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Festival showcases diverse Indian films

By Jennifer Ding     10/6/11 7:00pm

Rice Cinema screened Mira Nair's Throne of Death on Wednesday night as a prelude to the upcoming Festival of Contemporary Films from India.

The actual festival will be hosted by the Chao Center for Asian Studies from Nov. 4-6 and features three different Indian languages with English subtitles. While all films are from India, they are not specifically about the country, festival organizer and post-doctorate Ratheesh Radhakrishnan said.

"The point is not to show India, but to show cinema," he said. "These films highlight the talent and range of Indian directors beyond well-known Bollywood and Arthouse cinema productions, and India is just the context."

Graduate student Samhita Sunya said that the directors were exploring filmmaking itself without a genre of set expectations.

Two of the directors Moinak Biswas and Shalini Usha Nair are attending the screenings of their own films and will be available for question and answer sessions afterwards. Biswas is the keynote speaker for the festival and will stay at Rice for a month as a scholar in residence.

The seven films come from diverse genres and time periods. Radhakrishnan and Sunya describe them as an urban tale, dark comedy, folk tale, psychological drama, a child's film with a twist, and lastly, a combination of rap music video, pornography, and independent film.

This final description refers to director Q's film Asshole, a movie about expressing the angst of youth through rap. Asshole will not be released in India due to the level of profanity and sexual content it contains.

Within, by director Shalini Usha Nair, is another film that will be featured. It is about a man who starts to believe that his wife is a yakshi, a mythical female who seduces men, drinks their blood, and leaves nothing but their nails and hair.

All of the films will be screened at the Rice Cinema, which is located in the Rice Media Center.

"The festival will help "supplement the widespread knowledge of Bollywood," Sunya said. "These films show the many other possibilites that exist."

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