friends of Independent Networks (FINS), a local nonprofit helping an adult program to assist developmentally disabled individuals.

Chinmaya Mission in San Jose has many programs that involve a five-year-old to a senior citizen.

  •    Bala Vihar — to help children bloom, grow and inculcate values through fun-filled activities. Bala Vihar enhances the overall development of the personality of a child at all levels — physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.  Bhagwad Gita lectures are offered at no cost while Bal Vihar is in session.
  •    Chinmaya Yuva Kendra (CHYK) is a global youth wing of Chinmaya Mission. It aims to empower youth with the vision, values, and dynamism for success in all fields. CHYK conducts weekly classes where young people are made aware of their potential through the study of scriptures.
  •    Chinmaya Study group involves five to fifteen people who meet at a mutually agreed time, place and day for about ninety minutes each week. The group studies and discusses scriptural texts according to a prescribed syllabus that offers the seeker a systematic exposure to Vedanta.

We are observing increased participation as these programs provide an excellent platform for individuals to learn and get involved wholeheartedly. By maintaining an environment of encouragement, tolerance, and humility, Chinmaya Mission enables personal and spiritual growth of an individual and families.

By turning our attention away from our differences and working for a common goal, we slowly inch our way to see the Oneness in all of us. Events such as Om Run allow a seeker and sevak (volunteer) to turn attention from individual differences and work for a common goal, slowly inching to see the Oneness in all. The beauty here is that as one gets more involved, more internal subtle transformations will be reflected and experienced by an individual and people around them.

As Swami Bodhatmananda Ji says, “We need to understand that we will not always have control over external situations but we still have the choice of controlling our mind and responding to the circumstances appropriately. So, we must learn to manage our mind. This is possible by transforming our vision and perspective of life. Every situation in life should be seen as an opportunity to evolve, and then being becomes a beautiful adventure. Challenges and frustrations are part and parcel of life. We may not be successful in every venture we undertake. The fallacy is that we define success in a certain way in our mind, and we bind our happiness to that mindset. We become disappointed if we don’t achieve what we had defined as success. However, it is only through our mistakes do we learn and improve. The right thing is to keep this knowledge available and alive with us all the time as much as possible.”

Spring is the season of new beginnings. Let’s embrace this opportunity to bring a change within and around us.

For more information about Chinmaya Mission San Jose and its local activities look up: cmsj.org

 

Indian Film Festival LA 2018

The festival is widely recognized as the premiere showcase of groundbreaking Indian cinema globally. IFFLA will take place April 11-15, 2018 at Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center in Los Angeles. This is IFFLA’s second year in this state-of-the-art, world-class cinema in the heart of Los Angeles’ vibrant and developing downtown district. Zee Cinema is returning for a fourth year as presenting sponsor.

“This year’s lineup is a testament to the rich variety of genre, style and skill that exists within the Indian filmmaking community. We’re enormously proud to present this collection of exciting, inspiring, and challenging stories that are sure to make for a thrilling festival experience,” said Mike Dougherty, IFFLA’s Director of Programming.

The festival will open with IN THE SHADOWS, starring Manoj Bajpayee in a tour de force performance as a reclusive shopkeeper who vows to rescue his young neighbor from abuse at the hands of his father. The film premiered at the Mumbai Film Festival and features an impressive Bollywood cast that also includes Ranvir Shorey, Neeraj Kabi, Shahana Goswami and introduces Om Singh as the young boy. The film’s award-winning Los Angeles-based director Dipesh Jain – making his feature debut – will be in attendance along with star Manoj Bajpayee.

Festival will close with the Los Angeles premiere of VILLAGE ROCKSTARS, one of the most lauded Indian films on the festival circuit in the past year. The film premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and is directed by emerging Indian filmmaker Rima Das. The film, written, shot, edited and directed by Das, is a touching coming of age story of a ten-year-old girl in a remote Assamese village who dreams of buying a guitar and starting her own rock band.

This year the festival will feature four world premieres, three North American premieres, two U.S. premieres, and 14 Los Angeles premieres. The lineup represents an impressive 12 languages and a strong list of first and second time filmmakers, including 11 female filmmakers.

The festival will also hold a memorial tribute to the late, beloved Bollywood actress Sridevi. IFFLA will screen a 2K print of Sridevi’s 1989 hit CHANDNI, courtesy of Yash Raj Films.

Highlights from the lineup include the U.S. Premiere of IFFLA alum Hansal Mehta’s 2017 Toronto Film Festival selection OMERTA, featuring rising Indian star Rajkummar Rao as notorious real-life terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh as well as THE ASHRAM, directed by Ben Rekhi and starring Sam Keeley, Melissa Leo, and Kal Penn. Rekhi brings together this star-studded cast for a story of mystical intrigue in the Himalayas. The film’s screening will be preceded by the world premiere of short film FIFTEEN YEARS LATER, directed by and starring Manish Dayal (THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY, VICEROY’S HOUSE, TV’s The Resident), and co-starring recent Golden Globe winner Rachel Brosnahan of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Matt McGorry (How to Get Away with Murder, Orange is the New Black), and Tracy Mulholland (CRAZY STUPID LOVE).

Other films in the lineup include the 2017 Toronto Film Festival selection THE HUNGRY, starring Bollywood royalty Naseeruddin Shah and Tisca Chopra in a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus”; Devashish Makhija’s festival favorite AJJI, a revenge story centered on a woman seeking justice for her 10-year-old granddaughter after a brutal assault; Nila Madhab Panda’s eco-thriller DARK WIND; and a pair of Malayalam language features: Bash Mohammed’s delightful fish-out-of-water comedy PRAKASAN and TAKE OFF, featuring South Indian superstar Parvathy in the true story of courageous Indian nurses who travel to Iraq for work and find themselves thrust into a hostage negotiation with ISIS. Parvathy has received multiple accolades for the role, including Best Female Actor at the International Film Festival of India, the first time an Indian actor has been given this honor.

On the non-fiction side, Vaishali Sinha’s ASK THE SEXPERT, about 93-year-old sex advice columnist Dr. Mahinder Watsa, headlines a progressive group of documentaries that also includes Ann S. Kim and Priya Giri Desai’s LOVESICK, about Dr. Suniti Solomon’s matchmaking service for her HIV-positive patients, and UP DOWN AND SIDEWAYS, a stunning ethnographic portrait of an indigenous community and their remarkable musical traditions.

Several of the lineup’s talented filmmakers and actors will attend the festival, including Hansal Mehta (OMERTA), Bornila Chatterjee (THE HUNGRY), Vaishali Sinha (ASK THE SEXPERT), Nila Madhab Panda (DARK WIND), AJJI lead actress Sushama Deshpande, and many more.

Competing in the shorts program are 13 films including Sundance highlight COUNTERFEIT KUNKOO, directed by Reema Sengupta, the first Indian short to be featured in Park City in 15 years, and the world premiere of AN ESSAY OF THE RAIN, directed by IFFLA Grand Jury Prize winner Nagraj Manjule (FANDRY).

OPENING NIGHT GALA:  IN THE SHADOWS (Gali Guliyaan)
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Dipesh Jain

Logline: A reclusive shopkeeper vows to rescue his young neighbor from abuse – even if he must use his illegal network of surveillance cameras hidden around Old Delhi to do so.

Dipesh Jain’s impressive feature debut centers on Khuddoos (Manoj Bajpayee), a shopkeeper living in self-imposed isolation within the walled city of Old Delhi. In lieu of human interaction, Khuddoos monitors the people in his neighborhood via a series of hidden cameras he’s placed throughout the streets and alleys. Whether he fancies himself an amateur police officer or is a Peeping Tom is open to interpretation, but when Khuddoos hears the sounds of a young boy suffering abuse at the hands of his father – somewhere outside the view of Khuddoos’ cameras – he is spurred to take action.

Star Manoj Bajpayee delivers a tour de force, effortlessly relaying the deep wells of trauma that motivate Khuddoos’ sympathy for the unknown boy. Equally praiseworthy is 14-year-old first-time actor Om Singh as Idris, the subject of Khuddoos’ search. This young man possesses the gravitas of an actor with decades of experience, able to communicate his life’s history with one wounded look. Jain creates an intense, enthralling mystery around the shared pain of these two indelible characters, and in the process announces himself as a fiercely talented storyteller.

CLOSING NIGHT GALA: VILLAGE ROCKSTARS
India/2017/87mins/DCP/Assamese
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Rima Das

Logline: A ten-year-old girl in a remote Assamese village dreams of buying a guitar and starting her own rock band.

Dhunu, a free-spirited tomboy, lives with her widowed mother and older brother as they struggle to get by in their small village in Assam. One day, after seeing a band at a local event playing with Styrofoam “guitars”, she dreams of owning a real one of her own and becoming a rockstar. She saves money and forms a supporting band with the local boys, but her rockstar hopes seem impossible without magical thinking. After an epic rainfall destroys the local crops, Dhunu is caught between the fantasy life of youth and the harsh reality of adulthood. Having shot the film in her own home village of Chhaygaon, filmmaker Rima Das, who is the film’s director, writer, editor, director of photography, production designer, costume designer and casting director, shows the beauty of the landscape and people without hiding from the culture of conformity that threatens young girls. Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, VILLAGE ROCKSTARS has a soul and vision rare in Indian cinema today and marks Das as a major emerging filmmaker.

TRIBUTE PRESENTATION: CHANDNI
India/1989/187mins/DCP/Hindi
Director: Yash Chopra

IFFLA is honored to present this special memorial tribute to the late Sridevi, courtesy of Yash Raj Films. CHANDNI is a glorious ode to one of the finest actors of her generation at the peak of her career, beloved for her prolific work in Hindi as well as South Indian cinema. Fans of the late Vinod Khanna will also relish his performance in this film with evergreen songs, unexpected pathos and unabashed melodrama. Nearly 30 years later, the film remains one of Yash Chopra’s finest, and enshrines Sridevi with a character that arguably most closely matches her vulnerable and graceful real life persona.

Logline: After her fiancé is paralyzed in an accident, Chandni relocates to Mumbai and falls for a charming widower. When the two men become friends, Chandni must decide whom she truly loves.

When gregarious Rohit (Rishi Kapoor) meets the soft-spoken Chandni (Sridevi) at a wedding, it is love at first sight. After some dashing song-and-dance wooing in the Swiss mountains, Chandni agrees to his proposal. Tragically, Rohit is partly paralyzed in an accident and pushes her away. Chandni relocates to Mumbai where she falls for Lalit, a charming widower (Vinod Khanna). On a business trip, Lalit meets Rohit and they become fast friends; he invites Rohit to meet his fiancée. Chandni is overjoyed to see her ex rehabilitated, but is also placed on the horns of a romantic dilemma.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES

ASK THE SEXPERT
USA/India/2017/83mins/DCP/English, Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Vaishali Sinha

Logline: Meet Mumbai’s most popular, and controversial, newspaper columnist: 93-year-old sex expert Dr. Mahinder Watsa.

The most popular column in a daily newspaper in Mumbai is one people are hesitant to admit they read. With many states banning sex education in schools and a general taboo around any kind of public talk about sex, 93-year-old Dr. Mahinder Watsa’s column is a lifeline to millions. With humor and kindness, he addresses topics like masturbation, premature ejaculation, gender equality, and sexual pleasure in non-moralistic terms. In addition to the column, the need amongst the people for honest and factual discussion about sex leads him to answer hundreds of emails and even counsel couples and strangers who arrive at his home unannounced.

Dr. Watsa’s kindness and lifelong commitment to sex education and health has made him a willing combatant against the more conservative elements of Indian society that see his life’s work as immoral. With charm and joy, ASK THE SEXPERT shows the power of knowledge over ignorance.

LOVESICK
USA/2017/74mins/DCP/English, Tamil, Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Directors: Ann S. Kim and Priya Giri Desai

Logline: Realizing how damaging the fear of never being able to marry was for her HIV-positive Indian patients, one doctor sets up a matchmaking service to help them find love.

After discovering the first cases of HIV in India in 1986, Dr. Suniti Solomon left a prestigious academic job to build her own clinic focusing on treating HIV/AIDS patients. Several decades and breakthroughs in treatment later, her clinic is one of the highest regarded in the country and her patients are living longer lives. While surviving, some of her patients are not thriving. Being Indian, they feel immense societal and personal pressure to marry, but simultaneously face a stigma of being HIV-positive. Now in the twilight of her impressive career, Dr. Solomon takes the next step in her treatment by creating a matchmaking service for those seeking marriage. Through the service we meet Manu and Karthik, two of her patients who want to share their lives with someone but are fearful they never will. Shot over eight years and told with compassion and care, filmmakers Ann S. Kim and Priya Giri Desai give us a surprising and hopeful story about the universal healing ability of companionship and love.

UP DOWN AND SIDEWAYS
India/2017/83mins/DCP/Chokri
Los Angeles Premiere
Directors: Anushka Meenakshi and Iswar Srikumar

Logline: In a remote part of India, a co-operative of field workers has held off capitalism and Western pop culture by singing dazzling, polyharmonic folk songs, performed only when harvesting each other’s rice.

Directors Anushka Meenakshi and Iswar Srikumar took their camera to the farthest northeast corner of India to capture this ethnographic portrait of an indigenous community and their remarkable musical traditions. Villagers of Phet in the Nagaland region rely on rice cultivation as their primary means of subsistence. Together they form small teams called mülé, to work each other’s paddies year-round. As both men and women labor they sing lis, folk songs formally similar to the “call and response” style of African-American work music, but polyphonically more complex. The lyrics of love, friendship, strength and fatigue feel strikingly timeless and universal.

Lying on the border of Myanmar, the state of Nagaland has been fighting to preserve its cultural identity from Baptist missionaries as well as Indian government troops, permanently stationed there since a 1951 referendum on regional independence precipitated a federal crackdown. Despite the church’s efforts to divert singing to purely ecclesiastical purposes, the terraced hills around Phet are alive with the sound of mülés. This documentary should not be missed by music-loving IFFLA audiences.

NARRATIVE FEATURES

AJJI
India/2017/104mins/DCP/Hindi
North American Premiere
Director: Devashish Makhija

Logline: When a high-ranking politician’s son assaults her 10-year-old granddaughter and the police refuse to help, Ajji methodically devises a plan for revenge.

When 10-year-old Manda is brutally assaulted by Dhavle, a local politician’s violent and uncontrollable son, her family sees little hope for justice. Her parents – scraping by on meager earnings from technically illegal work – are scared into silence by a police force unwilling to hold the powerful accountable. Only Ajji, Manda’s aging grandmother, sees a path to vengeance. While Dhavle parades around town fearless of any reprisal, Ajji stealthily moves through dark alleys and butcher shops, methodically devising her plan for revenge.

Devashish Makhija’s engaging thriller casts a harsh eye on institutional corruption, inequality and above all, violence against women. In the title role, Sushma Deshpande brilliantly captures Ajji’s use of her status as an overlooked, underestimated woman to her advantage. Expected in her elder years to be docile, helpless and obedient, Ajji’s transformation into a determined avenging angel is riveting to watch, and her brutal revenge combined with Makhija’s sharp social commentary cuts deep.

THE ASHRAM
India/USA/2017/90mins/DCP/English
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Ben Rekhi

Logline: Jamie travels to the Himalayas, armed with nothing but a guilty conscience, to infiltrate a mysterious monastery that may be behind the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.

Ben Rekhi brings together a star-studded cast for a story of mystical intrigue in the Himalayas with a twisty plot and startling climax that is sure to provoke discussion.

Following the trail of his missing ex-girlfriend, Jamie (Sam Keeley) discovers a remote monastery in the mountains founded by a guru with allegedly miraculous powers. As Jamie tries to pry secrets from the guru’s devoted acolytes (played by Kal Penn, Radhika Apte, and Oscar-winner Melissa Leo) he becomes more convinced that they know more about his lover’s disappearance than they’re telling him.

While employing the conventions of the religious cult thriller, Rekhi raises philosophical and metaphysical questions about the inherent corruption of those who seek power, even to do good, and the miracles of mindfulness.

DARK WIND (Kadvi Hawa)
India/2017/99mins/DCP/Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Nila Madhab Panda

Logline: The father of a struggling farmer clashes with his son’s vicious debt collector in this incisive portrait of climate change’s effects across India.

IFFLA regulars Sanjay Mishra (MASAAN, ANKHON DEKHI) and Ranvir Shorey (A DEATH IN THE GUNJ, TITLI) bring to life this sensitive yet pointed dramatization of climate change’s effects on a diverse cross-section of Indian society. In the Mahua region of Rajasthan, once known for flourishing farmlands, the ever-decreasing rainfall has left farmers without a crop to sell, and therefore with no money to repay their hefty bank loans. Hedu, the father of one such farmer, fears his son’s misfortune will lead him to drastic action. He pays a visit to a notorious debt collection officer, known as the “god of death” for his vicious tactics, looking to strike a bargain. But the agreement they reach might offer solutions for some, and total ruin for others.

Director Nila Madhab Panda masterfully constructs a thrilling story that – while it seeks to educate – plays more like great drama than as a didactic lecture. Through the engaging performances of his skilled cast, he makes tangible the desperation caused by an ever more unpredictable environment, and pays close attention to the deception and betrayal some must resort to in order to survive in such a harsh climate.

THE HUNGRY
UK, India/2017/100mins/DCP/Hindi
U.S. Theatrical Premiere
Director: Bornila Chatterjee

Logline: A wedding celebration between two powerful families erupts into deceit, revenge and murder in this update of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.

In this all-star adaptation of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, the bard’s notoriously bloody tale of deceit and revenge is cleverly modernized by director Bornila Chatterjee and relocated to a sumptuous wedding celebration in Delhi. The approaching nuptials are meant to solidify a powerful union between the families of two business magnates – Tathagat (Naseeruddin Shah), the wealthy head of a corporate empire, will marry off his son to Tulsi (Tisca Chopra), the widow of his former partner. However, the sins of the father’s past have driven Tulsi to concoct a devious scheme for revenge, which threatens to set both families on an irreversible path to destruction.

Those familiar with Shakespeare’s play know that chaos is on the menu, and witnessing Chatterjee’s intricately designed re-telling unfold is a wicked delight. Though the film looks with both contempt and sympathy on its sprawling cast of characters, this is ultimately a biting, withering critique of a ruling class that’s long since abandoned any notions of selflessness or the greater good.

OMERTA
India/2017/96mins/DCP/Hindi, English, Urdu
U.S. Premiere
Director: Hansal Mehta

Logline: IFFLA alum Hansal Mehta directs rising star Rajkummar Rao in an examination of the life and crimes of notorious terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh.

Hansal Mehta returns to IFFLA with perhaps his most ambitious feature to date. Partnering once again with his muse, actor Rajkummar Rao, the two artists probe the life of British-born terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a man believed to have, among other despicable acts, funded the events of 9/11. In order to sketch a portrait of Saeed, Mehta and Rao bring us uncomfortably close to the man, combining known biographical elements of Saeed’s life with reenactments of crimes Saeed has confessed to, or is generally believed to have committed – most notoriously, the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.

While Mehta doesn’t purport to understand, much less explain, Saeed’s motivations – nor does he pretend his actions are anything other than vile – his skillfully mounted film provides a document of a terrorist who, undoubtedly, has had a massive influence on world events in the last twenty years.

PRAKASAN
India/2017/84mins/DCP/Malayalam
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Bash Mohammed

Logline: Against the advice of friends and family, naïve Prakasan eagerly accepts a new job offer in the big city, but when he finds out that his duties consist of educating sassy sex-workers he realizes he’s the one who has a lot to learn.

In this witty and sweet fish-out-of-water comedy, director Bash Mohammed illustrates the virtues of cinematic simplicity in a classic story told with empathy and skill.

The outrageously endearing Dinesh Prabhakar plays the titular Prakasan, a young man lucky enough to be born into a paradisiacal forest brimming with fresh fruit where he can make love to his girlfriend in luminous natural pools. Yet Prakasan is dying to see the big city, so when he receives a job offer from a World Bank program, he happily leaves his idyllic home behind.

But his arrival in town is a shocking awakening. Nobody speaks his language, and even in their native tongue people don’t mean what they say. Most importantly, he discovers his new job is to educate sex-workers about public health, leading to comic misunderstandings but also to profound lessons. The result is an uplifting, clever story that is sure to delight IFFLA audiences.

TAKE OFF
India/2017/132mins/DCP/Malayalam
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Mahesh Narayanan

Logline: Inspired by actual events, a team of Indian nurses in Iraq finds themselves trapped behind enemy lines in the war against ISIS.

Sameera (Parvathy), a nurse in Kerala, is determined to move to Iraq in order to make more money and pay off her suffocating student loans. Her husband and his family disapprove, leading to a divorce and his taking custody of their young son. Still unwavering in her decision, she agrees to a marriage with her work colleague Shaheed (Boban) and the two move to Tikrit, Iraq in 2014. Despite assurances from Indian and Iraqi officials that things are normal, the two are quickly involved in the daily violence from ISIS forces. Soon the city falls and Sameera is trapped, forcing her and Indian diplomats into a complex negotiation for the lives of herself, the other nurses and her husband. Parvathy gives a mesmerizing and layered performance of Sameera, an independent, fierce, yet vulnerable woman, that has won her many accolades including the Best Female Actor Award at the International Film Festival of India, the first ever for an Indian actor. First-time director’s Mahesh Narayanan’s TAKE OFF is both a compelling thriller and an exciting example of contemporary Malayalam cinema.

SHORTS

ABSENT
USA/India/2017/16mins/DCP/English
Director: Sudarshan Suresh

Logline: When Zola runs into an old fling, she sees a fleeting chance to escape her mundane life of caring for her invalid mother.

Zola can barely keep her head above water between the demands of a stressful job and the heavy burden of taking care of her invalid elderly mother. When she runs into an old fling, she sees a fleeting chance to escape the mundane treadmill of her life, and just for one night indulge in some romance.

Award-winning IFFLA alum Sudarshan Suresh (“Khargosh/The Rabbit”) examines with honesty and impeccable precision complex emotions oscillating between resentment and deep affection, in this beautiful character study about the chains that bind us to those we love.

THE CAREGIVER
Israel/2018/12mins/DCP/Hebrew, English, Gujarati
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Ruthy Pribar

Logline: Following a short trip to visit his family back in India, Raj returns to his job in Israel as caregiver to an elderly man, only to discover that a Filipino woman has taken his place.

Following a short trip to visit his family back in India, Raj returns to Israel and his work as caregiver to an elderly man, only to be greeted by a Filipino woman who seems to have taken over his job. When it becomes clear that the old man prefers a female presence around the house, Raj must find a way to reclaim what he feels is rightfully his.

With a humanistic lens that equally honors the complex realities of all three characters, this perceptive and sharply directed film sheds light onto the harsh realities of immigrant workers struggling to survive in an increasingly ruthless world.

COUNTERFEIT KUNKOO
India/2017/15mins/DCP/Hindi, Marathi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Reema Sengupta

Logline: Having escaped an abusive marriage, Smita is looking to rent an apartment in Mumbai, and she would be the perfect candidate if not for her one glaring flaw: she is a single woman without a husband to vouch for her.

Having escaped an abusive marriage, Smita is looking to rent an apartment in Mumbai. She is hardworking, financially independent and reliable, and would make the perfect tenant, if not for a single, unpardonable flaw—she is a single woman with no husband to vouch for her.

Boldly punctuated by an unsettling visual design, this nuanced and haunting portrait of an uncompromising woman determined to claim her rightful space, rises into a powerful outcry against a patriarchal society’s deep-rooted system of discrimination and misogyny. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

AN ESSAY OF THE RAIN
India/2017/26mins/DCP/Marathi
World Premiere
Director: Nagraj Manjule

Logline: A ten-year-old boy leading a harsh daily existence in a Maharashtra village blessed and cursed by merciless downpours, is given the homework assignment to write an essay in praise of rain.

Ten-year-old Raja leads a harsh daily existence in a Maharashtra village blessed and cursed by merciless downpours. Drenched and drained after an arduous day helping his drunken father and his mother with strenuous household chores, he must tend to his homework assignment and write an essay about the poetry and beauty of rain. But lush green mountains, flowing rivers, and magical rainbows are not what comes to mind for young Raja. His is another kind of essay on the rain.

Evocative cinematography and an unnerving soundscape make the pounding rain an unforgettable character in this film–omnipresent and unconquerable. Mixing raw realism with a dash of poetry and a gentle touch of humor, masterful storyteller Nagraj Manjule (FANDRY) delicately crafts a visceral and deeply moving tale about the disparities and ironies of life, and nature’s daunting reign.

FIFTEEN YEARS LATER
USA/2017/18mins/DCP/English
World Premiere
Director: Manish Dayal

Logline: Two young men independently deteriorate psychologically in post-9/11 America. Their lives come face to face fifteen years later.

Sam and Jason, two young men who have absorbed the psychological effects of post-9/11 America in ways they may not fully understand, find their buried issues and resentments bubbling to the surface when their lives intersect during a police traffic stop. Starring Manish Dayal (THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY, VICEROY’S HOUSE), Matt McGorry (TV’s How To Get Away With Murder, Orange Is The New Black), Rachel Brosnahan (TV’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, House Of Cards), and Tracy Mulholland (CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE, GRACE NOTE). Music from the Swet Shop Boys.

THE FISH CURRY (Maacher Jhol)
India/2017/12mins/DCP/Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Abhishek Verma

Logline: A reticent young man takes the leap to come out to his father over a lavish fish curry meal that he has lovingly prepared for him.

Lalit, a reserved young man, has decided to take the leap and come out to his family. He gets a haircut and invites his father over for dinner, having painstakingly prepared his favorite Bengali fish curry dish. As Lalit braces for the momentous occasion, his dad arrives armed with photos of eligible future wives.

A touching animated tale that examines delicate emotions with sensitivity and a fine eye for detail.

FISHERWOMAN AND TUK TUK
India/2015/15mins/DCP/N/A
North American Premiere
Director: Suresh Eriyat

Logline: When she discovers a pearl in the belly of a fish, a Konkani fisherwoman abandons her trade and indulges in her wildest fantasies.

When she discovers a pearl in the belly of a fish, a Konkani fisherwoman resigned to a mundane life of daily struggle, abandons her trade and indulges in her wildest fantasy. She buys herself a brightly colored rickshaw (“tuk tuk”) and starts to cruise at lightning speed through the winding roads of her coastal village, with her cats in tow. Finally released from her daily drudgery, ecstatic at her newly found sense of power and freedom, she is the talk of the town and her own greatest hero, when, suddenly, an accident threatens to thwart her indomitable spirit.

An exuberant, wild and joyous tale about a woman’s awakening of dormant desires, that celebrates the thrill of adventure and the triumph of dreaming big and pursuing even our most wacky, psychedelic fantasies against all odds. Soulfully told in loud color and trippy animation, the film has won India’s National Award for Animation.

KHOL (Open)
USA/2018/12mins/DCP/English
Director: Faroukh Virani

Logline: When his father passes away, a gay Gujarati American man must return to his small hometown to confront his estranged family.

When his father passes away, Vijay, a gay Gujarati American man must return to his small hometown to confront his estranged family. Tightly holding onto his armor of detachment, after years of alienation and bitter feelings of hurt and disappointment, Vijay sees any connection with his mother as utterly impossible. However, it may just be that the death of the patriarch may finally allow the seeds of acceptance to take root.

A poignant tale about the destructive force of parental rejection and the unexpected paths to forgiveness that may reveal themselves if we stay open to the possibility.

LAKSH
UK/India/2017/25mins/DCP/Hindi, Rajasthani dialect, Italian
World Premiere
Director: Jennifer Rosen

Logline: Sameer returns home to Delhi to visit his young son and confront the life he left behind since forging a new path in Italy.

Married, with a son and a decent job in Italy, Sameer has come to Delhi to spend time with his other wife from an arranged marriage, a Rajasthani woman, and their young son, Laksh. On the eve of his departure from India, much is discussed and even more is left unfinished. Under the questioning gaze of his beloved son who faces an uncertain future in a disintegrating slum, Sameer struggles to come to terms with the consequences of his decisions that leave him painfully torn between two distant but profoundly beloved homes.

Delicate emotions resonate with formidable power in this intimate portrait of a family profoundly disrupted by a man’s hope to liberate himself from the chains of poverty, a noble aim that harbors some unanticipated and harrowing consequences.

PASHI
India/2017/30mins/Blu-ray/Pahari, Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Siddharth Chauhan

Logline: In a remote Himachali village, a teenage boy experiences a sexual awakening when a handsome visitor passes through the area.

When his mom’s handsome friend unexpectedly shows up in the village, a teenage boy living in a remote area of Himachal Pradesh, is swept in a whirlwind of desire and vivid fantasy. As he struggles to rein in his strong impulses, he learns about “pashi”, an ancient technique of trapping birds, and begins to practice it.

Immersing us into a startling world of raw emotion and fierce imagination, this gripping exploration of young lust and its precarious impulses reveals a bold and razor sharp emerging storyteller.

TARA VERSUS
India/2017/21mins/DCP/English
World Premiere
Director: Ayesha Anna Ninan

Logline: When her best friend lands a high profile talent-booking job, Tara, an ambitious young comedian, loses all sense of humor.

Tara, an ambitious but struggling young comedian, loses all sense of humor when she finds out that her best friend has landed a high-profile talent booking job in Delhi. Unable to cope with intense feelings of jealousy and low self-esteem, she jeopardizes the friendship.

Framed by an enchanting performance by Aditi Vasudev (“Devi”), this heartfelt and spirited tale sheds light onto Mumbai’s urban youth and its competitive stand-up scene, where burgeoning ambition, a wavering sense of identity and heightened emotions are no funny matter.

TV IN THE FISH TAIL
USA/2017/13mins/DCP/Hindi
Director: Iesh Thapar

Logline: As electricity and the miracle of television first arrive in a remote Himalayan village, the friendship of two teenage boys is put to the test.

In an isolated Himalayan village, two teenage boys, Tinley and Kobai, witness the arrival of the first TV sets. The hydro power plant that has recently been installed in the area is seen by the local community with a mixture of marvel and apprehension, and equally divides the two best friends. Tinley’s wealthier family has already bought a TV set and is eagerly awaiting electricity to kick in, whereas Kobai is skeptical about how these monumental intrusions will affect the order of the universe.

A brooding sense of dread lurks underneath the peaceful scenery of this isolated world in this atmospheric tale where the supernatural and the real soon start to merge.

WHAT IS YOUR BROWN NUMBER?
India/2016/5mins/Blu-ray/English
North American Premiere
Director: Vinnie Ann Bose

Logline: An animated satirical look at India’s obsession with fair skin.

Outside a hospital delivery room, a large family eagerly awaits the arrival of a newborn baby. News of a healthy baby boy soon arrives, but joy turns to horror when they baby’s skin tone is announced: Brown Number 80 on the fairness scale.

An irreverent animated look at India’s obsession with fair skin, that is at once humorous and chilling.

YAMAN
India/2017/24mins/DCP/Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Raghuvir Joshi

Logline: Delicate threads of a tender but impossible relationship unravel, as a young couple waits in court for their divorce to be finalized.

We meet Vishal and Nitya in a courtroom, waiting to tend to their divorce. As we cut back and forth between cold court proceedings and snippets of their tender partnership in life and in art, an intimate portrait emerges of a complex relationship between two soulmates who although keenly attuned to each other, cannot give each other the kind of love they need.

Formidably performed by Sayani Gupta (MARGARITA WITH A STRAW) and Priyanshu Painyuli (ONCE AGAIN) and laced with evocative classical Indian musical interludes, this sensitive directorial debut paints a visceral picture of the wondrous beauty of human connection and the fathomless pain of unrequited love.

South India Fine Arts: Spring 2018 Season

South India Fine Arts (SIFA), is the premier organization in San Francisco Bay Area dedicated to the promotion, preservation, and presentation of South Indian fine arts. SIFA is proud to present its Spring 2018 Season artists.

We started off the Spring 2018 Seasion in February by celebrating Saint Thyagaraja’s Aradhana. A lot of talented local Bay Area artists and Bay Area Music/Dance Schools presented their tribute by presenting various Kritis of Saint Thyagaraja. Check out our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/carnaticmusicbayarea/ for photos/videos from this program.

We kick off April with a concert by the dynamic duo – Dr. Krishnakumar and Smt. Binni Krishnakumar, followed by amellifluous Flute concert by Shri. Shashank Subramanyam.

In May, we have a blockbuster Vocal concert by one of the giants in Carnatic Music — the great Shri T. V. Sankaranarayan, followed by a scintillating performance by the dynamic duo – Shri Ganesh and Shri Kumaresh on the Violin.

In June, we present a grand Vocal concert by Shri Palghat Ramprasad, the grandson of the legendary Mridangam player Palghat Mani Iyer.

In July, we have a divine Harikatha / Music Discourse by Harikatha exponent, Shri. Dushyanth Sridhar. We have also planned for an enchanting evening with a Vocal concert by Kum. Pragathi Guruprasad, who was the runner-up in the third season of the reality-based singing competition Airtel Super Singer Junior.

SIFA is super excited to present the above line up of artists and hopes that all rasikas would attend and enjoy the above concerts. We also would like to remind that SIFA sponsors get FREE admission to most concerts.

Please signup for Sponsorship here: https://care.way.com/#/public/13492

For the latest Concert information, including artists information, venue, timing and other details, please check our website http://www.southindiafinearts.org.