Entering into its 10th year, 3rd i’s San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival will be taking place on September 19-23 in the Mission District. The five-day festival will be held at the Roxie and Castro theaters and will feature a diverse selection of films and filmmakers from the Bay Area and around the world. In addition, the festival is holding a special one-day version of the festival in South Bay on September 30th.
This year’s festival will showcase internationally acclaimed features and documentaries on subjects as varied as global warming, Deepak Chopra, women’s rights, and urban life in East London.
Founded in 2001 by Ivan Jaigirdar and Camille Ramani, 3rd i is a non-profit organization that promotes creative films from the rich and diverse South Asian community nationwide. The name 3rd i is a reference to the spiritual idea of the “third eye,” meaning higher consciousness and internal reflection. The name also refers to the concepts of Third World and Third Cinema, while the “i” stands for independent cinema.
The first SF South Asian Film Festival was held in the Mission in 2003, and since then the festival has expanded to nearly 5,000 audience members.
“Our Bollywood showcase of course is the gateway drug in many cases to South Asian Films,” says 3rd i co-founder Ivan Jaigirdar. However, the festival also aims to foster support for experimental, art-based cinema from all South Asian countries, including Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
“Our lineup is exceptionally strong this year—and very diverse,” festival co-director Anuj Vaidya tells AsianWeek.
Here’s a taste of this year’s films and events:
- The festival kicks off with San Francisco-based documentarian Jon Shenk’s critically acclaimed The Island President, the story of Mohamed Nasheed, president of Maldives, and his efforts to fight climate change for the island nation threatened by flooding.
- Avie Luthra’s new feature-length version of his wildly popular short film, Lucky, which has won over 50 awards on the international film festival circuit
- Decoding Deepak, Gotham Chopra’s documentary on his father, famed spiritual guide Deepak Chopra. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Gotham Chopra.
- Homegrown Shorts, a collection of short films by Bay Area filmmakers, who will be present at the screening
- Herman’s House, by Canadian filmmaker Angad Bhalla, follows the relationship an artist forms with a man who has been in solitary confinement for over three decades, embarking on a project to design and construct his dream home. A panel discussion about prisons will follow.
- The World Before Her, directed by Nisha Pahuja, examines two worlds at odds with another –the world of beauty pageants and the world of Hindu-fundamentalist camps for women. Pahuja will be a special guest at the screening.
- Nirpal Bhogal’s SKET, which follows a gang of young girls who exact revenge on abusive men in East London’s housing estates. The film also boasts a rousing hip-hop soundtrack.
- Big in Bollywood, directed by Bill Bowles and Kenny Meehan, chronicles Indian-American actor Omi Vaidya’s rise to fame in Bollywood. The film with be shown closing night in South Bay. Omi Vaidya himself is expected to attend.
On August 23rd, SFISAFF is holding a free kickoff event at Macy’s in Union Square with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, DJs, entertainment, and henna tattooing. The kickoff is being hosted by Indian stand-up comedian Kabeezy. RSVP to the kickoff at email@example.com . Space is limited.
Tickets to SFISAFF will be available at www.thirdi.org/festival beginning August 24th.