NJISACF ’08: Day 2

The snaking lines outside the auditoriums, the huge audience turnout, several congratulations and encouragements from filmmakers and celebrities present, gripping discussions and q/a sessions marked the final day of the festival.

Queue outside the auditorium

Queue outside the auditorium

Screened in the morning were films and documentaries like Missed Call, Long After, Sari (W)rap,Crossing Lines , My Daughter the Terrorist and Dussehra, which completely captivated the audience. Dussehra, a hard-hitting film based on the taboo subject of incest, moved the audience. The young director of Dussehra, Jigyasa Sethi was present to answer audience questions, and was congratulated again and again by the viewers for the courage she displayed in making the film.

Jigyasa Sethi

Jigyasa Sethi

Present too were Jamil Dehlavi, a Pakistani-French filmmaker from UK, along with lead actor Kevin Collins, with their award-winning explosive film Infinite Justice. Jamil Dehlavi and Kevin Collins both talked about how important it is to talk to enemies rather than to friends, so as to look for a solution to the problems that give rise to terrorism and violence.

Kevin Collins and Jamil Dehlavi

Kevin Collins and Jamil Dehlavi

Pancham Unmixed, an extraordinary documentary on the legendary R. D. Burman was a complete sell-out. After the fabulous film was screened, everyone went ga-ga, clapping and wiping their tears simultaneously, remembering Pancham and his music with fondness. The screening followed a lively Q and A session.

Brahmanand Singh talking about Pancham UnmixedAmong the other favorites were Kaal by Bappaditya Bandyopadhyay, A Home in the Sky by Bipin Nandkarni, The Lost Rainbow, and two evocative films about a different Afghanistan – Enemies of Happiness and Khub Asti Afghanistan.

The last screening of the day was Mistaken from Scotland by Sarmed Mirza. The filmmaker was present with this wonderful film, all shot in 9 days. The first ever South Asian film made in Scotland, Mistaken and Sarmed Mirza’s passion, energy and enthusiasm evident during the Q and A session charmed everyone.

Sarmed Mirza

Sarmed Mirza

The NJISACF volunteer team

The NJISACF volunteer team

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NJISACF ’08: Day 1

20 September, day 1of the festival witnessed a record number of viewers for the screening of Kanchivaram (India) by Priyadarshan, Amal (Canada) by Richie Mehta and Kissing Cousins (USA) by Amyn Kaderali.

Throughout the two days, along with an exhilarated audience, the filmmakers also made it a point to watch each other’s films constantly and make the most of the experience.

Brahmanand Singh and Sarmed Mirza in a packed auditorium

Brahmanand Singh and Sarmed Mirza in a packed auditorium

At the start of the first day, while one theater played a bunch of fascinating short films, three young and talented Bangladeshi directors, Shariar Rahman, Zahid Sharif, Sharbari Ahmed were present at the other auditorium. Sharier and Zahid presented their first film Healing Life and Sharbari presented Aimee Undercover. The three filmmakers talked about their experiences and struggles as they tackled the complex subject of immigration and the American dream. At the same time, one couldn’t miss their passion for filmmaking and the determination to keep doing it, no matter what.

A great cinematic experience with a stunning performance by  Prakash Raj , the screening of Kanchivaram was entirely sold out, especially because Prakash Raj himself was present for a question/ answer session with the audience.

Prakash Raj at the screeing of Kanchivaram

Prakash Raj at the screeing of Kanchivaram

In the very interactive q/a session, Prakash Raj talked at length about this dream project of Priyadarshan and his experiences of being a part of what he described as a ‘very human story.”

Q and A session with Prakash Raj

Q and A session with Prakash Raj

Richie Mehta shared his experiences of making Amal and working with legendary actors like Naseeruddin Shah as well as the challenges of shoot on location at New Delhi.

Richie Mehta, as he talks about Amal

Richie Mehta, as he talks about Amal

Amyn Kaderali was present with his excellent debut feature Kissing Cousins, a flawless hip film which was quite a hit among the young crowd. Amyn shared his experiences of completing the film in 3 weeks and how the film evolved into something even better than what he had conceived while he was shooting with the actors.

Q and A session with Amyn Kaderali

Q and A session with Amyn Kaderali

Rosemary Rawcliffe, director of Women in Tibet was present during the screening of the film, to talk about Tibet and her experiences of researching about some of the strongest and most dynamic Tibetan women in exile.

Through these daylong discussions, innumerable hours of watching films and the process of sharing and contributing to a mission to support independent films and filmmakers, as well as the encouragements that we received from the filmmakers and audience alike, NJISACF is confident that this is just the beginning of a movement.

NJISACF ’08: Gala Opening

The second year of the festival kicked off with a Gala Opening Evening dinner and cocktail at the Busch Campus Dining Hall, Rutgers University, Piscataway. The evening witnessed a packed house.

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brahmanand-singh-and-sarmed-mirza

Brahmanand Singh in conversation with Sarmed mirza

Richie Mehta

Richie Mehta

Filmmaker Amyn Kaderali

Filmmaker Amyn Kaderali

Mr Sakti Sengupta, the festival director, introduced the festival as well as the guest filmmakers, and talked about the need for supporting such independent film festivals.

Mr Sakti Sengupta

Mr Sakti Sengupta

As the Chief Guest, the versatile actor Prakash Raj stressed on the importance of the festival, congratulated and encouraged NJISACF to keep doing the great work, and promised to provide support from the Indian film industry for the coming years.

Prakash Raj, as he addresses the audience

Prakash Raj, as he addresses the audience

This was followed by highlights from the NJISACF 2008 showcase with trailers from some films and introduction of the directors of the films to the gala opening guests.
Our sponsors, the Open Road Auto Group, EBC Radio and AVS were honored. Without their generous support the festival would not have been the way it was.

Open Road Auto Group being given the plaque by Prakash Raj

Open Road Auto Group being given the plaque by Prakash Raj

Kulraj Anand of EBC Radio with Prakash Raj

Kulraj Anand of EBC Radio with Prakash Raj

Out-of-the-world music played by  Riyaaz was one of the highlights, and made the evening even more special.

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Sneak Peek 5

  • 13 feature films, 6 docu-features, 14 short films dealing with a broad range of themes like identity, sexuality, politics and religion – films that will entertain and make you think at the same time
  • 13 exclusive US premieres, 11 East Coast premieres, and 10 more for the first time in NJ, films from Cannes, Slamdance, renowned film institutes and regional films
  • Intellectually stimulating discussions and a gathering of most talked-about and promising faces of South Asian cinema and eminent personalities

Kissing Cousins

Narrative Feature/ USA/2007/98min/ English
Director/Screenwriter: Amyn Kaderali
Cast: Samrat Chakrabarti, Rebecca Hazelwood, Gerry Bednob, Jaleel White
NJ Premiere
AAIFF08 Narrative Feature Audience Award

Breathes new life into the tired romantic comedy genre

Amir is a “relationship termination specialist,” providing “dumping services” for disgruntled daters. In other words, he is a heartbreaker. Though Amir claims he is “just the messenger,” the job has made him hard-hearted and as a result, he is the last bachelor in his group of friends. So much so that his best friend no longer wants him to be the Best Man at his wedding because he wants someone with “better relationship karma.” Let down, Amir teams up with his attractive cousin Zara to fool his friends into believing he is capable of a relationship. Over time, Amir starts to soften from Zara’s influence and perhaps even begins to develop…feelings? An undercurrent of sexual tension develops between them as the charade comes dangerously close to going too far.

A veteran of short-form storytelling, director Kaderali infuses Kissing cousins with equal parts candor and comedy to craft a funny, touching portrait of a heart redeemed by love.DesiClub.com

Watch this trailer:

To learn more about the film, visit www.kissingcousinsmovie.com

Kaal (Our Time)

Narrative Feature/India// 2007/ 118min/ Bangla
Director: Bappaditya Bandyopadhyay
US Premiere
Cairo Film Fest 08 Selection

Explores the plight of the contemporary prostitute as a worldly “employer” recruits the rural women into the world’s oldest profession

Our Time (Kaal) tackles the very relevant problem of human trafficking. The film documents the lives of four women – a music student, an illegal immigrant, a sister of a prostitute and a young widow – trapped in this insidious world. Betrayed in love and by their family members, they are forced into new lives in the city where their dreams must change. Things take a dramatic turn when a European woman, herself a victim of trafficking, begins sharing their apartment. Our Time is a fascinating, impassioned, multilayered look at lives torn asunder by the forces of globalization.

The infrastructure of the world’s oldest profession is dramatized and critiqued to compelling effect in the expansive Indian drama “Our Time…. Bappaditya Bandopadhyay’s viewpoint is clear, script avoids moralizing in favor of solid drama Russell Edwards, variety.com

Read an exclusive interview of Bappaditya Bandyopadhyay here.

To learn more about the film, visit http://kaalthefilm.tripod.com

My Daughter the Terrorist

Docu Feature/Norway-Sri Lanka/ 2007/ 58 mins/ Tamil
Director: Beate Arnestad
East Coast Premiere
Best Feature Length Documentary Film Award at the Message to Man International Film Festival

Deeply explores the single-mindedness, desperation, and mindset of cyanide capsule- carrying fighters

An exceedingly rare, inside look at an organization that most of the world has blacklisted as a terrorist group, the film offers important insights into the recently re-ignited conflict in Sri Lanka.
Twenty-four-year-olds Dharsika and Puhalchudar have been living and fighting side-by-side for seven years as part of LTTE’s elite force, the Black Tigers, as suicide bombers. Their story is told through cinema verité footage, newsreel footage, and interviews with the women and Dharsika’s mother.

Takes political documentary filmmaking a step further. – Susan Gerhard, SF360

Provides a rich insight into the women’s ideology, reasoning, and sometimes plain, even charming, naiveté. The strength of the film’s aesthetic is in its adherence to the mental and psychological point of view of these young women. Dorit Naaman, Film Studies, Queens University

Watch the film’s trailer here:

To learn more about the film, visit http://www.snitt.no/mdtt

Official sponsor of NJISACF 08
Watch out for the complete list of films selected to be posted soon on our website, www.njisacf.org.
Online ticketing will be open soon on our website.

Volunteer/ Sponsor for NJISACF 08
To be a part of our enthusiastic gang and contribute to the success of this event, email volunteers@njisacf.org or call 732-310-0236. Watch some of the latest and breathtaking South Asian films for free!
For Advertisements and Sponsorships to reach an audience of more than 2000 South Asians, email sponsors@njisacf.org or call 732-310-0236

NJISACF 08 Sneak PeeK 4

  • 13 spectacular feature films, 6 stimulating and challenging docu-features, 14 stunning short films from US, Canada, India, UK, Ireland, Scotland, Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh
  • Exquisite films by distinguished filmmakers and promising newcomers that will take your breath away
  • World and US premieres, films straight from Cannes and Slamdance, and renowned film institutes
  • All day film screenings, thought-provoking Q & A sessions with filmmakers and celebrities, gala opening night with cocktail and dinner

Grahanam (The Eclipse)

Narrative Feature/India/2007/93min/ Telugu
Writer and Director: Mohan Krishna Indraganti
Based on a story by GV Chalam
Cast: Tanikella Bharani, Jayalalitha
NJ Premiere
Indira Gandhi National Award, Best Debut Director

A classic in black and white exploring the complexities in man-woman relationship

Based on the classic short story Doshagunam (The Disease) by the famous Telugu writer, Chalam, the shoestring budgeted Grahanam has won eleven major awards including the Indian National Award for Best Debut Director.
Beautifully scripted and crafted, Grahanam addresses and explores the consequences of blind belief and faith, and the complex way in which female sexuality is controlled in a patriarchal society.

Full of dramatic irony and poignancy… Ylife, Canada

Mistaken

Narrative Feature/UK/103 min/ English
Director: Shahid Nadeem
US Premiere

The first-ever feature film made by the South Asian diaspora in Scotland

One summer’s evening, the police burst into a Glaswegian Asian household. The son, Ali has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism. Between cops, hacks, mullahs and militants, Ali’s family discovers that all was not well with their son and their world descends into siege and nightmare. Meanwhile, Ali’s sister, Rukhsana refuses to comply with an arranged marriage, and neighbors send bricks through the windows. Yet not everybody is an enemy.

A fast-paced topical and thought-provoking experience…- myivillage.com, Edinburgh

Here is a preview of the film:

Woman in Burka

Narrative Short/USA/ 2008/ 20 min/ English
Writer & Director: Jonathan Lisecki
Cast: Sarita Choudhury, Sam Rockwell, Kerry Washington, Samantha Buck
NJ Premiere
Spirit of Slamdance Award, Arizona Film Festival Merit Award

A lighthearted yet scathing look at racism in Hollywood.

This is a darkly comic look at an actress auditioning for Middle Eastern roles in a post-9/11 culture. Sarita is up for the coveted part of an Iraqi rape victim’s ghost in a new film. No one has seen the script or knows whether it’s a serious drama or a cheap horror movie, but everyone seems to think it’s perfect for her, including her best friend, her manager, and her ex. Will she be the Woman in Burka?

This movie is my anecdote of cultural insensitivity. My life has been full of situations like the ones in this film… – Sarita Chaudhury

The 2008 Slamdance Film Festival narrowed down more than 2,000 short films from around the world to 67 shorts set to compete for a Grand Jury Prize at the event next month. The selection with the highest star wattage is Jonathan Lisecki’s “Woman In Burka” – The Hollywood Reporter

To learn more, visit www.womaninburka.com

Monsoon

Narrative Short/India/ 21 min/ Hindi, English
Director: Shyam Balsé
Best Director and Best Short Film awards at 13 major International Film Festivals.

Beautiful, elegant, touching… insightful story of the intersection of the ancient and the modern.

In this gorgeously shot tale, a young medical doctor returns home to his family in India for a visit at his father’s urgent request. Once there, family history reasserts itself, as the young man finds himself at odds with his father in matters of life and of death.

Monsoon is a beautiful cultural exploration of being torn between two identities, with an accurate depiction of second generation family dilemmas.
– Brian Liu, 2007 Jackson Hole Film Festival Juror

Here is a trailer of the film:

To learn more, visit www.monsoonfilm.com

Preview NJISACF 2008 film line-up on our website, www.njisacf.org
Online ticketing is open now. Visit www.njisacf.org.

Volunteer/ Sponsor for NJISACF 08
To be a part of our enthusiastic gang and contribute to the success of this event, email volunteers@njisacf.org or call 732-310-0236. Watch some of the latest and breathtaking South Asian films for free!

For Advertisements and Sponsorships to reach an audience of more than 2000 South Asians, email sponsors@njisacf.org or call 732-310-0236

NJISACF 08 Venue
Rutgers Busch Campus Center, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey

Asian American Film and Theater Project, PO Box 136, Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, 08852, USA
732.310.0236/ saktis@njisacf.org

NJISACF 08 Sneak Peek 3

  • An assortment of 13 feature films, 6 docu-features, 14 short films dealing with a broad range of themes like identity, sexuality, politics and religion.
  • World, US and East Coast premieres, films straight from Cannes, Slamdance, renowned film institutes and regional films
  • Intellectually stimulating discussions and a gathering of most talk-about and promising faces of South Asian cinema and eminent personalities
  • All day film screenings, thought-provoking Q & A sessions with filmmakers and celebrities, gala opening night with cocktail and dinner

Amal

Canada/2007/Feature Film 101min/ English-Hindi
Writer and Director: Richie Mehta
Cast: Nasiruddin Shah, Roshan Seth, Seema Biswas, Rupinder Nagra, Koel Purie
East Coast Premiere

People’s Choice Award, London Film Festival
Panavision Spirit Award for Best Independent Film, Santa Barbara International Film Festival

A modern day fable – sometimes, the poorest of men are the richest

A festival favorite with heart-warming performances by Naseeruddin Shah and Roshan Seth,
Amal attempts to seek the meaning of success, and how the meaning of success can change from person to person.
Filmed on location in New Delhi, this film, both emotional and poetic at times, will touch your heart and make you see the world in a different perspective.
Richie mehta will be present at our film festival.

Not since Charlie Chaplin’s silent movies has a filmmaker seriously deployed such stereotypes.
– The Hollywood Reporter
Amal is unquestionably a rich cinematic experience. – Boxoffice.com
A mix of Guy de Maupassant, O. Henry, Vittorio De Sica and Hindu legend. – Toronto Life

Watch this trailer from Amal here:

To learn more about the film, visit www.poormansproductions.com/amalfeature

A Home in the Sky

India/2007/104min/Marathi
East Coast Premiere
Director/Producer:Bipin Nadkarni

An 11- year old struggles with his parents’ separation and subsequent remarriage

When 11-year-old Bunty’s parents go separate ways, his world revolves around his mother, Aatyabai (his caretaker), and paintings, flowers and butterflies. He accepts the bitter past of his parents’ and is content meeting his father once a month.

But with time, Bunty’s world changes. Both his parents find new companions and resettle in life. Bunty is unable to accept another man in his mother’s life, or come to terms with another woman in his father’s world.
Which of the two worlds would he choose?

Which world does he belong to?

A beautifully-made film on such a complex subject. I have always liked his style of working. – Shivaji Satam

The World Unseen

UK/South Africa/ 2007/ English
Writer and Director: Shamim Sharif
Cast: Lisa Ray, Sheetal Sheth, Parvin Dabas, Nandana Sen
East Coast Premiere

Best Director, Copper Wing Award, Phoenix Film festival
Best Film, Audience Award, Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

Two Indian women find life-changing friendship in 50s apartheid South Africa
A slice of life, an epic drama

Set in 1950’s South Africa, when apartheid is just beginning, this is a story of two women, one free-spirited and the other a young traditional wife and mother, and their unexpected attraction that changes both women forever.

In a system that divides white from black and women from men, what chance is there for an unexpected love to survive? The World Unseen transports the viewer to a vibrant, colorful and evokes questions that are universal.

A sincere, beautifully realized vision of love and resistance in an intolerant world. – Afterellen.com
A rare combination of intricate character study and engaging narrative – British Film Institute

Subtle and rather beautiful … a touching, likeable human story. -Notcoming.com

Here’s the trailer of The World Unseen:

To learn more, visit www.theworldunseenfilm.com

Watch out for the complete list of films selected will be posted soon on our website www.njisacf.org

Online ticketing will be open soon on our website.

Volunteer/ Sponsor for NJISACF 08
To be a part of our enthusiastic gang and contribute to the success of this event, email volunteers@njisacf.org or call 732-310-0236. Watch some of the latest and breathtaking South Asian films for free!
For Advertisements and Sponsorships to reach an audience of more than 2000 South Asians, email sponsors@njisacf.org or call 732-310-0236

NJISACF 08 Venue
Rutgers Busch Campus Center, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey
Asian American Film and Theater Project, PO Box 136, Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, 08852, USA
732.310.0236/ saktis@njisacf.org