Tasveer South Asian Film Festival Spices Up Seattle

Tasveer South Asian Film Festival (TSAFF) shines a light on its history, culture, and issues through film, storytelling, and discussion.

The largest South Asian film festival in the US, as well as the largest South Asian film festival in the world, the 12th annual TSAFF takes place from October 6-15th, over 10 days in five Puget Sound cities (Seattle, Bellevue, Bothell, Redmond, and Renton). It features 55 full-length & short films, world famous directors and actors, panel discussions, talks, and many other events. There are three world premieres, as well as many Seattle, US and North American premieres.

As always, the 2017 TSAFF presents thought-provoking and meaningful films and forums on South Asia and its diaspora, a dispersion of a people from their original homeland. Nearly 1.6 billion people are South Asian, from the countries of the Indian subcontinent. Over 20 million now live outside South Asia, scattered around the world.

Tasveer (meaning “picture” in Hindi/Urdu) was co-founded by Rita Meher and Farah Nousheen. Passionate about telling the stories of South Asians and dispelling stereotypes in the media post-9/11, the two happened to meet in Seattle in 2001. They joined together to inspire social change through thought-provoking South Asian films, art, and storytelling with a focus on issues of human rights and social justice. Within a few short months, TSAFF quickly became the platform to connect real South Asian stories with the local Seattle community.

Seeking to provide a counterpoint to the images and stories prevalent in main stream South Asia and Bollywood, the festival encourages an atmosphere of thoughtful dialogue and creative inquiry, where filmmakers and audiences engage in lively discussions, forums, and other collaborative interactive formats.

TSAFF uses films and discourse as tools to highlight marginalized communities, clarify misconceptions, and broaden perspectives. People can speak openly on issues of human rights and social/political/economic injustices which can lead to happier and healthier communities.

Nepal is the festival focus and the festival theme is “We Belong.” TSAFF 2017 also includes films–shorts, experimental films, documentaries, and narratives of any length–on themes related to South Asia in its entirety: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tibet, and the various diasporas across the world.

South Asian voices, often stifled by culture, community, fear, or stigma, are hesitant to share their truths aloud. TSAFF remains the only festival of its size to pair films from and about South Asia with a focus on human rights and social justice.

This year’s festival also addresses issues of race, class, caste, sexuality, and/or gender. TSAFF features world-famous directors and actors, including Aparna Sen and Mehreen Jabbar, as well as a number of filmmakers new to the game. You’ll experience animated love stories, powerful political statements, and moving depictions of children and adults facing and overcoming crises. TSAFF will also launch TasVR, its first Virtual Reality film experience.

Navin Awal "Bijuli Machine" TSAFF

Navin Awal “Bijuli Machine”

The opening night red-carpet gala celebrates the 2016 film, “Bijuli Machine,” at Seattle Art Museum. It tells the inspiring story of two scientists in a developing country in turmoil. With a focus on human curiosity and the pursuit of excellence, the film shows the power of thinking outside of the box, optimism, perseverance, and how excellence can be pursued against unfavorable odds.

Navin Awal, the film’s director, is expected to attend, as is the Nepali ambassador to the US. After the film, the Gala reception will feature food, drinks, music, and Nepali cultural performances.

Intended for aspiring filmmakers, the “Script to Screen” filmmaking workshop is a two-day master class with visiting Nepali filmmaker, Subarna Thapa at the Northwest Film Forum. His workshop will guide participants through the cinematic creative process–from the initial screenplay to the final product–allowing them to experience firsthand the various aspects of filmmaking.

The Centerpiece Gala on October 13th in the Regal Bella Bottega in Redmond screens “Sonata,” directed by Aparma Sen, who also stars in the film and will be in attendance.

Aparma Sen "Sonata" TSAFF

Aparma Sen “Sonata”

“Sonata” is the psychological exploration of three unmarried women, friends for many years, who confront their fears, hopes, and midlife crises one night in Mumbai–a professor, a banker and a journalist (Sen). Set in the recent, contemporary past, it shares their ups and downs and the men in their lives, but with a twist. It’s a subtle, cosmopolitan, contemporary, film on women and the uncertainties of life in an urban setting.

TSAFF closes with “Dobara Phi Se,” directed by Mehreen Jabbar. There will be an awards presentation and a reception with the filmmaker following the screening. This event takes place at the Carco Theater in Renton.

“Dobara Phir Se,” is the unlikely love story of two soulmates who just can’t seem to be in the right place at the right time for the right reasons. Hammad, an architect, falls for Zainab the first time he sees her on a ferry–little does he know that ‘love at first sight’ has a lot more in store for him than he bargained for. What follows is the story of a defiant relationship tested by time and circumstances. The journey teaches Hammad and Zainab that romance does not guarantee happiness, that relationships require unexpected sacrifices, and that love will find its own way if set free.

TSAFF hosts a diversity of events to celebrate and share South Asian culture and cinema, including award-winning films and trailers, panel discussions, cultural performances, Q&A discussions, visiting directors, actors, and comedians. For more information and the schedule, go to http://tsaff.tasveer.org.

The Tasveer South Asian Film Festal runs October 6-15, 2017 at a selection of venues throughout the Puget Sound area. Ticket prices vary: Opening Night Gala at Seattle Art Museum, $50 Regular and $40 SAM Member; Script to Screen Filmmaking Workshop Led By Subarna Thapa, October 10 & 11, 2017, 6pm to 10pm, Northwest Film Forum, $150 Registration Required; Film Screenings; $12 Regular, $10 Student/Senior (with ID), $10 Early Bird (through 9/30); Centerpiece Screening & Reception $25 Regular and $20 Early Bird; Closing Night (Screening+ Awards Ceremony) $25 Regular , $20 Student/Senior (with ID), Early Bird (through 9/30), Panels are FREE to attend. For more info, including the full schedule of events and venues, please visit http://tsaff.tasveer.org.



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Starla Smith

Starla Smith

Starla Smith is a career journalist, writing features for such publications as The New Yorker, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Daily News, The Des Moines Register, Vibe and a prize-winning Gannett Newspaper. She helped launch Theater Week Magazine and eventually became its publisher. As a regular contributor to Playbill, her interviews and photos were featured in Playbill and Playbill-on-line. Smith was featured in the New York Times "Style" section for her "Word Portraits," specialized tributes, speeches, and presentation profiles. And she covered theater and features for City Search, Digital City, and the Tena Duberry WOW! Radio show. She previously served as astrology guru for Out Magazine, and she hastens to assure her readers that "Starla" is indeed her real name.

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