The 2011 Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF) kicks off tonight. This year, the fest features a special program titled Spotlight South Asia which highlights films from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and, of course, India.
The program begins on Friday night, October 7, with a gala presentation of Mausam. Director Pankaj Kapur will be in attendance, and the ticket price includes admission to an after-party following the movie. (I speak from experience that movie goers will likely need a drink after sitting through Mausam.)
Perhaps the real highlight of the event is the world premiere of Kshay (“Corrode”) the following night. This independent Hindi film follows a woman’s obsession with a statue of the goddess Lakshmi.
Members of Kshay‘s cast and crew will be on hand for all three of the film’s festival screenings, including director Karan Gour, a nominee in the New Directors competition. Gour will also participate in a free panel discussion on Monday titled “Beyond Bollywood,” highlighting India’s emerging independent film market.
If you plan on attending Saturday night’s premiere, arrive at least fifteen minutes early to enjoy a live performance of portions of the film’s score by a sextet of Chicago musicians.
Another festival entrant from India, Patang, has an interesting Chicago connection. Director Prashant Bhargava was born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, but chose to film his first feature entirely in Ahmedabad. Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert wrote a blog post about the movie and his decades-long friendship with Bhargava’s father, Vijay.
The other feature-length movies from India showing at CIFF are Azhagarsamy’s Horse (Tamil), Dekh Indian Circus (Hindi), Gandu (Bengali) and Inshallah, Football (Urdu and Kashmiri). Click here for a full list of movies featured in the Spotlight South Asia program.