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The Goa South Asian Film Festival,

Films bring in the diverse hues of South Asia to Goa From Frederick Noronha in India

Spread over four days, the South Asian Film Festival, being held in the coastal holiday resort of Goa, brings in diverse moving images to three screening halls in Panaji, the Goan capital that is also host to India's international film fest IFFI towards Nov-Dec each year.

After its launch on Friday (June 27), the first film to be screened here has been 'Osama' from Afghanistan.

This 2003-award winning film is about a 12-year-old Afghan girl and her mother who lose their jobs when the Taliban closes the hospital where they work. The Taliban have also forbidden women to leave their houses without a male "legal companion." With her husband and brother dead, killed in battle, there is no one left to support the family.

The mother disguises her daughter as a boy, called 'Osama', and embarks on a terrifying and confusing journey as she fights to avoid the Taliban from realising the truth. Inspired by a true story, this was the first entirely Afghan-shot film since the fall of the Taliban.

Director Siddiq Barmak has said, in an earlier interview: "Afghanistan was forgotten by different people, different audiences, different countries. I really wanted to make this movie to remind people about Afghanistan."

'Golden Cup: The Legacy' directed by Tshering Penjore, is a musical fantasy written by Tshering Penjore, a former personal bodyguard of King Namgyal, or King Jigme. Its narrative includes song-and-dance sequences inspired by Bollywood musicals.

Short-film Gulchaihrah by Sayed Wahidullah Qathalie raises issues of women's rights in the context of forced marriages.

Documentaries included in the festival include Pakistan's Double Game and Iraq-The Lost Generation (Pakistan, both by Sharmeen Obaid), Lanka-The Other Side of War and Peace (by Iffat Fatima of India), and A Journey Through Afghanistan (Pakistan, Sharmeen Obaid).

"Pakistan's Double Game" sees reporter Sharmeen Obaid travelling around her country to ask ordinary citizens what they think of their government's alliance with the United States and backing for its "war on terrorism."

In Lanka-The Other side... , Kashmiri filmmaker and cultural researcher Iffat Fatima travels the A9 highway, collecting the stories and testimonies of people whose lives have been, for decades, disrupted by violence. Various narrators have multiple perspectives in this May 2005 film, screened widely in Sri Lanka.

Other films in this festival include Shomapti (Bangladesh, Tanveer Hossain), Reinventing The Taliban (Pakistan, Sharmeen Obaid), August Sun/Ira Madiyama (Sri Lanka, Prassanna Vithange). From Bangladesh comes Zakhir Hossain's Auction. Stoning from Afghanistan is by Latif Ahmadi, while Tanveer Hossain's Ami Shadhinota Eneichi is from Bangladesh.

Mumbai-based director Madhur Bhandarkar, who began life with a video cassette library in Khar, has two of his films in this festival -- Chandni Bar and Traffic Signal and Corporate. He is known for his socially relevant films, including 'Page 3' on glamour and newspapers and a self-centered elite, as also for a 'casting couch' controversy.

Indian films at the festival also include Kunal Deshmukh's Janaat, Apaharan by Prakash Jha ('Kidnapping' in Hindi, starring Ajay Devgan and Nana Patekar), Mare Paryant Fashi by Panaji Doordarshan station director Chandrakant Barve, and Heena by director 1947-born Bollywood actor, producer and director Randhir 'Daboo' Kapoor.

Aparahan is the story of a complex relationship and clashing ideologies between a father and son set in the backdrop of the kidnapping industry in Bihar.

Randhir Kapoor is the eldest son of Raj Kapoor. Randhir directed Henna in 1991. It was started by his father, who died during its production, and Randhir earned a Filmfare nomination as Best Director.

Other Indian entries are Benaras (Pankuj Parashar), Floating Lamp of The Shadow Valley (Rajesh S. Jala), Sakshi (which has been labelled the "first Goan Marathi film" by Sandeep Kalangutkar), Doshor (Rituporno Ghosh), Saanjhbatir Roopkathara (Anjan Das) and Jannat (Kunal Deshmukh).

South Asian films being screened during the three-day event include Chitra Nodir Pare (Bangladesh, Dir. Tanvir Mokammel), Hansa Vilak (Sri Lanka, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake), Khamosh Pani (Pakistan, Sabiha Sumar).

World Ka Centre (Pakistan, Bilal Minto), Sacrifice (Afghanistan), Dharinnattakai (Maldives, Ahmed Nimal), Women Of The Holy Kingdom (Pakistan, Sharmeen Obaid), Hothat Dekha (Bangladesh, Tanveer Hossain), Mille Soya (Sri Lanka, Boodee Keerthisena) are being screened.

Films also showing include a world premiere of Unadittya (Bangladesh, Razibul Hossain), and others like Stranger (Afghanistan, Siddiq Barmark), Matir Moina (Bangladesh, Tareque and Catherine), Golden Cup (Bhutan, Tshering Penjore), Schools in the Crossfire (Nepal, Dhurba Basnet), A Journey Through Afghanistan (Pakistan, Sharmeen Obaid), Khoya Khoya Chand (Sudhir Mishra), Khuda Ke Liye (Pakistan, Shoaib Mansoor), Travellers and Magicians (Bhutan, Khyentse Norbu).

Viewers would also get to watch Ontorjatra (Bangladesh by Tareque & Catherine), Chandni (Pakistan, by Siraj-Ul-Haque), Veils Of Maya (Sri Lanka by Boodee Keerthisena), Akhtar The Joker (Aghanistan, Latif Ahmadi), Auction (Bangladesh, Zakir Hossain) and Nepali film Kagbeni Bhushan Dahal.

Entry for the festival is being offered on a first-come-first-served basis, and there is no entry fee, organisers said. But it is open only to those above 18 years of age. More details at

Frederick Noronha


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