The 9th annual 3rd i San Francisco South Asian Film Festival returns, starting November 10th, with films from all over South Asia. This year, the festival focuses on Sri Lankan and South Asian-American films.

SFISAFF welcomes feature-length films and documentaries from six countries, but this year the spotlight is on films from Sri Lanka, both contemporary and classic. On November 10th at the Castro Theatre the festival will be showing Lester James Peries’ 1964 classic Gamperaliya, which changed the direction of Sri Lankan film. Recently restored by the UCLA Film Archive, Satyajit Ray was a big admirer and the film has been compared to Ray’s own Apu Trilogy.

Later that day, Asoka Handagama’s controversial A Letter of Fire (2005) will finally make it’s U.S. premiere. Banned in Sri Lanka, it’s a strongly political film, critical of the country’s judicial and class system. It follows an aristocratic family led by a retired judge that is thrown up in arms when his 12 year-old son kills a famous prostitute. Handagama will be on hand for a Q&A.

On November 11, at the Roxie Theatre, Prashant Bhargava’s celebrated Patang will be screening. Getting great reviews at recent festivals including Berlin and Tribeca, and also from Roger Ebert, the film is a dazzling family drama that culminates at India’s largest kite festival in Ahmedabad. First time director Prashant Bhargava will be in attendance to speak with the audience.

As noted above, this year’s festival is larger than ever.

“The festival has grown to five days this year,  and we’ll also have more films screening than ever,” says Festival Director Ivan Jaigirdar. He continued, “We’ve also got way more filmmakers, producers, writers and actors coming to the festival for Q&As and discussions.  So, having these film folk around will give the audience an opportunity to meet them and get more of a three dimensional look at cinema.”

More info.