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San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival 

Wednesday, Oct 21 2015
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The mission of 3rdi Films' San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival is to promote diverse images of South Asian people through indie film, ranging from art-house classics to Bollywood spectaculars. Indeed, the theme of this 13th annual shindig is "Bollywood and Beyond," and one of this year's highlights is Vishal Bhardwaj'sHaider, which transposesHamletto the political turmoil of 1995 Kashmir. There's really no way to screw upHamlet, and Bhardwaj's terrific film absolutely demands to be seen on the Castro's big screen, particularly for the film's lone corker of a dance scene. Bollywood also gets its due with the opening night film at New People Cinema, Umesh Aggarwal'sJai Ho, a documentary about Indian music superstar A.R. Rahman (whose work American audiences will know if they sawSlumdog Millionaire). "Diverse images" are not the same as "unfailingly positive," henceNyna Pais Caputi's troubling but vital documentaryPetals in the Dust: The Endangered Indian Girls, which looks at the oppression and violence against women in modern India. Meanwhile, making its American premiere is a digital restoration of Kamal Swaroop's 1998 cult filmOm Dar-B-Dar, a surreal coming-of-age story which one critic called "the great Indian LSD trip." What more do you need to know? Get thee to 3rdi, and feed your head.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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