Real South Asian flavor on display this weekend

Film South Asia

Cramer Hall 71, May 10-11 at 4-10:30 p.m.

Film South Asia, a traveling biennial film festival featuring documentaries about and by the people of Nepal, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, is taking place at Portland State this Friday and Saturday, from 4 to 10:30 p.m., in Cramer Hall 71. The event is free to students and $10 for all others. The entrance fee goes towards supporting the Himalayan Research Bulletin and the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies as a tax-deductible donation.

Barbara Brower, professor of geography at PSU and editor of the Himalayan Research Bulletin, a leading journal on Himalayan studies, hopes that the film fest will “develop an educational outreach and increase awareness of the region, which the world is only now considering to be critical, even as we know almost nothing.”

The films cover a wide array of topics, and there is truly something for everyone, from the posthumous account of a Bangladeshi man and his experiences as a migrant worker in Malaysia in “My Migrant Soul,” to the celebrations of the gods Ram and Ravan in streetside Delhi in “Ramlila,” to the curious events that unfold in preparation for President Clinton’s visit to Bangladesh in “King For a Day.” These documentaries offer a rare and undeniable glimpse into untold lives on the Subcontinent.

“The Killing Terraces” attempts to capture the essence of the Maoist movement in Nepal and its consequences, while “Between the Devil and the Deep River” tells of the manmade embankments on the Kosi River in North Bihar.

Sweatshop life in a Bombay slum and workers’ attempts to organize are detailed in “Jari Mari: Of Cloth and Other Stories,” while “The Bee, the Bear and the Kuruba” describes the forced eviction of the Kuruba people in the forests of the Western Ghats starting in the early 1970s and the difficulties that they continue to face.

On a lighter note, boys from a pop group discuss life’s new complications with a young artist in the developing upper-middle class of Dhaka in “Our Boys,” and aging seniors in Bengal revisit the trials and tribulations of their past in “We Homes Chaps.” The sexual fantasies of Indian men are explored to their fullest in “King of Dreams,” and Bombay’s leftist artistic and cultural movement is shown through the stories of a poet and a painter in “The Loom.”

For those interested in process, “Silent Shorts” goes behind the scenes of 22 short films shown at Film South Asia 2001 that were made without the use of ambient sound. “Born at Home” explores the sociology of midwifery in India and its role within the caste system, while “Colours Black” is structured around the narratives of four abused children in Bombay’s well-to-do society.

The little known life story of Bishop John Joseph, who dramatically gave up his life in an effort to tell the world about religious intolerance in Pakistan, is told in “A Sun Sets In.” In “A Rough Cut on the Life and Times of Luchuman Magar,” the portrait is of a somewhat less holy character who has fought in wars, married five times and continues his stodgy ways as a cleaner at a tourist lodge in Nepal’s Tarai, even as life comes full circle for him.

Any additional proceeds made from the film fest will benefit the Association for Communal Harmony in Asia, a Kathmandu-based nonprofit seeking to give people around the world a better understanding of South Asia through publication of its magazine as well as educational training.

“We’re just looking to educate and let people know more, and then help ACHA do more good on the ground,” added Brower. “These documentaries show a different side of this region of the world, and it also ties in well with our current classes at PSU.”

@box:Friday, May 10

My Migrant Soul – Yasmine Kabir, 2000, 35 min., Bangladesh.

The Bee, The Bear And The Kuruba – Vinod Raja, 2000, 63 min., Karnataka.

Jari Mari: Of Cloth And Other Stories – Surabhi Sharma, 2001, 74 min., Bombay.

Born At Home – Sameera Jain, 2000, 60 min., North India.

Colours Blacks – Mamta Murthy, 2001, 30 min., Bombay.

Our Boys – Manzare Hassin, 2000, 42 min., Bangladesh.

King Of Dreams – Amar Kanwar, 2001, 30 min., India.

Silent Shorts

Saturday, May 11

The Loom – Anjali Monteiro and K.P. Jayasankar, 2001, 49 min., Bombay.

Between The Devil And The Deep River – Arvind Sinha, 1999, 65 min., Bihar.

Ramlila – Ananth Sridhar, Sanjay Pande, Subash Kapoor, 2000, 28 min., Delhi.

The Killing Terraces – Dhruba Basnet, 2001, 40 min., Nepal.

A Sun Sets In – Shahid Nadeem, 1999, 45 min., Pakistan.

A Rough Cut On The Life And Times Of Lachuman Magar – Dinesh Deokota, 2001, 39 min., Nepal.

We Homes Chaps – Kesang Tsten, 2001, 65 min., North Bengal.

For more information or updates, please contact 503-725-8312.