It’s that time of year again in Western Pennsylvania to wallow in a superabundance of amazing Asian American film offerings. Harish Saluja and his friends, in the know on all things cinematic, especially of the international variety, are putting on a very friendly event called the Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival this May in beautiful downtown Pittsburgh, PA.
I had a chance to attend the first year of this program, six years ago, and even in it’s infancy, the films were great, the guest speakers were wonderful, and the crowd attending was particularly warm and friendly to out-of-towners like myself. I particularly remember enjoying the chance to chat a bit with Konkona Sen Sharma when she was presenting her film Amu, what an enjoyable film! And also, getting to dance at the opening night party with the star of Man Push Cart, Ahmad Razvi…guaranteed to give even the most jaded of us “aunties” a girlish thrill! If you haven’t seen the film, you definitely should, here. Enough said about past glories…here’s what’s on for this year!
The festival runs from the opening gala on May 11th through the closing on May 20th. The films they showcase span many nations and cultures, all of Asian American heritage. The films listed in the Festival Guide cover the cinematic globe from Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Korea, Vietnam, Japan and, of course, a few from India! I’m in heaven!
Those of you who have heard us rhapsodizing over Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Peepli Live, Kahaani) and Tannishtha Chatterjee (Road, Movie and Brick Lane), knows I’ll be there for Mangesh Hadewale’s Dekh Indian Circus, the story of a mother’s love for her children and the struggle to get them a rare trip to the circus. And I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to attend Prashant Bhargava’s Patang, as well.
Trishna is director Michael Winterbottom’s (A Mighty Heart, The Trip–a hysterical film with Steve Coogan) update of Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” into the contemporary Rajasthani countryside. It’s a story of two lovers torn between different castes, plus a conflict of tradition versus the newly educated poor. Frida Pinto of Slumdog Millionaire stars.
Another one that intrigues me is Shala from director Sujay Dahake. It looks like a very cute coming of age story set in the 1970’s during the Emergency. School crushes rule destinies, in every country, it seems.
Delhi in a Day looks intriguing, too…though it’s not on a good day for me. Starring Lillete Dubey (KHNH, Monsoon Wedding) and Kulbushan Kharbanda (Lagaan, Monsoon Wedding) as the heads of a very wealthy nouveau-riche Indian family who rule over their household of very disorderly servants. Their world is turned upside down when the money of a naive British visitor (Lee Williams) disappears and they have to replace it. Directed by Prashant Nair.
And there are so many others…I wish I could catch them all. Hope I see some of you there, as well!