The theme of this year's 3rd i South Asian Film Festival is really about celebrating their 10th year, says Ivan Jaigirdar, the artistic director of the festival, which runs from Sept. 19-23, with films at the Roxie and Castro theaters in San Francisco. This year they've also added a day, Sept. 30, in San Jose at the Camera 12.
"We have some films that are more outside of the box this year," he said. "There's a mixture for different palates."
He points to a couple of examples:
"Herman's House is not a normal South Asian film," he said. "It's about an African-American man in solitary confinement and the prison industrial complex and what that does to humans."
Jaigirdar also mentions Lucky, one of his favorites in the festival, made by Avie Luthra, a psychologist who loves films. The story, about an older Indian woman and a South African orphan, was first a short that got nominated for an Oscar, and the director has now made it into a feature.
The opening night film is The Island President, made by Bay Area director Jon Shenk, about the president of the Maldives fighting against what climate change is doing to his low-lying island. Jaigirdar is excited that Shenk will be there for a Q&A, and he says the film, along with being about a topic, particularly important to South Asians, is visually stunning.
"Cinematically it's eye candy," he said. "But it's soul food at the same time."
Another director who will attend the festival to talk about her movie is CalArts graduate Tuni Chatterji, who made Okul Nodi (Endless River) about the river music in Bangladesh. It plays with a 35mm short, I Am Micro.
"Anuj and I are drawn to more lyrical and poetic films," said Jaigirdir, referring to associate director Anuj Vaidya. "When we saw it, it touched us on a deeper level. It has this rhythm."
Nisha Pahuja's The World Before Her, which won the World Documentary Competition at the Toronto Film Festival this year, shows young women preparing for the Miss India pageant as well as young girls in a camp run by the militant Hindu movement.
"What I'm trying to explore with the film is how women are being used in India to create two ideas of nationalism," Pahuja said. "There are these two competing ideologies and they are playing themselves out on the bodies of women."