May 09--The Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival covers so much ground, crossing so many borders, that it's almost impossible to make generalizations about it.
There are movies from cinema powerhouses like India -- whose film industry is actually bigger in most respects than Hollywood -- and from places that are seldom heard from in any context like Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Georgia (the ex-Soviet state, not the one with Atlanta). There's also "Highway," a film from the remote, disputed territory of Nepal, and "Buzkashi Boys," an Academy Award nominee from war-torn Afghanistan.
The festival kicks off with perhaps Pittsburgh's most colorful (and tasty) party of the year, the Opening Night Gala on May 10. It's kind of the opposite of "black-tie" -- with saris, sarongs, kimonos and other ethnic dress in profusion -- and some of the city's top Asian restaurants doing the catering.
The opening night film is "Midnight's Children," based on a Salman Rushdie novel, from Deepa Mehta, one of India's most important and ambitious filmmakers, and one not bound by the usual cliches of "Bollywood."
The "Silk Scream" horror series has been folded into the main festival this year, and there's also an anime (Japanese-style animation) sidebar, featuring the acclaimed "Tatsumi," an unconventional animated biography of the revolutionary animator Yoshiro Tatsumi.
One curious digression this year is a film from Egypt, "Cairo 678." The festival committee reacted so strongly to the film that they decided to include it -- despite some geographic complications. A major theme of the Arab Spring revolutions and their aftermath is the culture of sexual harassment and rape, long ignored in many Middle Eastern states.
"This is about three women who are experiencing harassment," says Silk Screen founder and director Harish Saluja. "One in particular, every time she takes a bus, someone is touching her, groping her and so forth. She resorts to taking matters into her own hands. ... This is an issue all over Asia, especially in the Middle East and South Asia. It resonated so well, so we put it in. Let's hope no one complains too much that Egypt isn't part of Asia."
Michael Machosky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7901.
Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival
When: May 10-19
Admission: $10; $5 for students with ID (unless otherwise noted)
Opening Night Gala: 8:30 p.m. May 10, includes food from many local Asian restaurants, music, dancing, live entertainment. $100-$150. Rivers Club, Oxford Center, Downtown.
Details: www.silkscreenfestival.org or 412-322-4872
First week schedule
--"Valley of Saints" (India, USA), noon, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Oakland
--"Cha Cha For Twins" (Taiwan), 1:30 p.m., Regent Square Theater
--"The Guardian" (Georgia), 1:30 p.m. Melwood Screening Room, Oakland
--"Present Tense" (Turkey), 2:30 p.m., Carnegie Museum of Natural History
--Opening Film: "Midnight's Children," 4:30 p.m., Regent Square Theater
--"Buzkashi Boys" (Afghanistan)/"Beijing Flickers" (China), 4:30 p.m. Melwood Screening Room
--Silk Screen Horror Night presents "Nightmare" (China) 5:30 p.m., Melwood Classroom, Oakland
--"Key of Life" (Japan), 8 p.m., Melwood Screening Room
--"Pune 52" (India), 8:30 p.m., Regent Square Theater.
--Silk Screen Horror Night presents "The Sleepless" (South Korea), 8:30 p.m., Melwood Classroom
--"Sita Sings the Blues" (India), 12:30 p.m., Carnegie Museum of Natural History
--"Gattu" (India), 1 p.m., Regent Square Theater
--"The Perils of Growing Up Flat-chested" (USA)/"Two Shadows" (Cambodia), 2:30 p.m., Melwood Screening Room
--"Perizod" (Uzbekistan), 3 p.m., Carnegie Museum of Natural History
--"Kshay" (India), 4 p.m., Regent Square Theater
--Anime Night: "Tatsumi" (Singapore/Japan), 5 p.m., Melwood Classroom
--"Headshot" (Thailand/France), 5:45 p.m., Melwood Screening Room
--"Asura" (Japan), 7:30 p.m., Melwood Classroom
--"Modest Reception" (Iran), 5:30 p.m., Regent Square Theater
--"Foreign Letters" (USA/Israel/Vietnam), 6:30 p.m., Melwood Screening Room
--"B.A. Pass" (India), 8:45 p.m., Regent Square Theater
--"Beijing Flickers" (China), 9:10 p.m. Melwood Screening Room
--"Gattu" (India), 6 p.m., Regent Square Theater
--"The Thieves" (South Korea), 8:30 p.m., Regent Square Theater
--"Highway" (Nepal), 5:30 p.m., Melwood Screening Room
--"Chittagong" (Indonesia), 6 p.m., Regent Square Theater
--"Buzkashi Boys" (Afghanistan)/"Cairo 678" (Egypt), 8 p.m. Melwood Screening Room
--"The Empty Home" (Kyrgistan), 9 p.m., Regent Square Theater
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