The 16th annual South Asian Film Festival, a joint production of Enzian and the Asian Cultural Association, has its lineup all ready to go for this year’s eagerly anticipated event, October 2 – 4. Opening and closing the festivities (and the only film to get two screenings) will be Anusha Rizvi’s debut feature, PEEPLI LIVE. Produced by Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan, this unexpectedly irreverent comic gem of a satire audaciously takes as its central subject the tragic rash of farmer suicides that has plagued rural India for the last decade, and turns it into a funny and incisive look at the social absurdities affecting the country.
Second on the bill is MACHAN, winner of 10 international film festival awards including two at Venice, and the directorial debut of Uberto Pasolini, one of the producers of THE FULL MONTY. Another big-hearted comic drama of men hatching an unusual plan to hang on to their self-esteem, this story of a group of poor Sri Lankans who try to emigrate to Europe by posing as a national handball team was inspired by real-life events.
Sunday brings two more highly acclaimed films and veterans of the Toronto, Berlin, and Sundance Film Festivals. Dev Benegal’s ROAD, MOVIE embraces two of cinema’s greatest pleasures–the open road and the love of movies for their own glorious sake–as it follows a self-centered young man on an errand across the Indian desert in his uncle’s beat-up old Chevy truck which converts into a cinema paradiso on wheels. Equal parts fantasy and road trip, his magical journey includes picking up a few passengers along the way–a young runaway, a wandering old entertainer, a beautiful woman, and of course, a few corrupt villains.
And the fourth and final film will be the Southeast Premiere of Duane Baughman and Johnny O’Hara’s riveting documentary feature, BHUTTO, which casts an unblinking lens on Benazir Bhutto, the first woman ever elected to lead a Muslim state. This comprehensive and incredibly compelling work is as much a history of modern Pakistan as it is a portrait of the political dynasty that periodically led the Muslim world’s sole nuclear power over two decades.
So mark your calendars for October 2 – 4. Four fascinating films, and of course there will be Indian treats like somosas, chicken tika, mango lassis, and Kingfisher beer. See you there!