India International Film Festival: Channelside Cinemas in Tampa goes Bollywood this weekend, with the second annual showcase of Indo-region filmmaking and culture. Two dozen features, shorts and documentaries are wrapped around parties, panels and filmmaking workshops with the pros.
Friday's events begin with red carpet entries at 6:30 p.m., led by actor-director Ajay Naidu, whose crime drama Ashes copped the opening night slot. The 8:15 showing will be followed by a Q&A session and a reception in the theater's Dolce Vita lounge. Admission is $50, or included in the $75 all-access festival pass.
All other individual screening tickets are $10, with day passes available for $25.
Information about all events, including several freebies, is available at the festival's website, www.iifftampa.com.
Saturday and Sunday's film lineups start at noon, continuing all day. Sunday's final presentation at 7 p.m. is Sangeeta Datta's Life Goes On, dramatizing a husband's grief after his wife dies. Datta will attend, answering question and mingling at a Dolce Vita reception after the show.
Free to the public on Saturday and Sunday are workshops conducted by Mumbai choreographer Jayashree Srikanth, who'll demonstrate various forms of Indian folk dancing on the Channelside courtyard stage. Saturday's workshops are scheduled at 3 and 4 p.m.; Sunday's are at 1 and 3.
Other freebies include a panel discussion among filmmakers titled "Home is Where the Art Is" (4:30 p.m. Saturday), the documentaries I Met With an Accident (4:45 p.m. Saturday) and A Journey in My Mother's Footsteps (12:30 p.m. Sunday), and an Indian music video collection hosted by Deejay Ra (6 p.m. Sunday).
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Eckerd College Environmental Film Festival: Now in its 12th year, this collection of seldom-seen cinema with eco-friendly themes boasts another interesting lineup. As always, the focus is on movies that make differences, not red carpet frills and too many selections to choose among.
Only one film is scheduled daily from Friday through Feb. 26. All screenings are free to the public in the Dan and Mary Miller Auditorium on the Eckerd College campus, 4200 54th Ave S in St. Petersburg.
Show times are 7 p.m. each day except Sunday, when the global warming documentary Cool It begins at 2. Audience discussion is encouraged after each film.
This year's highlight comes on Friday's opening night, with Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, winner of the Palme d'Or prize at 2010's Cannes Film Festival. The story languidly revolves around the death bed of an old man coming to terms with his existence through a series of hallucinations; it's part ghost story, part Zen meditation.
Another intriguing title is Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo (Wednesday), detailing Japan's cultural reverence for insects. The film will be introduced by Eckerd professor of Japanese language and culture Eileen Mikals-Adachi. Late that evening winners of the festival's Visions/Voices Environmental Short Film Competition will be announced. Those works will be shown throughout the festival.
For more information, visit the festival's website at eckerd.edu/eff.
Steve Persall, Times film critic