South Asia has a vastly complex motion-picture industry, spanning a wide variety of stylistic and political traditions. Incredibly, the International South Asian Film Festival seems to have covered a lot of them. Some of the more established forms are represented by two films very different from one another. The festival opens with a 1928 picture, Shiraz, a black-and-white silent set at the Taj Mahal and presented with live tabla and sarod accompaniment. But the best-known type of movie from this region is the modern Indian "Bollywood" musical, adored for its signature melodrama, pretty people, and wild color schemes; Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham is said to deliver, in spades.
A new crop of filmmakers, though, wants little to do with such old fashions. As elsewhere, younger artists often have different fish to fry: Witness Asoka Handagama's Flying With One Wing, touted on the festival's Web site as "a Sri Lankan Boys Don't Cry," or DAM/AGE, Aradhana Seth and Arundhati Roy's documentary about author Roy's decision to become a political activist. The festival opens at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro (near Market), S.F. Sunday's screenings are at the Roxie Cinema, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is $8-37; call 835-4781 or visit www.thirdi.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Patrick McDonnell's mongrel art
Since I'm a hard-nosed, flinty, Lou Grant-type journalist, you won't usually find me getting suckered into a comic strip featuring cutesy dogs and cats, especially one about a feline with an adorable speech impediment. But though Patrick McDonnell's Mutts appears alongside treacly syndicated cartoons such as Family Circus, the whimsical, occasionally surreal strip bears more similarity to Doonesbury than Marmaduke.
Fans will get a more thorough glimpse of the artist with the November release of his Mutts: The Comic Art of Patrick McDonnell, a behind-the-scenes look at his life, work, and creative process. McDonnell celebrates with a book-release party featuring the SPCA's mobile pet adoption center, a book-signing, and a combination lecture and reception. The festivities begin at 11 a.m. at the Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission, S.F. Admission is free-$7; call 227-8666 or visit www.cartoonart.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
Old-school curios in S.F.
Sure, you can get Sörum and Hopen furnishings from IKEA, but you run the risk of having your domain resemble your old dorm room. Instead, evoke retro charm with one-of-a-kind artifacts from the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show, where dealers from London, Paris, and Nob Hill tempt you with pieces that have history, uniqueness, and the all-important provenance. Shop for a blast from the past starting at 10 a.m. at Fort Mason's Festival Pavilion, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 392-7600 or visit www.ehss.org.
-- Sunny Andersen
A Flickering Odalisque
In any figure-drawing class, lighting is important. Usually, it's arranged to provide a maximum of interesting contrasts. But the human eye can do more than respond to the obvious. Most people love the way nudes look by candlelight, and instructor Sydney Cohen will help students render them at "All Hallow's Eve: The Figure by Candlelight." Try not to squint, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the California College of the Arts, 5212 Broadway (at College), Oakland. Admission is $40; call (510) 594-3710 or visit www.cca.edu.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser