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|September 7, 2001||
East meets West
To prove that there is a lot more to Indian cinema than the fare that comes out of Bollywood, the Bay Area, San Jose, will be treated to two weekends of Bengali films in its film festival.
The Festival Films From India will screen eight films from Bengali filmmakers, including legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray's Ganastru, (Enemy of the People) and Gautam Ghose's Dekha.
Ghose and Basu Chaterjee, who's film Chupi Chupi (quietly) will be screened on September 8, will take part in a question and answer session with the audience after the films have been screened.
It was mostly through the efforts of Mrinal and Sulata Sarkar that the art cinema film festival is possible.
"My husband and I have been going to film festivals in San Francisco since 1974," Sulata Sarkar informs rediff.com. "We thought how come more Indian art films aren't shown? They may be low-budget, but they are very good films."
Sankar Basu, senior deputy director with the Indian Directorate of Film Festivals, said that a lot of the great Indian films end up at international film festivals without making it to US theatres. The Sarkars and Basu plan on making this the first of continuing annual film festivals.
"We want to try expose the mainstream to the India cinema on a regional basis," Basu says.
Sarkar and her husband raised $20,000 mostly through their family and friends and then approached Bay Area Prabasi Inc with the idea. Once the group signed on with support -- it was on to the Indian Consulate to actually procure the films for viewing.
Outgoing Deputy Consula Abhijit Halder said that when Prabasi approached him, he thought it was brilliant idea. "There is need to direct the synergy of the Indian community towards promoting Indian art, culture and traditions."
He added that part of the difficulty in procuring the films was that because they are old, they are kept under protective care.
"Others have been released in very limited numbers and were actually in other countries for film festivals, such as Dekha, which will go to London when it leaves the US," Basu states.
Halder noted that it was particularly gratifying to have participated in the project since his tenure is almost over. "I wanted this project to take off while I am here, especially since this could be the beginning of many more such festivals to take place in future representing other regions of India."
The other films that will be screened are Ashook, by Rituparno Ghosh , Chokh, by Utapalendu Chakravarty, Saptapadi, by Ajoy Kar, and Amrita Kumbher Ssandhaney by Dilip Roy.
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