Arts & Culture News

Our Top Picks for the South Asian Film Festival This Weekend

Don’t miss the 14-minute love story, Yellow Tin Can Telephone, screening at 7 p.m. Friday.
Don’t miss the 14-minute love story, Yellow Tin Can Telephone, screening at 7 p.m. Friday. Yellow Tin Can Telephone trailer screenshot
Dallas doesn’t long for film festivals, big or small, long or short. And that’s fine by us. The window into various topics, cultures and technologies provided by fests is invaluable, if not always entertaining. And c’mon, that’s not meant as an insult. There has to be one real dinger each year; it’s part of the festival thrill.

In its third year, the DFW South Asian Film Festival offers up a three-day series of screenings that span features, shorts and docs, and present audiences with world, national and state premieres. Taking place at the Perot Museum (opening night, March 3) and AMC Village on the Parkway 9 (Saturday and Sunday, March 4 and 5), the festival and its films address topics that are affecting South Asia, and promote the South Asian voices within our community.

That said, while this may technically be a foreign film festival, the themes of many of the films are universal. There’s LGTBQ rights, women’s issues from career suppression to surrogacy, and more. Also of note: This may be the first festival where we’ve seen “Men’s Programming” on the roster, but hey, there’s children’s too, so fair representation for all, we suppose.

The schedule looks short, but that’s largely because many of the films are actual shorts. Purchase film block tickets ($15 to $30, or $50 to $70 for centerpiece screenings and their related parties) or a $175 festival pass online. You could risk buying at the door, but it’s not recommended since tickets are transferable, although non-refundable.

Here are just a few highlights for the SAFF. By no means exhaustive, this list is the result of the “pre-fest research” (trailer, excerpt and interview peeping, article reading and comment creeping) we generally conduct prior to packing our downtime book and emergency theater hoodie into our festival tote and putting our ass in a theater seat.

For complete SAFF details and tickets, visit

Yellow Tin Can Telephone (2016, short)
Arunima Sharma, director
7 p.m. Friday

A Billion Colour Story (2016)
Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy, director
7 p.m. Friday

Attend this screening, and you’re in for 14 minutes of visually stunning film that sometimes wants to just pop off the screen. Whimsical and quirky, but still emotional, this love story couldn’t be more sensitive. She is sensitive to sound; he must filter out color.

Picking the opening night feature, A Billion Colour Story, was almost too easy. So, since Yellow Tin Can Telephone is a paired screening with Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy’s striking black-and-white spiritual coming-of-age/father-son story, you’ll technically get to see both.

India in a Day (2016, documentary)
Richie Mehta, director
11 a.m. Saturday

On October 10, 2015, the people of India shot their own documentary. Yep, this sucker is crowdsourced, executive produced by Ridley Scott and “powered by Google.” It could be the absolute worst film in the world, and you should still see it, just to experience it … and prove something to Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his fairly twee company HitRecord. But India in a Day is nowhere near bad. It’s the people of modern India dealing with highs and lows (some really high, and some very low) and there’s something truly special about their combined average day.

Any Other Day (2016, short)
Vikrant Dhote & Srikant A, directors
1:15 p.m. Saturday

Breaking Free (2015, documentary)
Sridhar Rangayan, director
1:15 p.m. Saturday

Strikingly relevant, Any Other Day looks at an encounter between two young men and police and addresses not only prejudice, but misuse of power. The level of discomfort achieved for the audience is nearly palpable (just check that trailer), despite the teensy running time of 12 minutes. It’s paired with Breaking Free, a 2015 feature-length doc for which Sridhar Rangayan took seven years to compile footage, and together, the two provide a stark look at the treatment — both in society and on the government level (specifically Section 377) — of LGBTQ India. Packed with first-hand accounts from gay and transgender people, advocates and others, Breaking Free is haunting while striking at the same time. Many of the personalities are magnetic, which may be exactly what takes it well beyond heartbreaking.

RAKHMABAI TRAILER from DFW South Asian Film Festival on Vimeo.

Doctor Rakhmabai (2016)
Ananth Mahadevan, director
3:15 p.m. Sunday

You’ll get us into most any theater with a good biopic, but this one is particularly special. Rakhmabai was responsible for the case that led to the Age of Consent Act after refusing to live with her husband, to whom she was married at the age of 11. Huge controversy (and beginning of change) there. She was also one of the first practicing female doctors in India. Major ruckus (and path paved) there. She’s a women’s rights icon in India, and deserves to be known all over the world. Perhaps this film is the first step toward that.
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Merritt Martin
Contact: Merritt Martin