Craving your chance to be a cinema locavore? Today and tomorrow, films with South Asian themes and Tar Heel connections will screen in downtown Durham. The NCISAIFF will provide a rare chance to view independently produced features and shorts, reaching beyond the more familiar genres of Indian movies. The festival leads off with 9 Eleven, a thriller starring North Carolina actress Jyoti Singh. Other fiction features include Life Camera Action, a semi-autobiographical coming of age film about the struggles of an Indian-American aspiring filmmaker, and Meherjaan, a Bangladeshi film starring Bollywood star Jaya Bahaduri and Victor Banerjee.
Feature-length documentaries include Journey in My Mother's Footsteps, in which a daughter examines her mother's choice to desert her own family to help the destitute in Kolkota with Mother Teresa, and Play Like a Lion, which profiles sarod player Ali Akbar Khan, who brought Indian classical music to the U.S. in 1955. A Little Revolution travels to rural villages in the Punjab, where there has been an epidemic of farmer suicides. Proceeds from the NCISAIFF will raise funds for a charitable organization helping these destitute farm families.
Founded by writer and producer Gauri Singh to spotlight local talents with a global outlook, the festival has programmed a unique slate of award-winning films. Saturday night includes a dinner at Sitar India restaurant and celebrities Abhimanyu Singh, a prolific producer of Indian TV shows, and Chandrachur Singh, who has a supporting role in Mira Nair's next film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. All films are either in English or have English subtitles. Tickets may be bought at the door or online at ncisaff.webstarts.com. —Laura Boyes