SEATTLE, Wash. – Indian filmmaker Tanuja Chandra’s “Silvat,” a love story, and Pakistani filmmakers Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi’s “Jeewan Hathi,” a satire and black comedy, are some of the films that are being screened at the 11th edition of the Seattle South Asian Film Festival, which kicked off Oct. 14 here.
The two films, which are part of Zeal for Unity, a peace initiative in which Indian and Pakistani filmmakers endeavor to bring together thought leaders from across the borders, are among 23 feature films and 22 short films from India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, which have been selected to be screened during the 10-day fest at various Seattle-area locations.
Presented by the non-profit, community-based organization Tasveer, the theme of this year’s festival, which is considered one of the largest South Asian film festivals in the U.S., is “Love Wins.”
Homosexuality is still a crime in India. Two LGBT-themed documentaries, “My Child is Gay and I’m Happy” and “Dancing Queens: It’s All About Family,” cast a light on the families of LGBT people.
Three films, which trace social and emotional journeys, be it Indian women across the ages or South Asian parents that form the diaspora or gendered experiences in the urban Indian context, have also been included in the lineup: Baljit Sangra’s “Many Rivers Home”; Annie Zaidi’s “In Her Words: The Journey of Indian Women”; and Sunita Prasad’s “Recitations Not from Memory.”
Director Vivek Kajaria’s “Durga,” an inspiring tale of children triumphing against all odds, and Shaunak Sen’s “The Unseen: Cities of Sleep,” which tracks the infamous ‘sleep mafia’ in Delhi, will be screened Oct. 23 at the Carco Theater in Renton, Washington.
Bangladesh is in the spotlight at SSAFF 2016 featuring comedies, dramas, and shorts from the country.
The Bangladeshi drama, “Aynabaji,” a dark and engrossing urban thriller, was screened at the opening night gala at the Seattle Art Museum, while another Bangladeshi film, “Ant Story,” a wry comedy by Bangladeshi director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, will be screened in the centerpiece gala slot Oct. 20.
“Waiting,” which is filmmaker Anu Menon’s tale about a special relationship between two people who befriend each other unexpectedly in a hospital while nursing their individual spouses in a coma, will be screened during the closing night ceremony Oct. 23. The 90-minute film stars Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin.
In addition to the film screenings, a diverse group of panelists discussed race, sexuality and censorship of film, art and activism in India and beyond Oct. 18.