Shabana Azmi

Bollywood actress Shabana Azmi (second from left) received the Lifetime Achievement Award while actor Rajkummar Rao (r) was awarded the SAFA award at the eighth annual Chicago South Asian Film Festival. Also shown in the picture are filmmaker Aparna Sen and actor Akshay Oberoi. (photo courtesy of Rahul Rana Photography)

Veteran Bollywood actress Shabana Azmi was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award while “Newton” actor Rajkummar Rao received the South Asian Films in America Award, popularly called the SAFA Award, during the eighth annual Chicago South Asian Film Festival, held Sept. 29- Oct.1 across three venues in downtown Chicago and Oakbrook, Illinois.

The film festival, which presented 44 films around the theme of “Women in Cinema,” brought together renowned as well as up-and-coming female filmmakers.

Filmmakers and actors in attendance included Aparna Sen, Adil Hussain and Akshay Oberoi.

Rao, whose most recent cinematic outing, “Newton,” is India’s official entry to the 2018 Oscars, was screened on the opening day of the fest.

The three-day festival of dynamic film selections, intimate film discussions with filmmakers and talent, and blockbuster events, also presented awards in various categories: the ‘Best Short Feature’ award was given to “Maya”; the ‘Best Short Documentary’ was awarded to “The Survivor”; the ‘Best Feature Documentary’ was won by “Many Rivers Home”; and “You Are My Sunday” won the ‘Best Feature Film’ award.

Close to 2,000 filmgoers, many from the Indian American community, attended the in-competition films and various events in and around the city of Chicago.

The Chicago South Asian Film Festival, which aims to foster a diverse cinematic experience through South Asian films, was founded in 2010. It is organized by the Chicago South Asian Arts Council Inc. 

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