The DC South Asian Film Festival 2016 takes Washington DC by storm

Kicks off with film “Mi Amor”film-festival-washington-dc

Every year the DC film going audience gets to experience a unique treat. A treat which enables them not only to view films which have never been seen before or are difficult to find, but also interact with actors, technicians, and filmmakers who are behind these gems. Many of these talents are showcasing their work before an audience for the first time, whereas others are highly regarded and well known personalities.

So, what is it that brings audiences together cinematically and in person? It is the one and only DC South Asian Film Festival (DCSAFF) held annually in the Washington DC metropolitan area.

This year, the festival was held this past weekend from September 9-11 at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center (Montgomery College) in Rockville and AMC Rio Cinemas in Gaithersburg. This has been a work of passion by the dynamic duo and husband-wife team of Manoj and Geeta Singh, who initiated the festival back in 2012. The festival filled an interesting void in the DC area where, despite holding a vibrant South Asian population (comprising of residents who trace their roots to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal amongst many other nations), there had been no such festival to cater to DC cinegoers who value quality cinema. The DC audience had always shared a hunger for good films, a hunger which was finally satisfied when DCSAFF came into the picture.

On opening night on September 9, which featured a red carpet ceremony followed by a screening of the opening film, a packed audience thronged to Montgomery College to celebrate and kick off the 3 day festival. The red carpet began with a stunning fashion show, followed by an introduction of each film to be shown and its cast/filmmakers. Notable personalities who were in attendance on opening night included actor Rajit Kapur, actress Seema Biswas, actress Tanisha Mukherji, actor Shishir Sharma, actress Amna Ilyas, director Suman Ghosh, actress Palomi Ghosh, and director Jeffrey D. Brown. Actor Omi Vaidya was also in attendance during the weekend for a screening of the film The Mirror Game, in which he acted with actress Pooja Batra and Parvin Dabas.

Some of the other notable films shown during the festival include THRESHOLD (featuring Neena Gupta and Rajit Kapur), Sold, Chalk And Duster (featuring Juhi Chawla and Shabana Azmi), The Coffin Maker (featuring Naseeruddin Shah), Waiting (featuring Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin), Parched, Jeevan Haathi (featuring Naseeruddin Shah), Gardaab, Mah E Meer, Force Of Destiny, Nachom Ia Kumpasar, Unnamed and Kaagaz Ki Kashti (a splendid documentary on the legendary Ghazal singer Jagjit Singh).

One of the most important highlights of the festival has also been its showcasing of short films made by well-known filmmakers and featuring actors based in the DC area. This year, films such as Dalvinder Multani & Goldie Manocha’s Ek Ladki Ek Sapna, Manan Singh Katohora’s Margaret, Suneeta Misra’s Picture Perfect, and Vandana Narang’s The Girl On The Bridge are but some examples of the stellar works that are produced right here in our backyard.

In terms of the opening night film itself, Mi Amor, it was an interesting piece looking at the relationship between a husband and wife, caught in the throes of a boring marriage. Although nothing seems to be the problem in their relationship – both have good jobs, live comfortably, have a wonderful son, are kind to each other – both still seek something more. When the husband is coaxed by a colleague to try an online website that encourages cheating, things take an interesting twist when he discovers who his match is. Who is the person that the husband gets paired with? What implications does this have for his relationship with his wife? All this and more is revealed in the film.

The film is tight at 85 minutes, and features stellar performances by leading actors Parambrata Chatterjee and Raima Sen, who carry the film entirely on their shoulders. The script and direction by Suman Ghosh is novel in that the film not only draws very natural performances, but gives a new meaning to infidelity and how it pans out. Additionally, the film’s focus on social media makes it a highly relevant representation of relationships today. Special kudos to the cinematographer for capturing the exquisite beauty of Miami.

It is incredible films like this that one gets to see at DCSAFF. The festival is an event not to be missed and audiences now wait with bated breath for DCSAFF 2017.

For more information on DCSAFF please visit

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