“We live in a box of space and time. Movies are windows in its walls. They allow us to enter other minds, not simply in the sense of identifying with the characters, although that is an important part of it, but by seeing the world as another person sees it.”-Roger Ebert
Tonight kicks off the second annual Dallas Fort Worth South Asian Film Festival and there is an impressive line-up of films. The festival opens today at the Perot Museum with a screening of Miss India America directed by Ravi Kapoor and starring Tiya Sircar (read a past interview with Pink Rickshaw here) and Hannah Simone (Hey, Cece from New Girl!). The 2014 film which has been getting some buzz at Asian film festivals in the U.S. is a coming-of-age comedy about an academically over-achieving high school student, Lily (played by Sircar). She enters the Miss India Golden State pageant in hopes of wooing back her ex-boyfriend who has left Lily for a reigning beauty queen. If you have ever heard about or experienced an Indian pageant in the U.S., you can see why it would make an interesting backdrop for a film. The Hollywood Reporter's review praised the film saying the "screenplay quickly establishes an authentic tone that pays respect to Indian cultural norms, while poking gentle fun at the often-divergent interpretations that these traditions receive in overseas communities. Kapoor’s television directing experience translates smoothly between formats as he competently navigates Lily into increasingly conflicted situations, while maintaining a comically light touch throughout."
Other films in the festival that caught my eye are the Bollywood film Aligarh (which closes the festival on Sunday) starring Manoj Bajpai and Rajkummar Rao in a biographical drama about a professor who was suspended from his job because of his sexual orientation. Umrika is a 2015 Indian dramedy starring Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi) and Prateik Babbar (Dhobi Ghaat, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na) where Babbar's character sets off for the United States to find a better life but things are not exactly as they appear. The festival is also rounded out with a number of short films (my favorites) and documentaries including the art documentary, Blue Like Me, featuring the work of artist Siona Benjamin. Benjamin is a Jewish women raised in India and her paintings span themes of feminism, race and identity.
The DFW SAFF runs this weekend from February 19-21 at the Perot Museum (opening night) and Angelika Film Center in Plano. Festival passes and individual tickets can be purchased on the festival website or at the box office.
Update: Looks like all the films are sold out but there may be tickets for purchase at the box office for the Saturday and Sunday shows.
image source: DFW SAFF