Founded in 2010 by the Chicago South Asian Arts Council, the Chicago South Asian Film Festival gives South Asian talent, stories and themes a world platform. This year it takes place from September 30-October 5, with premiere films, panel discussions, speaker series, workshops, film awards, receptions, after parties and networking events. Visit CSAFF’s website for program details and tickets. Here’s a taste of the artistic offerings from the festival’s 2015 edition.
The festival opened on Wednesday with a screening of Patang in honor of filmmaker Prashant Bhargava, who passed away in May. On Vimeo, CSAFF shared the comments of introductory speakers about Bhargava and his work. Hear the introductory remarks shared Thursday’s red carpet night included the Chicago premiere of Marathi language coming-of-age film Killa (The Fort) and a Q&A with its director Avinash Arun, who studied cinematography at FTII. Shot in the villages of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra, Killa is Arun’s directorial debut, with references to his own childhood, and offers viewers stunning views of rural landscapes in its tale of a boy’s life journey.
Bollywood drama Titli featured in Friday’s festival program with director Kanu Behl and cast members Shivani Raghuvanshi and Ranvir Shorey in person for a Q&A. The film is set in Delhi’s underbelly with Titli (Shashank Arora) being the youngest member of a car-jacking family business which he desperately wants to leave. His brothers won’t allow this, and they marry him off to Neelu (Shivani Raghuvanshi) in an effort to “settle” him. Releasing commercially in India on October 30, Titli‘s gritty crime drama is Behl’s debut.
The weekend for CSAFF offers a full program of intriguing film selections such as Hunterr, My Big Fat Bride (Dum Laga Ke Haisha), and Dukhtar, Pakistan’s 2015 Oscars entry, with director Afia Nathaniel present for a Q&A. Saturday evening has CSAFF’s celebration screening for the 20th anniversary of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge — the source of one of Bollywood’s classic train scenes, showcase for one of our favorite on-screen couples, and so much more.
Fittingly for a festival that will be awarding the glamorous and timeless actress Sharmila Tagore a Lifetime Achievement Award, tomorrow night’s reception and awards event includes the Chicago premiere of Me, My Mom and Sharmila, a one-woman play by Fawzia Mirza. Told through the lens of two women’s shared love for the Indian film star Sharmila Tagore, the play shares Mirza’s journey of self-discovery from her childhood as a Pakistani Muslim in small-town Canada to living as an actress in Chicago, using personal anecdotes, pop culture and South Asian history. For the festival’s closing night on Monday, Tagore herself is scheduled to participate in a Q&A event following a screening of Satyajit Ray’s Devi.