SFIFF: Viz Cinema & Pink Saris

I just caught Pink Saris at the VIZ Cinema (AKA New People). This was my first time at that theater (which I’ve been following at Bayflicks for about a year now), so let me start with the place.

Located in the basement of the New People complex, the Viz offers exceptional comfort and modern projection. A moderately-sized theater with the currently-popular arena seating, its chairs are amongst the most comfortable I’ve sat in in a theater. The screen feels reasonably large, and the sound is terrific. Since Pink Saris was shot in what looked like standard def video, I hesitate to talk about the theater’s image quality, but I have no reason to believe that it isn’t excellent. Clearly, it was designed by people who cared and had the money to do it right.

C Pink Saris was also made by people who cared, but they didn’t get it right. A documentary portrait of Sampat Pal Devi, an Indian woman who has been battling gender and caste prejudice for 20 years—often with considerable success. Her’s is certainly a life worth celebrating—and worth exploring in-depth. Filmmaker Kim Longinotto tries to do both, showing the good Devi does and the emotional toll her work has on those close to her. The problem is that Devi comes off as shrill and argumentative. As she deals with one very similar case after another, her voice is grating and angry, even when she’s comforting people. It wears on you.

It plays again on Thursday, at 6:15, at the Kabuki.