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Film & DVD

South Asian Film Festival returns to Enzian

Asian Cultural Association brings Mumbai to Maitland for 19th year

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JADOO


Salma
(documentary, 89 minutes; screens 11 a.m. Sunday)
★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

“Most girls start periods at 13. That’s when the outside world becomes strictly forbidden,” Salma says. “After puberty, you lose the outside world. One by one, my school friends got locked up. That’s how it is for Muslim girls.” And that’s how it was – and still is – for girls in this conservative Indian village, including Salma, who was imprisoned by her parents for nine years, from puberty to marriage. She was then imprisoned mentally by her husband and his family until she miraculously found a way to break free and become one of her country’s greatest poets.

“Allah has written this fate on our hands,” Salma’s mother told her. The daughter’s reaction: “The anger was boiling inside me. That’s when I started writing poetry.” If this heartbreaking and insightful Tamil-language documentary by Kim Longinotto doesn’t make you angry too, you’re not paying attention. Yet despite its powerfully personal story, Salma’s message is that the villains of misogynistic oppression are not the people, but the traditions themselves, those centuries-old rules that subjugate in the name of religion. And not just Islam, but any religion that preaches inequality, ignorance and fairy tales over fairness. – CM

Midnight’s Children
(feature, 140 minutes; screens 1:30 p.m. Sunday)
★★★ (out of 5 stars)

An epic spanning 60 years, Midnight’s Children is the unique tale of babies born at 12 a.m. on Aug. 14, 1947, the day of India’s independence. Blending drama, romance and even fantasy in the tradition of Indian cinema, Deepa Mehta’s movie shows that though two of those children were switched at birth, their lives and destinies are forever intertwined, as are the destinies of all Indians and Pakistanis.
“A child and a country were born at midnight,” says one of the boys. “Great things were expected of us both. The truth has been less glorious than the dream, but we have survived and made our way. And our lives have been, in spite of everything, acts of love.” Written by Salman Rushdie, who based it on his novel, the film is also an act of love carrying the burden of great expectations. But as with many overly ambitious epics, it struggles to fulfill those expectations and can’t quite juggle its complicated storylines, its heavy-handed narration and its awkward transitions between drama and fantasy. – CM

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