Nepali Times
Movie masala

It is documentary season once again as Film South Asia (FSA) returns for the sixth time. With 45 films from all over South Asia vying for the coveted Ram Bahadur Trophy, FSA 2007 promises to be a visual treat. As always, India, with its tradition of documentary filmmaking, leads the race with the largest number of entries, but this year Nepal showcases four films and there are even entries from Afghanistan and Bhutan.

Out of nearly 300 films, there are 48 (45 competitive, 3 non-competitive) on cultural, social and political issues, natural disasters and their aftermath, and reconciliation - all themes very familiar to South Asians. There are also films on South Asian subjects from countries outside the subcontinent. As always, many filmmakers will be present at the showing of their respective films and will be available to discuss their work.

A three-member jury, led by Saeed Mirza, will judge the films. The Ram Bahadur trophy, awarded for best film, carries a cash award of $2,000. A Best Debut award is also available, along with $1,000, to encourage filmmakers to try their hand at documentary making.

This year, the festival opens with Living Goddess, a celebrated film on the lives of the Kumaris. The film's director will be present, along with a special guest, the Bhaktapur Kumari.

A one-day music video festival will follow the four-day FSA, charting the evolution of music videos throughout the region.

Film South Asia is a biennial, contemporary documentary film festival that showcases the best in documentary filmmaking from around the region. It is the only event dedicated to showing quality non-fiction films in South Asia. Since its inception in 1997, FSA has been showing documentaries every two years. Continuous Journey, directed by Ali Kazami, was voted Best Film at FSA 2005.
FSA is organised by the Himal Association and will take place on 11-14 October at Kumari Cinema in Kamalpokhari. Tickets are priced at Rs 30.

Living Goddess
Worshipped as living deities, the Kumaris are hold-overs from an ancient culture. Living Goddess unfolds through the eyes of three young girls - goddesses and witnesses to the unfolding of an ancient prophecy. An out-of-touch king who survived the notorious palace massacre of 2001 wrests power for himself as a Maoist-led civil war rages. Defying the king, ordinary people take to the streets demanding freedom, only to be confronted by the might of the king's army. As the Kumaris watch, their world changes irrevocably as their lives collide with the ushering in of a modern era.

Bostrobalikara (Garment Girls of Bangladesh)
This captivating documentary focuses on the garment girls of Bangladesh's notorious sweatshops. The camera tracks the lives of these girls, the hardships they have to endure, the meagre salaries they earn and the indifference of those who employ them. Filmmaker Tanvir Mokammel follows these girls from the factories and sweatshops into their personal lives, which makes for an entrancing film.

Casting Shadows
Set in the heart of the B-grade movie industry in India's heartland of Mumbai, this light-hearted documentary takes a look at the unusual lives of two look-alikes. With contrasting ages, ideals and personalities, these two men have nothing in common save the alias they share, that of the greatest star in Indian cinema history, Amitabh Bachchan.

Every Good Marriage Begins with Tears
British filmmaker Simon Chambers comes through with a charming documentary on the lives of two rebellious London Bangladeshi sisters who go back home against their will for arranged marriages. The film explores the universal theme of love, but also touches on issues of conflict between migrants and their children, dispels cliched myths about the treatment of women in Islamic society, and presents the tender, human face of a community that is often misunderstood and targeted as a result of terrorist attacks on the West.

American filmmaker Grady Walker chronicles the lives of Bhutanese refugees languishing in camps in Nepal. Eviction focuses on different perspectives and stories from camps in Jhapa, and also follows a refugee seeking asylum in New York City.

Seven Islands and a Metro
This film is a tale of cities: Bom Bahia, Bombay, Mumbai - the multilingual Bombay, the Bombay of intolerance, the Bombay of closed mills, of popular culture, sprawling slums and real estate onslaughts, the metropolis of numerous ghettos, the EI Dorado, and Mumbai, city of dreams. The documentary follows the journey of an insignificant settlement to the coveted status of a metropolis.

Chaama deu; tara nabirsa (Forgive! Forget not!)
A former detainee of the infamous Bhairabnath Battalion tells of his horrifying experiences during the 15 months he was held without any proof of his guilt. The journalist detainee goes through the painful detail of an experience that not many others survived.

Mast Qalandar (The Ecstatic)
One of the most legendary mystics of ancient Islam, Mast Qalandar was a 13th century Sufi saint who spread his teachings of love, tolerance and ecstasy. Every year, almost a million devotees from all over Pakistan, India and Afghanistan journey to Sehwan Sharif, the site of Mast Qalandar's shrine, and seek individual and collective ecstasy. The film follows the pilgrimage and explores the ancient mystic Islamic way of life.

Hami Kunako Manche (We Corner People)
Kesang Tseten's monumentally successful Hami Kunako Manche follows the lives of the 'corner' people, those residing in the farthest reaches of Rasuwa district. Here there is no electricity and not a single shop. The only school goes up to grade 3, and villagers have to walk four hours just to buy salt or chilli, or to sell their meagre bamboo weavings, their only means of subsistence. The film documents what happens when a bridge comes to this place, radically changing the lives of the inhabitants.

Jashn-E-Azadi (How We Celebrate Freedom)
Every year on 15 August, the Indian flag goes up in the heart of Srinagar, Kashmir, staking India's claim to the land. But the empty streets and sullen silence that greet this action spark off old questions about freedom. The war over Kashmir has left 60,000 dead and 7,000 missing. Using a beguiling mix of rare archival material, poetry and text, this film is a proactive look at Indian democracy in the 60th year of India's independence, and a reflection on power, resistance and the terrible cost of freedom.

A Very British Bollywood
When the British government created tax breaks for foreign filmmakers to produce feature films in the UK, they were expecting Hollywood. Instead, they got Bollywood. Having landed on British soil, Indian filmmakers are breaking with Bollywood traditions and moving into different genres. Out with the musical and in with story lines aimed at a western audience. A Very British Bollywood follows the making of these films, principally Private Moments, an erotic comedy that revolves around the sex lives of four young women in London.


11 October

4.30 PM Every Good Marriage
Begins with Tears (75')
UK/Bangladesh, 2006, dir - Simon Chambers
Sassy Londoners sent to Dhaka for arranged marriage

6.15 PM Eviction (11')
Bhutan, 2006, dir - Grady Walker
Lhotshampa refugees in legal limbo
6 Yards to Democracy (55')
India, 2006, dir - Nishtha Jain & Smriti Nevatia
Election promise of free saris leads to stampede

12 October

10AM Shame (90\')
Pakistan, 2006, dir - Mohammed Naqvi
Courageous Mukhtaran Mai tells the world her story of rape

12PM Rabba Hun Kee Kariye (65\')
India, 2007, dir - Ajay Bhardwaj
The scars of Partition in Indian Punjab

1.45 PM No More Tears Sister (78')
Sri Lanka, 2005, dir - Helene Klodawsky
A human-rights activist murdered in Jaffna

3.45 PM Between the Lines (95')
India, 2005, dir - Thomas Wartmann
A dramatic look at hijras in Mumbai

5.45 PM Hami Kunako Maanche
(We Corner People) (50')
Nepal, 2006, dir - Kesang Tseten
Story of a bridge in Rasuwa District

13 October

10AM Motherland Afghanistan (74')
Afghanistan, 2006, dir - Sedika Mojadidi
An Afghan father's return home

11.45 AM Moustaches Unlimited (27')
India, 2006, dir - Vasudha Joshi
Wacky look at what moustaches mean to men and women
Mast Qalandar (The Ecstatic) (30')
Pakistan, 2005, dir - Till Passow
Sufi saint who preached love, tolerenace and ecstasy

1.30 PM Words in Stone (22')
India, 2005, dir - Akhila Krishnan
Remembering Urdu poet Wali Gujarati
Ayodhya Gatha (60')
India, 2007, dir - Vani Subramanian
Life in Ayodhya post-Babri Masjid

3.30 PM Chaama Deu! Tara Nabirsa! (Forgive! Forget not! ) (50')
Nepal, 2007, dir - Pranay Limbu
A journalist's survival in a Nepali barrack

5PM Sikhi (The Fire) (40')
India, 2006, dir - Ramachandran K
The oldest surviving forms of theatre
Chhou Dance of Purulia (39')
India, 2006, dir - Dhananjoy Mandal
Past and present of a Bengali dance

14 October

10AM One Way (14')
India, 2007, dir - Ayisha Abraham
Life of a Nepali chowkidar in Bangalore
Bahurupia (Multiple Roles) (25')
India, 2007, dir - Rappai Poothokaren
India's dying art of itinerant drama

11.15 AM Bare (11\')
India, 2006, dir - Santana Issar
Re-defining relationship with alcoholic father
A Human Question (53\')
India, 2006, dir - T. Jayashree
Global struggle for more affordable HIV/AIDS drugs

1PM Living Goddess (96\')
Nepal, 2006/07, dir - Ishbel Whitaker
Lives of Kumaris during the People's Movement of April 2006

3.15 PM Inside the Kalari (20\')
India, 2007, dir - Ian McDonald
Kerala's fast-paced martial art
Mayana Kurippugal (Notes from the Crematorium) (25\')
India, 2005, dir - Amudhan R.P
An uplifting look at the Dalit undertakers of Madurai

4.30 PM Nar Narman (22\')
Pakistan/USA, 2007, dir - Mazhar Zaidi
Life and love of Ifti Naseem, Urdu's first openly gay poet
Where's Sandra (18\')
India, 2005, dir - Paromita Vohra
Where and who is Sandra from Bandra?


11 October

4PM Khayal Darpan (A Mirror of Imagination) (105\')
India/Pakistan, 2006, dir - Yousuf Saeed
Hindustani classical music in post-Partition Pakistan

6.15 PM Tales from the Margins (23\')
India, 2006, dir - Kavita Joshi
Manipur's women use their own bodies to protest state violence
The Miseducation of Pakistan (30\')
Pakistan, 2005, dir - Syed Ali Nasir
Primary schools in Pakistan: an indictment of state and society alike

12 October

9.30 AM Hope Dies Last in War (80')
India, 2007, dir - Supriyo Sen
Continuing search for Indian POWs of the 1971 War

11.15 AM From Dust (60')
Sri Lanka, 2005, dir - Dhruv Dhawan
Post-Tsunami expos? of state corruption

12.45 PM Eisenfresser (Ironeaters) (85')
Bangladesh, 2007, dir - Shaheen
Famine forces farmers to seek work as ship-breakers

2.45 PM A Very British Bollywood (60\')
UK, 2005, dir - Anthony Wonke
Indian film crew arrives in UK to make an erotic comedy (PG)

4.15 PM A Life with Slate (59')
Nepal, 2006, dir - Dipesh Kharel
Poetic dimensions of slate-mining in a Nepali village

5.45 PM Jashn-E-Azadi
(How we Celebrate Freedom) (139\')
India, 2007, dir - Sanjay Kak
Kashmiris grapple with the hope of azadi

13 October

10.15 AM Ordinary Lives (38')
India, 2005, dir - Sheetal S. Agarwal
The challenges of making Mumbai a modern metropolis
Outsourced (49')
India/Australia, 2006, dir - Anna Cater & Safina Uberoi
Four women at an Indian call centre

12.15 PM In Search of a Road (82')
Sri Lanka, 2006, dir - Dharmasena Pathiraja
Tracking Sri Lanka's northern railway and A-9 highway

2.15 PM The Last Dance (11\')
India, 2006, dir - Ashima Narain
Endangered sloth bears forced to dance
Bhangon (Erosion) (60')
India, 2006, dir - Sourav Sarangi
River erosion in West Bengal

4PM Bostrobalikara: Garment Girls of Bangladesh (60\')
Bangladesh, 2007, dir-Tanvir Mokammel
Women workers of Bangladesh's ruthless garment industry

5.30 PM Seven Islands and a Metro (100\')
India, 2006, dir - Madhusree Dutta
Mumbai - from a hamlet to a metro

14 October

9.30 AM Goubolomb (Our Island) (29')
India, 2007, dir - Kaushik G. Ray
Andaman-Nicobar hunter-gatherers feel the threat of modernity
Village of Dust, City of Water (28')
India, 2006, dir - Sanjay Barnela
Poetry and music help to understand thirst in India's villages

11AM Remembrance of Things Present (81\')
India, 2007, dir - Chandra Siddan
How is a teen supposed to deal with an arranged marriage?

1PM Prakash Traveling Cinema (14\')
India, 2006, dir - Megha B. Lakhani
Cart-mounted bioscope harks back to pre-multiplex days
Writings on the Wall (24\')
India, 2007, dir - Angad Bhalla & Siddhartha Luther
India's vibrant film-poster art scene
Casting Shadows (25\')
India, 2007, dir - Nayantara Kotian
The life of two professional look-alikes

2.45 PM The Sky Below (75')
India/Pakistan, 2006/07, dir - Sara Singh
The India-Pakistan frontier six decades after Partition

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)