Monday May 20, 2019

Chicago South Asian Film Festival 2015, celebrating South Asian cinema

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photo credit: archana jain

By Atul Mishra

photo credit: www.csaff.org
photo credit: www.csaff.org

Legacies are not created if they are not carried forward. A film festival is perhaps the best artistic endeavor to carry on the legacy of silver celluloid. Decades after decades, bewildering, subtle and robust masterpieces are made by visionary film makers. Few come out of the shadows, while the rest remain in obscurity. But that would be relating them to the ‘out there’ world of box office, audience and critics.

However, a film festival is beyond all these. It’s an exclusive amalgamation of reels and reals to give good films their due, it’s appreciating and celebrating them with a vision not just to watch the films one after the other but more importantly to showcase it as a learning experience while carrying forward the cinematic legacy, so that more artistic films come out of the shadows. The Chicago South Asian Film Festival which is scheduled this year for September 30 to October 5, is one such brilliant endeavor among many others that celebrate the films from South Asia.

Chicago South Asian Film Festival: An overview

The CSAFF, held in late September in downtown Chicago, screens artistic films and harbors film appreciation through panel discussions in an interactive approach; not to mention the awards in various categories and other extravaganzas like musicals.

This festival invites films from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. Recently films from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam have also been invited and showcased at the CSAFF.

CSAFF was founded in 2010 by the Chicago South Asian Arts Council, Inc. It’s an exclusive annual event supported by the Mayor of Chicago, Chicago Film Office, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the Consulate General of India, the Consulate General of Pakistan, Chicago Sister Cities: Delhi Committee, Evanston Public Library, the City of Evanston, Tribeca Flashpoint Film School, DePaul University, educational institutions and industry ambassadors. (Source: csaff.org)

The Aim

“The Festival creates an innovative cultural and cinematic experience for Chicagoans and visitors alike. Through the gift of film, the Chicago South Asian Film Festival invites all to share and enjoy the magic of cinema and true cultural exchange. The City is proud to host this extraordinary partnership between the South Asian community and the arts and entertainment industry.” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

So the CSAFF is a unique and stark step to create a cultural niche and diversity in Chicago through tie-ups with the South Asian communities and inviting films of that diaspora. It’s a celebration for the greater cultural advancement in Chicago by making film makers, movie buffs and movie goers come together on the same board.

This year’s highlights and few films in nutshell

On the first day i.e. September 30, ‘Kite (Patang)’ directed by Prashant Bhargav will be screened at the Intuit Art Center. This film which is yet to release in India stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui whose performance was highly praised by none other than Roger Ebert, the late great film critic.

kite

The festival catapults with excitement and aroma on October 1. This day is the official opening day of the festival, with the red carpet at Showplace ICON Theater. The Tribeca Flashpoint College on this day will host the screening of nine short films of diverse lingual background, from Malayalam to Punjabi. Winner of the Crystal Bear at 64th Berlin International Film Festival, highly praised ‘Killa’ shall be screened and then a Q/A session will follow with the director of the film Avinash Arun.

DDLJThe festival unfolds over four more days. The major highlights of these four days are- the screening of ‘Margarita With a Straw’ followed by a Q&A session on Skype with Kalki Koelchin on October 2, screening of ‘Haraamkhor (The Wretched)’ along with Q&A with Shweta Tripathi, celebration of the 20th anniversary of ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’ at Icon Theater, screening of the recently awarded at Melbourne Film Festival ‘Kaaka Muttai’ on October 4. The final day shall host the screening of Satyajit Ray’s ‘Devi’ — the closing film for the festival which would be later ornamented with a Q/A session with Sharmila Tagore.

(Credit: Archana Jain, Festival Director)

Next Story

Society Can’t Accept Negative Traits in Heroes, Says Nawazuddin Siddiqui

" I love doing challenging roles. With each film, I want to try something new. I hate doing roles in my comfort zone... I want to be a versatile actor. Now I look up to more new, different and challenging roles," he added

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Nawazuddin Plans To Start Farming NExt Month With His Brother. Flickr
Nawazuddin Plans To Start Farming NExt Month With His Brother. Flickr

Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui has been praised for his portrayal of Bal Thackeray in “Thackeray”, but the movie, based on late Shiv Sena supremo who had a controversial political career, has been slammed by some critics for being biased. The critically acclaimed actor says Indian audiences do not like to see the protagonist in shades of grey and that if only the negative side of the protagonist is reflected on the big screen, this will severly impact the box office.

Addressing the critical reviews of the film, Nawazuddin told IANS in a telephonic interview: “For the past 40-50 years, we have been continuously presenting our heroes in a good light. The audience does not like to see the protagonist with grey shades. If I portray the only negative side of the protagonist, then it will not run at the box office.”

“Our society is not ready to see the negative traits in the heroes. My previous films ‘Manto’ and ‘Raman Raghav 2.0’ did not perform well. I tried my best to present the characters in those films without any polishing, but with lukewarm responses… I realised that our audience is not ready to see our heroes with negative characteristics.”

Keeping aside the critical reviews of “Thackeray”, Nawazuddin Siddiqui is “overwhelmed” to get his first biggest opening movie to date as a solo lead. The film registered over Rs 6 crore on Day 1 of its release (January 25).

“I am overwhelmed with the responses and love which I am receiving from people. I am thankful to all of them. With ‘Thackeray’, I got my first biggest opening as the solo lead role. I am honoured and blessed that I got an opportunity to play Balasahebji on screen.”

But the 44-year-old also said he does not like “giving much attention to box office collections”.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui Buys A Plot To Farm. Flickr
Majority of society in a time warp: Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Flickr

“Honestly speaking, I don’t pay much heed to a film’s collection and numbers. But it is a weird place, many people judge films on the basis of the collection, no matter what the content is.

“So many films have been made in our industry in which actors have performed well, but the film did not do well in terms of collections…and then they got declared as flops. And there are also so many films in which actors didn’t perform well but the film turned out to be the biggest hit just because it collected a good amount at the box office…weird. So, in such scenarios I also can’t totally overlook the box office collection of the films.”

Talking about the film’s success, Nawazuddin Siddiqui said that “Thackeray” has motivated him to keep doing “challenging roles” in future projects.

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“It feels good that when your work is appreciated and now ‘Thackeray’ is doing so well, it is inspiring me to keep pushing my limits and do more challenging roles on screen.

“I love doing challenging roles. With each film, I want to try something new. I hate doing roles in my comfort zone… I want to be a versatile actor. Now I look up to more new, different and challenging roles,” he added. (IANS)