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Four Samosas directed by Ravi Kapoor
Four Samosas directed by Ravi Kapoor

3rd i’s 20th Annual San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival: Bollywood and Beyond (SFISAFF) will take place at the Roxie and Castro theaters in San Francisco from September 23-25!

After two years of presenting the Festival online, 3rd i returns to theaters to showcase edgy narratives, fun indie films, and unique music documentaries from South Asia and its Diaspora, including stories from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, France, UK, Canada and the USA.

The Festival launches with a lively, entertaining and playful Opening Night feature Four Samosas (USA, 2022). Written and directed by Ravi Kapoor (Miss India America), this fun romantic comedy affectionately incorporates Indian cultural ideals into an American heist movie genre, creating a mixture or “masala” reviewed as the most unique film to come out of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Director/actor Ravi Kapoor and actor Venk Potula will be present for Q&A.

3rd i goes back in time to visit the 90s legendary South Asian British music scene in director Vivek Bald’s Mutiny: Asians Storm British Music (USA, 2003). A thrilling and unique mix of live performances, candid interviews and rare archival footage, director Vivek Bald charts the meteoric rise of South Asian music in 1990’s Britain and the decades of cultural cross-pollination and political struggle that led up to that historic moment. Some of the greatest innovative 90s artists are featured: Asian Dub Foundation, Talvin Singh, State of Bengal, Fun-Da-Mental, Anjali, DJ Ritu, Cornershop, Joi, Black Star Liner and more. Director Vivek Bald will be present for Q&A.

For 3rd i’s Bollywood at the Castro, we take a spectacular gaze at a blockbuster classic with exuberance and camp on the historic theater’s BIG SCREEN – one of the most fun and popular events at the festival! With smoky Rani Mukherjee, hunky Shahid Kapoor and the booty-shaking, percussive joy of Punjabi music, Anurag Singh’s feature Dil Bole Hadippa (India, 2009) bursts with vibrant, firecracker charm.

Filled with wonder and imagination, Irfana Majumdar’s dramatic feature Shankar’s Fairies (India, 2021) is a nostalgic and insightful period piece that portrays a privileged family in Lucknow, India in the 1960s. The narrative simultaneously delves into the close bond between the young daughter of a wealthy family and their servant who shares magical stories, and the postcolonial era in which India is newly independent but still remains bound by caste and class.

Cinephiles won’t want to miss the wry, art house dark comedy Adieu Godard (India, 2021). An unlikely fan of the legendary Jean Luc-Godard emerges in a small village in north eastern India when a Godard Breathless DVD is mistaken for a “French pornographic film.” Director Amartya Bhattacharyya pays homage to and draws inspiration from his favorite film maker, the legendary auteur Jean Luc-Godard and his early 1960s French New wave films.

Illuminating documentaries also appear in the lineup. Peering back in time at black
and brown histories and familial roots, In Search of Bengali Harlem (Bald/Ullah, USA, 2022) takes us on a journey from the streets of New York to the villages of Bangladesh, transforming our understanding of the complex histories of South Asian Americans. Alaudin Ullah uncovers his parents’ past and discovers the extraordinary history of mid-20th century Harlem’s Bengali, African American and Puerto Rican communities – in which the likes of Malcolm X and Miles Davis shared space and broke bread with immigrants from the subcontinent. Director Vivek Bald will be present for Q&A.

3rd i also looks to the future, giving ear to Young Voices confronting the realities of our global environmental crisis and finding hope in Cyril Dion’s Animal (France, 2021). The insightful doc takes a fresh look at climate change and the sixth mass extinction of wildlife through the eyes of 16-year-old environmental activists, Vipulan Puvaneswaran and Bella Lack. Through their investigative journey we become more aware of how we are linked to all other species, learning that by saving them, we also save ourselves, providing the possibility of a brighter future.

Comedy features prominently in “Coast to Coast: Mumbai to the Mission”, 3rd i’s annual signature shorts program which brings California filmmakers in conversation with filmmakers from South Asia and the Diaspora. The Voices of Women filmmakers shine brightly, taking the lead from short-form documentaries to dramatic narratives, in genres ranging from comedy to animation. This year’s edition tackles stories of relationships, identity, LGBTQ+ and social justice. “Coast to Coast” continues with a second program, FREE and available online Oct 6 at thirdi.org.

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