Variety of films from South Asia to feature at DCSAFF

Actors Farooq Shaikh, Pooja Batra to participate in workshops.

By Isha Roy

WASHINGTON, DC: The second edition of the annual DC South Asian Film Festival (DCSAFF), organized by the husband-wife dup of Geeta and Manoj Singh, of Ceasar Productions, will be held at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Rockville, Maryland, from May 10-12.

"Manoj Singh and Geeta Singh."
Manoj Singh and Geeta Singh

The festival aims to give South Asian filmmakers from around the world a chance to exhibit their films to the diverse cine-going audience of the nation”s capital region. The festival brings together a wide variety of films from across South Asia and includes films in Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Bengali, and Telugu.

In an interview to The American Bazaar, Manoj Singh talks about the changes in the festival this year around and some of the celebrity guests expected to grace the occasion. Excerpts from the interview:

DCSAFF was a huge success last year.  What is different and unique about this year’s film festival in terms of the type of films that are going to be featured?

The first change that comes to mind was our decision to feature more films from countries other than India.  This is different from last year when most of the films we featured were from India.  Attendees to this year’s festival will be able to watch films from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in addition to the movies from the various regions of India.  Our goal as a committee was to focus on diversity and variety in our film selections.  In addition, there will be more short films featured at this year’s festival including those directed and produced by local artists.

We’re also very excited about the special guests we are bringing from India and also the venue (Crown Plaza Hotel, Rockville, MD.) for the festival.  We’re confident that the venue will provide attendees with a great experience and also plenty of free parking.  For our out of town attendees we have arranged for special hotel packages which include passes to the festival.  Details of those packages can be found on our website (http://www.dcsaff.com/).

The festival this year features some prominent directors and actors.  What will be their role at the film festival?

Confirmed guests for this year’s festival include FarooqShaikh, Saritra Joshi, Sanjay Suri and PoojaBatra.  The actors are scheduled to participate in various workshops throughout the weekend for festival attendees interested in learning about the “ins and outs” of the film industry.  FarooqShaikh will be taking part in a tribute to Jagjit Singh we have organized.  The guests will also take part in a judge’s panel which will give out awards to the top independent films from this year’s festival.

What was the preparation like for putting together this film festival?

Putting on a film festival is very challenging due to issues such as travel visas for our guests and also scheduling conflicts.  Our featured guests have extremely busy schedules, thus it can be very difficult for them to find time to attend festivals.  Considering that, we are very excited about our confirmed guests and their interest in not only attending the festival but actively taking part in the workshops for the attendees.  Another major challenge is raising enough money to cover expenses related to the festival such as travel and accommodations for our special guests from India.

What were some lessons learned from last year’s festival and how are you planning on making this year’s event a bigger success?  

Compared to last year, we’ve reduced the number of films we will be showing this year.  This will provide festival attendees with a great selection of movies to choose from but at the same time not feel overwhelmed with the number of films they can watch.   We’ve also focused on a more diverse selection of movies.  Attendees will be able to watch movies from not only India, but also Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, as I said before.  From a logistical perspective, all events with the festival will be taking place at the same hotel which will make it easy for attendees to navigate themselves around the festival.  We’ve also added more food selections for our attendees.  There will be plenty of food and shopping options for our attendees.

To contact the author, e-mail: isharoy@americanbazaaronline.com

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