South Asian film fest picks lineup, jury

N.Y. event to award 9 prizes, including HBO short-film prize

NEW YORK -- Organizers of the fourth South Asian International Film Festival, held in New York from Oct. 22-28, on Monday announced the event's lineup of 50 films, shorts and documentaries along with the jurists who will judge them.

Apart from the already announced opening and closing films -- "Firaaq" and "Ramchand Pakistani," respectively -- the HBO-sponsored festival will screen Christopher Mitchell's "Super 30," Chris Smith's "The Pool" and Amyn Kaderali's comedy "Kissing Cousins," among other films from and about India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Programming director Simon Taufique will head a jury that will determine prizes including best narrative feature, best documentary feature and the winner of the HBO Short Film Competition, which carries an award of $2,500 in cash.

The jury will include Maulik Pancholy ("Weeds"), Waris Ahluwalia ("Inside Man"), Mridu Chandra ("Brother Outsider" the Life of Bayard Rustin") and Aasif Mandvi ("The Daily Show"), among others.

Festival sideline events include panel discussions on independent film sales, production, post-production and screenwriting.

The festival will open at the Ziegfield Theater in Manhattan with "Firaaq" by Indian actress-director Nandita Das. Das will be on hand for a Q&A after the screening of her film, which is set during 24 hours of the Hindu-Muslim riots in western India's Gujarat state in 2002. Starring actors Naseeruddin Shah and Paresh Rawal and actress Tisca Chopra, "Firaaq" premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and screened at Telluride.

The festival will close with Pakistani director Mehreen Jabbar's "Ramchand Pakistani," starring Das as a low-caste Hindu in Pakistan whose young son and husband are captured by Indian security agencies near the border. Mumbai-based Percept Pictures will release "Ramchand" in India on Oct. 2. Percept also produced "Firaaq."