Retrospective of Prakash Jha’s works at the Washington DC South Asian Film Festival

Nandita Das, Nagesh Kukunoor, Ismail Jilani to attend festival.

By The American Bazaar Staff

WASHINGTON, DC: Fans of South Asian films will have a chance to watch some of the finest independent movies to have come out of the region in recent times at the third Washington, DC, South Asian film festival (DCSAFF) next month, at the AMC Loews Rio Cinemas.

The filmmakers and actors who are scheduled to screen their movies at DCSAFF, to be held from September 12 to 14, include Prakash Jha, Manoj Bajpayee, Nandita Das and Nagesh Kunkunoor from India, and Ismail Jilani and Iram Parveen Bilal from Pakistan.

This year, the festival will see 16 feature films and 12 short films being screened.  The opening night film is ‘Club 60’, which is also a tribute to the late Farooq Shaikh. There will be a retrospective of Prakash Jha’s films, and as ‘Center piece special’ Nagesh Kunkunoor’s film Laxmi will be screened.

A still from Prakash Jha's movie Satyagraha
A still from Prakash Jha’s movie Satyagraha

The ‘Center Piece Unique Presentation’ this year is Nandita Das’ ‘Between the Lines’. The Closing Night Awards and Celebrations movie is ‘Brahmin Bulls’ starring Sendhil Ramamirthy, and stand-up comedian Dan Nainan, both of whom are expected to attend.

Jha is well-known for socio-political movies such as Satyagraha, Rajneeti and Gangajaal.

Bajpayee and Das have built huge reputations with roles in a number of critically acclaimed movies. Das, who captured attention with her stunning performances in Water, Fire and Bawander, recently made her directorial debut with Firaaq.

Jilani will screen his movie Chambili and Bilal will showcase Josh.

Sendhil Ramamurthy, who has appeared in Heroes, The Office, Beauty and the Beast and Greys Anatomy, will give the festival Indian American presence.

Another actor who will attend DCSAFF is Vega Tamotia, who is known for her role in Chittagong and House Full.

The independent films that DCSAFF screens provide “a reflection of what is going in our society, the truth, and they invoke emotions for a dialogue so we can find a solution for a better tomorrow,” Manoj Singh, the executive director of the festival, said. “The reality is that some of these independent films due to money and marketability challenges never get a proper release and DCSAFF provide a platform for them to show case their films to an international audience.”

He said unlike the “masala” movies that are the staple of various South Asian film industries, these independent movies trigger debate that important to the community and society. “In general most South Asians know of and watch mostly commercial films with dance, music, fantasy, so called “masala” films, nothing wrong with it, but they do not reflect challenging and honest issues of our society,” he said.

Singh, who hosts a talk show on the local network MHZ called Chit Chat with Manoj, said his mission is “to bring awareness about every day challenges we face in our society. It is the spirit of ‘giving back to society’ through something I am passionate about is very satisfying in spite of the hard work and financial challenges.”

He added: “DCSAFF provides an opportunity for local and first time film makers to show their work. In the future I would like to associate ourselves with film schools and will like to see more participation of students and faculty.  Another thing I would like to do from next year is start a Film Bazaar session, where distributors can come and provide an opportunity for the films to be released in North American market. ”

The festivals will also see two workshops, one on “Film Making and Distribution of Independent Films” by directors Iram Parveen Bilal and Mahesh Pailoor, on September 13.  The other workshop will be on “Acting in Films” by actor Omi Vaidya, on September 14. There will also be a panel discussion on “Social Responsibility of Film Makers” and “Challenges of acting in India vs. USA”.

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