Mani Ratnam's Kannathil Muthamittal (A Peck On The Cheek), about an adopted girl set against the background of Sri Lanka's civil war, will open the 26th Asian American International Film Festival in New York.
The Tamil film, one of the most popular and acclaimed entries at last year's Toronto International Film Festival, has been shown at several film festivals in Europe and America. Popular actor Madhavan, who plays a conflicted writer and father in the film, will attend the screening.
Included in the programme is Renata Huang's Tribute And Remembrance, commissioned by the Asian American Federation of New York. The documentary studies the 9/11 impact on Asian Americans.
The festival is a pioneering effort that has showcased many films from Asia and some fine films by Asian filmmakers in America, including Ang Lee, Wayne Wang, Mailou Diaz-Abaya, Ismail Merchant and Mira Nair.
AAIFF will present over 90 documentaries, features and shorts June 20-29 at the Asia Society on Park Avenue.
This year's festival includes films like Flavors, directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK; Everybody Says I'm Fine! by Rahul Bose; and Charlotte Sometimes, by Eric Byler. It also features films by Rajiv Sicoria and Tanuj Chopra.
Set against the wedding of a young South Asian man and a white woman and tracking multiple stories through a quirky narrative, Flavors makes its American premiere at AAIFF. The English-language movie, which is 119 minutes long and has some dialogues in Hindi, will be shown on June 21 and again on June 29. This is the only film that has recorded a sellout a week prior to its screening at the festival.
Chopra's Butterfly, about a romance between two people sparked by their love for butterflies, will be shown June 21. Sicoria's animation short Geckos And Gods, based on the filmmaker's encounter with katydid, an insect of the cricket family in Maui, Hawaii, will also be screened the same day.
Selected films will also be shown at Flushing Town Hall, June 28-29, for the first time.
Bose's 113-minute long English-language film Everybody Says I'm Fine! will be shown at the Lila Acheson Wallace Auditorium June 29. The film, which was also shown at TIFF last year, is the story of Xen, the owner of an upscale salon in one of the richest neighbourhoods in Mumbai. Xen not only works on hair but also reads the minds of his customers.
The closing night film, Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity, by Mina Shum, is set in the Chinese-Canadian community and revolves around the theme of hope and the importance of keeping faith in a difficult world. The film has had excellent reception at major international film festivals, including the one in Berlin, where it received the prize for a film by a first-time director.
Presented by Asian Cine Vision in association with the Asia Society, the festival offers films from over a dozen countries across the world. AAIFF then shows many of the films shown at the festival in over a dozen cities in America and Canada. The festival also presents an annual Emerging Directors Award, for which Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK are nominees.
There are over half a dozen festivals across America devoted to Asian films but AAIFF is the only event that offers a comprehensive panorama of feature films, shorts and documentaries that examine Asian lives in their home countries and in American counties and cities. The organisers say they have never shied away from showing edgier and controversial films.
For programme and ticket information, visit the Asian American Film Festival website or call (212) 989-1422.