Even the most intrepid movie hounds have been known to throw up their hands in frustration at the sprawling programs of the larger local festivals. But its a snap picking out the good stuff in 3rd is smashing S.F. International South Asian Film Festival
-- the tightly scheduled weekend bash simply has no room for filler. The barn-burning Bollywood opus Om Shanti Om
(7:30 p.m.) and the Pakistani zombie picture Hells Ground
(11 p.m.) are obvious crowd-pleasers, along with the high-octane closing night pick, Danny Boyles Mumbai-set rags-to-riches, realism-to-romance fable Slumdog Millionaire
(Nov. 16). Rewards of a more delicate nature are provided by the dreamlike Bioscope
(also Nov. 16), which evokes the magic and mysterious power of cinema through its tale of an Indian villages first exposure to motion pictures in the 1920s. Documentary maker Nishtha Jain confronts a different cinematic power, the kind that comes with pointing the camera, in Lakshmi and Me
(1:45 p.m.), an intimate and profound portrait of her maid. Its amazing how much you can see with a third i.
The festival continues Nov. 15-16 at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro (at Market), S.F.
Nov. 13-16, 2008