SFist Wendy kicks off SFist's SFIFF coverage for the next two weeks!

Just a quick note on last night’s film since we’ve been asked to keep it a surprise for you all. . . . Last night we were lucky enough to catch Brick Lane at the SF Int'l Film Fest before it hits the theaters. It’s an adaptation of Monica Ali’s debut novel, Brick Lane, which came out in 2003 and was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize for fiction that year.

Ali, like Nazneen, the star of the novel and the film, was born in Bangladesh, but calls London home. The film features Nazneen’s struggles and triumphs in adapting to life in London after she is wrenched from her life in Bangladesh and is forced into marriage with a much older Bangladeshi man living in London.

Brick Lane itself is a real street in the east end of London and has a history dating back to the 15th century. Like Nazneen and her family, it’s been home to many groups of immigrants since that time, and is now a center for London’s Bangladeshi community, and is known as Banglatown. As director Sarah Gavron mentioned in a Q&A after the screening, Ali’s book and the filming of the movie were met with a considerable amount of controversy in 2003, when locals complained that the book and the movie made them seem rural and unsophisticated. While the protests later died down, the movie is still the object of debate over free speech and multicultural diversity in England.

Brick Lane opens in the Bay Area on June 27.

SFist Wendy, contributing.