A Passage to India and Beyond

Even the most intrepid movie hounds have been known to throw up their hands in frustration at the sprawling programs of the larger local festivals. But it’s a snap picking out the good stuff in 3rd i’s smashing S.F. International South Asian Film Festival -- the tightly scheduled weekend bash simply has no room for filler. The barn-burning Bollywood opus Om Shanti Om (7:30 p.m.) and the Pakistani zombie picture Hell’s Ground (11 p.m.) are obvious crowd-pleasers, along with the high-octane closing night pick, Danny Boyle’s Mumbai-set rags-to-riches, realism-to-romance fable Slumdog Millionaire (Nov. 16). Rewards of a more delicate nature are provided by the dreamlike Bioscope (also Nov. 16), which evokes the magic and mysterious power of cinema through its tale of an Indian village’s first exposure to motion pictures in the 1920s. Documentary maker Nishtha Jain confronts a different cinematic power, the kind that comes with pointing the camera, in Lakshmi and Me (1:45 p.m.), an intimate and profound portrait of her maid. It’s amazing how much you can see with a third i.

The festival continues Nov. 15-16 at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro (at Market), S.F.
Nov. 13-16, 2008

 
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