Film Detail


Hoku Uchiyama / USA, India / 2011 / 40 min / World Premiere


This year, SFIAAFF celebrates 10 years in San Jose. An event of this magnitude requires an opening-night film that can match its momentous nature, and UPAJ more than delivers in its exhilarating portrait of the beauty and constant rejuvenation of dance as it follows two unlikely collaborators an Indian Kathak master and a tap dancer from New York's Hell's Kitchen united to create a new kind of performance. This stunning cinematic travelogue takes us behind the scenes of the birth of India Jazz Suites, a phenomenal East-meets-West dance collaboration featuring Indian Kathak master Pandit Chitresh Das and the rising tap star Jason Samuels Smith. Das is a 63-year-old artist who exemplifies the elegance and mathematical precision of Kathak, one of India’s classical dance forms. Jason is a 23-year-old African American tap dancer who hails from the freestyle, street-wise American realm of contemporary tap. As the two join forces, an unlikely friendship develops that bridges continents, generations, cultures and communities as well as the largely unknown histories of their respective art forms. But when these passionate dancers take their show on the road, cultural and generational clashes threaten to unravel their groundbreaking collaboration, and each performer must come to terms with their own personal and artistic demons. Shot backstage and on the pulsating streets of India and the United States, UPAJ captures the exhilaration and exhaustion of the India Jazz Suites tour, and the resolutions Das and Jason must make to complete their artistic journey together. More than a portrait of a single tour or a few performers, it captures the power of art and performance to shatter barriers of age, race and culture. After the film, the legendary Pandit Chitresh Das and the soon-to-be legendary tap star Smith will perform an exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime dance, which will be followed by a conversation with both stars. This is an event you don’t want to miss. Masashi Niwano Performances by: Chhandam Youth Dance Company Jason Samuels Smith Pandit Chitresh Das In Attendance: Hoku Uchiyama (Director) Don't miss: San Jose Opening Night Gala Reception Celebrate the festival’s 10th year in San Jose at an elegant gala at the San Jose Museum of Art. Nibble on delicious hors d’oeuvres and enjoy the museum’s new spotlight, “Roots in the Air, Branches Below: Modern and Contemporary Art from India.” NOTE: This screening of UPAJ is a special first look at a work in progress.


  • Director: Hoku Uchiyama
  • Producer: Antara Bhardwaj
  • Cinematographer: Hoku Uchiyama
  • Editor: Hoku Uchiyama


Fri 03.18 700pm


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