NYIFF 2013 Preview: Bringing South Asia To NYC For The 13th Year

J Hurtado, Contributing Writer
Just as the door closes on the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, the 13th annual New York Indian Film Festival is nearly upon us (both closely followed by the London Indian Film Festival in a few weeks time). This year's festival, which begins on Tuesday, April 30, brings the traveling circus of highly acclaimed feature films and documentaries to the Big Apple from their pit stops elsewhere. I'm very excited to cover this festival because, frankly, it's the first Indian film festival in nearly a year where everything on the list is new to me. No archived reviews for this one, I'm going all in!

That being said, there are certainly some films that are more interesting looking than others, so I'm going to give you a little guide regarding what to look for at this year's event.
dtdnyiff.jpgOpening Night: Dekh Tamasha Dekh
I know nothing about this film, but if it's been chosen as the opening night film, it should be pretty special. Here's the synopsis:
The story revolves around the search for the religious identity of a poor man crushed under the weight of a politician's hoarding. A social and political satire, the film explores the impossible India, where bizarre is normal.
pune52nyiff.jpgPune 52
Nikhil Mahajan's Pune 52 is a film that has eluded me for nearly a year now. This nouveau noir shows great promise. I've seen an extremely rough cut of the film, and I was very impressed in spite of the fact that none of the effects or sound were finished. I have my fingers crossed that I'll finally be able to see it properly here.
The life of a private detective undergoes a dramatic change when he takes up a case that is deeply personal and highly complex. Set in the year 1992, against the backdrop of the finance reform policy that spiraled the Indian middle class in a tizzy of consumerism, reforming everything, including their relationships, Pune 52 is a heartbreaking love story blended in a edge of the seat thriller.
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Aatma
One of my greatest disappointments this year was that Suparn Verma's unusual ghost story, Aatma, didn't get a theatrical release outside of India. I've been chomping at the bit to see it and it looks like this is finally my chance.
Aatma is the journey of a single mother Maya Verma who finally starts her life afresh with her six year old daughter Nia but as Maya starts to pick up the pieces of her life, strange things starts happening around her. Maya's six year old daughter Nia starts to speak to her dead father. Maya initially feels that she has created an imaginary father to fill the gap in her life but slowly Maya's life starts to fall apart and the reality gets darker till she starts to doubt her own sanity. Aatma is a psychological thriller set in a supernatural framework. It is about the inheritance of loss, a tableau of conflicting emotions played against a diabolic backdrop.
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Closing Night: Filmistaan
This National Award winning film from director Nitin Kakkar takes a look at the bonding power of cinema even in the harshest of environments. I heard great things about Filmistaan from IFFLA, and hope to be able to check it out here.
This National Award winning movie is set in Mumbai where, affable Bollywood buff and wanna-be-actor Sunny, who works as an assistant director, fantasizes on becoming a heart-throb star. However, at every audition he is summarily thrown out. Undeterred, he goes with an American crew to remote areas in Rajasthan to work on a documentary. One day an Islamic terrorist group kidnaps him for the American crew-member. Sunny finds himself on enemy border amidst guns and pathani-clad guards, who decide to keep him hostage until they locate their original target. The house in which he is confined belongs to a Pakistani, whose trade stems from pirated Hindi films, which he brings back every time he crosses the border. Soon, the two factions realize that they share a human and cultural bond. The film shows how cinema can be the universal panacea for co-existence.
Those are just a few of the fantastic looking films. NYIFF also has a repertory series, a documentary series, and a series of great looking Marathi films that I've been dying to dig into. For more information about the films, the festival, and how you can attend visit the links below.
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