By Andrew Hamlin
Northwest Asian Weekly
The 11th Seattle South Asian Film Festival (SSAF) starts on Oct. 14, and according to festival director Kiran Dhillon, it’s taking on more tasks and more territory than ever.
“Festival goers will especially enjoy our Opening Night program, on Oct. 14 at Seattle Art Museum (SAM) with the screening of ‘Aynabaji,’ followed by a reception at the Triple Door,” said Dr. Dhillon. “They’ll have the opportunity to mingle with Chanchal Chowdhury, the star of the film, at SAM and the Triple Door. DJ RDX of Wicked Karma will be spinning all night.”
“There is also a Centerpiece event at SAM on Oct. 20, where we’re showing a fantastic psychological thriller called ‘Ant Story.’ The director, Mostofa Farooki, will be there and we’ll be presenting him with the Tasveer Emerald Award for significant contributions to Bangladeshi cinema. There is also a closing night and awards event on Oct. 23, where we’ll be presenting the Audience Choice awards for Best Narrative Film, Best Documentary, and Best Short Film.”
“Aynabaji,” the opening night film, comes from Bangladesh, and Dhillon described the dark comedy, about a struggling actor who goes just a little bit too far undercover and has trouble recovering himself, as one of his favorites. The SSAF screening marks its international premiere.
Some of Dhillon’s other favorites include “Cities of Sleep,” from India, a documentary studying Indian homelessness, with director Shaunak Sen in attendance; “Gardaab,” from Pakistan, a Romeo and Juliet story set in the midst of social conflict in modern day Karachi, with director Harune Massey in attendance; and “Unbroken Glass,” from the United States, a documentary study of mental illness in an Indian family, with director Dinesh Sabu, and a few of his siblings shown in the film, in attendance.
“Unbroken Glass” will be part of the “Let’s Talk Mental Health” program at the festival.
“We’re building a panel with local mental health experts.” Dr. Dhillon said.
Asked how films get chosen for the festival, Dhillon says the parent organization, Tasveer, puts out a broad call for submissions internationally. “Once films have been submitted, our programming committee members watch all the films. Each film is watched by at least 3 people. We use scores and discussion to select films. ”
“The film festival has many moving parts,” she continued. “It requires the coordination of many people and events — some of which are in your control, and a lot of which are not. You have to be very comfortable working in a very dynamic environment and be prepared to deal with surprises.
The Seattle South Asian Film Festival plays Oct. 14 through Oct. 23 at various Seattle venues. For events, prices, and showtimes, consult ssaff.tasveer.org/2016.
Andrew can be reached at email@example.com.