Now Playing! South Asian Film Festival Destroys Stereotypes

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Still from 'Masaan.' (Courtesy of Pathé International and The Festival Agency)

Neeraj Ghywan’s first feature, Masaan (Fly Away Solo), won the critic’s prize upon its debut at Cannes in 2015. Not a bad way to launch a career, and a provocative choice to open 3rd i’s annual San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival.

The film braids tonally different stories of two young couples -- one centering around an amorous hotel rendezvous that goes very bad and the other portraying a hopeful cross-caste romance -- to depict the imposing constraints of tradition and custom on individual freedom amid India’s strides toward modernity and embrace of technology.

Still from 'Parched.'
Still from 'Parched.' (Courtesy of Wolfe Releasing)

The SFISAFF, screening Nov. 10-13 at New People Cinema and the Castro Theater in San Francisco and Nov. 19 at Bluelight Cinema in Cupertino, revels in presenting characters and images to Bay Area moviegoers that destroy stereotypes.

Berkeley director John Turner and Mill Valley producer Eric Christensen collaborated on Korla, a documentary portrait of a singular musical enigma who captivated West Coast audiences on television and in clubs. Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh dramatizes the inspiring true story of a gay Indian linguistics professor whose job and career were threatened in 2010, and who found a slew of unexpected allies. Yet another film with a pithy one-word title, the vibrant Centerpiece selection, Parched, introduces three independent Indian women transcending the respective headaches of an alcoholic husband, loathsome son and judgmental neighbors.

India and its neighbors are on the move, propelled by youth and new ideas. Tap into the energy at 3rd i’s most colorful sampler.