East of Eden

In one key category — revelations per minute — the S.F. International Asian American Film Festival has the edge over Frameline and the S.F. International Film Festival among the Bay Area’s Big Three movie showcases. That’s to be expected, frankly, for the identity-oriented SFIAAFF program is all about demolishing expectations and exploding stereotypes at every turn. Today’s slate serves up one surprise after another, with no less than three world premieres, salutes to forgotten pioneers and spotlights on new ones, and a pull-out-the-stops musical climax. The invaluable documentaries Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority and You Don’t Know Jack: The Jack Soo Story (by local filmmaker and Public Defender Jeff Adachi) revive the reps, respectively, of the first woman of color in Congress and a relentless, underappreciated actor, while The Mosque in Morgantown follows the fallout when a woman journalist challenges the Islamic patriarchy in a West Virginia college town. Changing the world doesn’t have to be all sacrifice and tears; you’d be surprised how far a song and a bad attitude will go. That’s the mantra of H.P. Mendoza, the composer and co-star of the much-loved Colma: The Musical, who makes his directorial debut with Fruit Fly, a tune-filled S.F.-set send-up centering on a queer-friendly Filipina-American performance artist with a bevy of iconoclastic, sharp-tongued roommates. Moviegoers with a soft spot for more sentimental (read: romantic) musicals are already lining up for the Bollywood extravaganza Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. This crowd-pleasing fantasy, starring reigning heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan may be the only film all day that delivers exactly what you’d expect.
March 12-22, 2009

 
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