Culture / Entertainment

Much More Than Bollywood — UH President Featured Guest in Film Festival that Shows Indian Cinema’s True Power

BY // 10.01.18

I clearly recall  the first time I saw a Satyajit Ray film, and Pather Panchali has stuck with me throughout the decades since. It was my introduction to a country’s rich cinema, a sprawling, complex, multifarious corpus of work that is as diverse as the lands and people that create it.

Images of bodies floating along a river, of birds floating upward toward blue sky, of hungry children and lonely housewives and dogs and cows and snakes and kites and colorful foods: Those images, and myriad others, teem in Indian cinema, which is so much more than typical Bollywood fare.

Now, on the heels of the Jaipur Literature Festival, which took place in Houston earlier this month, the Indian Film Festival of Houston is bringing a slate of great works to the Asia Society Texas Center for three days (this Thursday through Saturday, October 4 to 6), an event for cinephiles everywhere, and anyone curious about the giant country’s artistry. (I attended last’s year’s version of the festival, and was moved to tears, smiles and laughter.)

The festivities begin on Thursday at 4 pm, with a cocktail reception, followed by a 5:15 screening of Once Again, a film from Kanwal Sethi about missed connections, love, chance, and redemption. An actor and a restaurant owner are linked via a phone call, then decide to meet in person, romance surely to follow.

Later that evening (7:20), catch Sound Proof, a short (30 minutes) about a young woman whose new apartment in Mumbai puts her in the middle of intrigue, surprise and the parade of human folly, followed by a 7:50 screening of Shalom Bollywood: The Untold Story of Indian Cinema. The documentary is a fascinating look at the way the Indian Jewish community was instrumental to the country’s film industry. It’s directed by Danny Ben-Moshe, and I recommend it with no reservations.

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Friday begins with cocktails and entertainment, again at 4 pm, followed by another lineup of stellar movies, including Shame, a short from Anusha Bose; The Music Teacher, directed by Sarthak Dasgupta, and a documentary, Purdah.

Once the films are screened, Saturday’s awards night and gala (this is the 10th anniversary of the festival, and Sutapa Ghosh, its founder and executive director, always puts on a great show) provides the opportunity for supporters to pay it forward. The guest of honor for the evening is Dr. Renu Khator, chancellor of the UH System and president of University of Houston. Tickets start at $250, and $10,000 gets you a VIP table for you and nine lucky guests.

For a complete look at the films and a schedule of events, click here.

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