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12:30 PM on 11.23.2014

SAIFF Review: Killa (The Fort)

I never moved when I was growing up. I knew people who moved once or twice, and then I knew others in military families and the like who would come and go almost annually. In a small town with a small school, that made a diff...

Alec Kubas-Meyer


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SAIFF Review: Dukhtar photo
SAIFF Review: Dukhtar
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Most of the modern foreign films that I watch are from countries that are reasonably similar to the United States. People live in apartments and drive sleek cars. They use smartphones and credit cards. They have the internet. And so even if I'm confused by a particular custom or some broader cultural experience, I can always fall back on the knowledge that their environments are not too different from mine.

Which makes it all the more shocking to see a film like Dukhtar, Pakistan's official Oscar entry for the year. Though it takes place in modern times, the environment is unlike anything I've ever experienced. It's something truly foreign.

It's also quite good.

[This film is screening as part of the 2014 South Asian International Film Festival. More information can be found here or at the official SAIFF website.]

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4:00 PM on 11.14.2014

Here comes the South Asian International Film Festival

As is often the case, it's a festival of festivals here in New York. And if you're particularly fond of Indian and/or Pakistani films, this is probably the one you've been waiting for. The South Asian International Film Festi...

Alec Kubas-Meyer

9:00 AM on 12.02.2013

Here is the 2013 South Asian International Film Festival

Film festivals, man. There are so many of them. Especially in the wonderful world of New York City. Case in point: the 2013 South Asian International Film Festival, which begins tomorrow, December 3rd, and runs through Sunday...

Alec Kubas-Meyer

11:00 AM on 11.14.2012

SAIFF Closing Night scheduled, proceeds to help Red Cross

Due to Hurricane Sandy, the final few days of the South Asian International Film Festival were put on hold. Now the final screening has been rescheduled, and there's something really cool accompanying it. Fitting with the env...

Alec Kubas-Meyer



Reel Asian Review: Valley of Saints photo
Reel Asian Review: Valley of Saints
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Full disclosure: Valley of Saints is the first India-made movie I have ever seen. I am almost entirely ignorant of broader Indian customs, and I certainly don’t know anything about region-specific cultures. It’s completely foreign to me.

So I went into Valley of Saints with apprehension, because I had literally no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn't know if it would resonate with an ignorant American like me. And now that I've seen it, I'm still not entirely sure. But I'm conflicted about that idea, because I don't know if my lack of understanding is affecting my enjoyment of the film, or if it's just a film that's not particularly great.

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8:00 AM on 10.29.2012

SAIFF on hiatus for the next two days thanks to Sandy

Since we've been bringing you all kinds of awesome reviews from the South Asian International Film Festival, we figure it's only fair to let you know that, like everything else in New York City, it is taking a break for the n...

Alec Kubas-Meyer



SAIFF Review: The Great Indian Marriage Bazaar photo
SAIFF Review: The Great Indian Marriage Bazaar
by Hubert Vigilla

[For the next week and half, we will be covering the 2012 South Asian International Film Festival, the biggest film premiere destination for South Asian and Indian films in the United States. Check back with Flixist for reviews of the SAIFF slate. You can read all of our SAIFF coverage here.]

A friend of mine who's just a few years older had warned me about something ages ago: "You know, Hubert, one of these days you'll have a year where you'll just keep going to weddings." That was 2009 -- five weddings. It hasn't really let up since. This year, my younger brother got married. Same goes for two friends of mine. And I have an old roommate's wedding to look forward to next month.

That older friend also warned me that after each wedding I go to, my folks would ask when I'm getting hitched, and that it would get real old real fast. It's happened without fail. My parents now ask me that question without humor or goodwill. Any light in their voice from a few years ago has dimmed considerably, and they sound a little more desperate each time. This is probably because they were around my age when they had me.

That pressure for marriage is more pronounced in The Great Indian Marriage Bazaar, an hour-long documentary on weddings in India.

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SAIFF Review: Paanch Adhyay (Afterglow) photo
SAIFF Review: Paanch Adhyay (Afterglow)
by Hubert Vigilla

[For the next week and half, we will be covering the 2012 South Asian International Film Festival, the biggest film premiere destination for South Asian and Indian films in the United States. Check back with Flixist for reviews of the SAIFF slate. You can read all of our SAIFF coverage here.]

I think I'm getting softer as I get older because I'm starting to appreciate melodramas. Not all of them, just the ones that are well-made. The better melodramas maybe have just a tinge of irony to them, but that wink to the audience isn't so blatant. These better melodramas also try to hit something more substantial than mere sensations of love and loss. Sure, they can be cliched and they might be contrived, but a good melodrama is about the way common experiences can get bent up and stretched to enhance the rhythm and oomph of an emotional chord.

To use another analogy (just as nonsensical), melodramas might be a bit like Silly Putty -- you copy an image from real life and then stretch it out. When the stretching works, the image is retained and enlarged with the proportions mostly intact. The synthetic membrane, which is not torn or broken, allows a kind of light to show through the image. I think Paanch Adhyay (Afterglow) doesn't tear even when it gets sentimental or soap opera-y, because the film understands what it is and what it's doing.

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SAIFF Review: Akam (Palas in Bloom) photo
SAIFF Review: Akam (Palas in Bloom)
by Hubert Vigilla

[For the next week and half, we will be covering the 2012 South Asian International Film Festival, the biggest film premiere destination for South Asian and Indian films in the United States. Check back with Flixist for reviews of the SAIFF slate. You can read all of our SAIFF coverage here.]

If I'm remembering right, the phrase "the ambiguities" is antiquated slang for psychosis. It makes sense. One's unable to differentiate between the real and the imaginary, so there's kind of loose play between reality and bizarre fantasies.

Ambiguity is key in Akam (Palas in Bloom). There's a slippage in the mind communicated in the film's introductory shot. We're looking through the eyes of Srinivas (Fahadh Faasil). We're on a beach and retracing footsteps in the sand. The prints are stepped into carefully at first, but then Srinivas's feet miss the mold of the existing prints. Memory, time, and reality are off in Akam, and it took me a while to get my bearings. In some ways, the film captures the point of view of a fractured mind processing the world, or perhaps the mind under the influence of some mythic, vampiric temptress.

I'm still not sure if that's a good thing.

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SAIFF Review: Blood Relative photo
SAIFF Review: Blood Relative
by Hubert Vigilla

[For the next week and half, we will be covering the 2012 South Asian International Film Festival, the biggest film premiere destination for South Asian and Indian films in the United States. Check back with Flixist for reviews of the SAIFF slate. You can read all of our SAIFF coverage here.]

Divya and Imran are two of the primary subjects in the documentary Blood Relative. If you just look at them, you'd assume they were a normal 8-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy living in Mumbai. But Divya is 15 and Imran is 24. Their stunted growth is the result of a deadly genetic disorder called thalassemia, a condition that affects normal blood production.

For treatment, regular blood transfusions are required, but this can lead to excessive iron in a patient's system, which is fatal. The iron overload needs to be treated through the use of iron chelation drugs. Most people with thalassemia won't live past 25, and undergoing blood transfusions and iron chelation therapy can be extremely expensive.

That's where Vinay Shetty comes in, the third subject of Blood Relative. By looking closely at these people, director Nimisha Mukerji crafts a moving glimpse at the larger personal, social, humanitarian, and political dimensions of this health problem.

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2:00 PM on 10.17.2012

The South Asian International Film Festival is upon us

We do a lot of things here on Flixist, and some of those things are pretty cool. The rest? Totally awesome. One of the many totally awesome things we do is cover film festivals. Lots and lots of film festivals. Right now, for...

Alec Kubas-Meyer