Red Carpet Show Kicks Off South Asian Film Festival Weekend
The first annual Washington D.C. South Asian Film Festival had its opening night on Friday as fans got the chance to interact with many prominent Indian filmmakers, actors and actresses.
The filmmakers, actors and actresses walked across the red carpet one by one in colorful and elaborate traditional South Asian outfits, entering the reception hall where they mingled with fans of Indian cinema, posing for photos and talking about their work.
This was the scene at the sold-out opening night of the first annual Washington DC South Asian Film Festival, which runs from June 1 to June 3 at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville. The festival, run by Ceaser Productions and partnered with the New York Indian Film Festival, is a showcase of South Asian independent films for the Washington audience.
“New York has [a South Asian film festival],” Avnish Mehra, chief of publicity for the festival, said. “Chicago has one. They all have strong Indian populations. Why isn’t D.C. represented? We thought we could tap into the Indian audience here. They love to meet these people. It’s opening up a new kind of avenue, a new kind of entertainment.”
The festival opened with a red carpet photo-shoot of the Indian stars, followed by a reception where people got to meet their favorite filmmakers and actors. Festival goers were invited to a question and answer session and a screening of “Mammo,” a film directed by renowned Indian filmmaker Shyam Benegal, the first film of the festival’s three-piece retrospective of Benegal’s works.
“It’s a pleasure to have people revisit some of those films and to develop new audiences,” Benegal said.
The festival will show 26 films, including Saturday’s screening of Indian actress and writer Deepti Naval’s directorial debut film, “Do Paise Ki Dhoop, Chaar Aane Ki Baarish.” “Hum Dono,” one of the best-known works of Indian actor Dev Anand, will be shown Sunday as the closing film of the festival and as a tribute to Anand, who died in December. A question and answer session with his son, Suneil Anand, will follow the screening, according to Mehra.
An acting workshop with Indian actor Rajit Kapur, a directing workshop with Benegal and a book reading session also highlight the weekend’s activities.
“Overall the event is fantastic and I think this kind of platform is very much required for local artists,” Tejash Natali, a Baltimore actor, said. Natali acts as a Mumbai don in the film “9 Eleven.”
Despite the rain causing a delay, people were very impressed with the event. “It’s a great opportunity to see such great directors and actors in Indian cinema,” Anurag Gupta, a festival goer from Richmond, Va. said. “You get to see them in person, it’s such a great experience.”
For more information about the festival and to purchase tickets, visit their website at dcsaff.com.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled the name of the festivals chief publicity officer. We regret the error.