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Aladin goes to New York

Last updated on: October 29, 2009 18:30 IST

Image: Ian Wile, Simon Taufigue, Samrat Chakrabarti, Anadil Hossain, Amelia Hanibelsz, Shibani Joshi, Maulik Pancholy and Vivek Tiwary
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi Arthur J Pais in New York

The sixth edition of the South Asian International Film Festival kicked off with Aladin, featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Ritesh Deshmukh and Jacqueline Fernandez.

The SAIFF is one of the four annual film festivals in the New York tri-state area showing South Asian films. It gives awards in many categories. This year's jury includes actors Ajay Naidu and Samrat Chakraborty, and Vivek J Tiwary, one of the few Indian producers in New York theatre and who has also been a minority producer in Mel Brook's The Producers.

The festival will end on November 3 with Paresh Mokashi's directorial debut Harishchandrachi Factory. The Marathi film is India's entry for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards.

Aladin goes to New York

Image: Samrat Chakraborty

The festival organisers believe that showing Mokashi's film will enhance the festival's stature.

The low budget film depicts the story of Dadasaheb Phalke's quest to create India's first full-length feature film, Raja Harishchandra, which was released in 1913.

Mokashi, who also wrote the script, said in a statement, 'For me, the inspiration to make the film was Phalke himself. Learning about how he made the film and what he went through prompted me to base the movie on the subject.'

Aladin goes to New York

Image: Shilen Amin

The film has already won several awards, including for Best Director, Best Film and Best Art Direction at the 46th Maharashtra State Film Awards, and also for best director at the Pune International Film Festival held earlier this year.

"Paresh entertains and educates moviegoers, many for the very first time, on a true Indian hero with the story of Dhundiraj Govind Phalke," said SAIFF President Shilen Amin, "and how the birth of Indian cinema took shape nearly 95 years ago. This is a very special film for everyone to see and we are proud for him and his team for their 2010 Academy Award nomination."

Aladin goes to New York

Image: Vivek Tiwary

Amin also said the festival seeks to discover new artists in the subcontinent and across America 'who provide an international platform to emerging independent South Asian filmmakers to showcase their creativity.'

Aladin was chosen because its director Sujoy Ghosh, according to Amin, is 'exceptionally skilled in storytelling and brings the latest in Bollywood's foray into special effects, establishing never before seen practices in its film production history.'

Another interesting film at SAIFF festival came from Britain. Shifty, an independently made film focused on a young crack cocaine dealer (Riz Ahmed) in London whose life is threatened when his best friend comes to him, hoping for a new life. But the friend's dark past creates problems for Shifty and his family.

For more information about SAIFF 2009 check