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Best of Asian cinema and stars in India

By Hindol Sengupta, IANS

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Iran's legendary Makhmalbaf film family will join a galaxy of Indian stars like Aparna Sen and Shabana Azmi as the world's only Asian film festival unfolds in New Delhi this weekend.

Eagerly awaited among the Osian Cinefan film festival's bouquet of 90 films are movies directed by Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who started the cinema revolution in Iran, his wife and children - all of who are celebrated film directors.

Makhmalbaf arrived in the capital early Friday with his daughters Samira, Maysam and Hana for the festival, which has eight films by him and his family - renowned as the House of Makhmalbaf.

"The presence of the Makhmalbaf family at the festival is a fantastic achievement for us. That family has revolutionised cinema in the world and we are truly honoured to have them with us," Aruna Vasudev, who organises the annual festival and is often called the grand lady of Asian cinema, told IANS.

Other highlights of the fest are "Silent Waters", the award-winning film from Pakistan starring Indian actress Kiron Kher, and "Travellers and Magicians", an acclaimed Buddhist film by one of the world's most revered lamas, Khyentse Norbu.

The 10-day festival is being inaugurated Friday night at New Delhi's Siri Fort Auditorium.

"There are three power centres of cinema in the world today -- Europe, America and Asia," said Vasudev, who is also editor of the Asian cinema quarterly magazine Cinemaya.

Another highlight this year is a special section showing five films of Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar-Wai, whose latest offering "2046" generated enormous enthusiasm at Cannes.

Though "2046" is not being screened, there are cult classic Kar-Wai films like "Chungking Express", "Fallen Angels" and "In the Mood for Love".
Kar-Wai was supposed to come to the festival but had to cancel to edit his new venture.

Cinefan is also paying a tribute to Indian giant Guru Dutt this year with a retrospective of his works like "Kaagaz Ke Phool", "Sahib, Bibi Aur Ghulam" and "Pyaasa".

Vasudev started the Cinemaya magazine 17 years ago and the festival six years ago as an extension of her lifelong work to propagate Asian cinema.

Recently, her outfit merged with auction house Osian.

"After joining hands with Osian, a lot of our financial worries have been taken care of," said Vasudev, who is especially proud of the new Arab section in the festival.

"Films from the Arab world are some of the most lovely and touching. We are thrilled to bring them to the festival," smiled Vasudev.

The Arab section will have 12 films from countries like Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine and Iraq. The festival also has a competition section and next year a film bazaar is planned.

"The bottom line is that films should be sold and shown at theatres and we hope to facilitate the buying and selling of Asian films next year," said Vasudev.


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