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The Diverse Representation Of Talent At The 4th Annual South Asian Film Festival Of America 2021 Is Worth Celebrating

The month-long event will amplify brown culture and creativity

By Gargi Agrawal  February 25th, 2021

Representation of brown talent across multiple disciplines has always been a topic of debate. From awards shows lacking diversity in their nominations to using equal representation solely as a gimmick, it’s a problem that is deeply ingrained—globally. Breaking the glass ceiling and creating a much needed conversation in the society about equal representation is the South Asian Film Festival Of America. Hosted and presented by Product Of Culture (POC) a women-of-colour founded and funded organisation dedicated to amplifying brown brands and voices, the film festival returns this year for its 4th edition. The South Asian Film Festival Of America not only showcases diversity, creativity and a multi-hyphenated identity but also places itself as a platform for South Asians across the globe to share their experiences and narratives in the form of films, web series, music and more.

The month-long, culture-forward fest will be held from Feb 27 till March 21 and will be entirely digitally for the first time ever. Nearly 70 projects will be shown, some of which will be followed up with a Q&A session with the cast and crew. All the films and series will feature and represent producers, directors, actors, and musical talent from different parts of the world—think countries like Bangladesh, Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, United Kingdom, and the United States of America. See the full schedule of the film screening selections here.

Swipe through for a look at some of the movies that are slated for an official screening at the festival:

South Asian Film Festival Of America

Definition Please

Directed by and starring Sujata Day, Definition Please will have its Los Angeles Premiere at the film festival. The narrative is a South Asian-American family dramedy which gives a glimpse into the life of Monica (Day) who struggles to get her life together as she deals with her father’s loss while taking care of her ailing mother.

Passage

Animated content enthusiasts, here’s something for you. Directed by Asavari Kumar, this short film narrates the story of an Indian girl who revisits her immigration journey. The plot? Her journey deals with memory, identity, belonging and the illusion of the American Dream.

South Asian Film Festival Of America

Dry Leaves

Dry Leaves narrates the story of Zahida (Samina Ahmed), who arrives at a home for the elderly thinking that her son who brought her there, will take her back after a short while. However, she ends up feeling lonely and abandoned in her new home. Upon meeting her roommate Farhat (Dr Durdana Butt), she thinks she has met someone to talk to and to give her hope. 

South Asian Film Festival Of America

Burner

Love thrillers? This movie is for you. Starring Kiri Naik, Britta Brandt and David Van Horn, the storyline follows an alternative solution given by a therapist to a woman who has attempted suicide. Will she be able to survive?

Samskara

Directed by Venk Potula and starring Aarti Mann, Shawn Singh and Rajiv Satyal, Samskara is a movie exploring unbreakable bonds. After the sudden death of their father, the two estranged Indian-American siblings must reconcile, as they hold an impromptu Hindu funeral.

South Asian Film Festival Of America

Blood Moon

Directed by Shruti Parekh and starring Megh Basu, Deepti Gupta, Amber Romero and Shawn Denegre-Vaught, Blood Moon is a coming-of-age short film on menstruation—a regular part of life rarely seen on screen. The movie celebrates the female relationships that build strength and solidarity through it all.

South Asian Film Festival Of America

Brahmin Bulls

Starring Roshan Seth and Sendhil Ramamurthy, Mahesh Pailoor’s Brahmin Bulls follows the story of a young man who reconnects with his estranged father in hope of reconciliation. While the father and son spend time, something from their past threatens to open old wounds.

South Asian Film Festival Of America

Miss India America

Want to watch a romcom with a refreshing twist? Turn to Miss India America. When Lilly (Tiya Sircar) plans to become a neurosurgeon and decides to live a happily ever after with her beau Karim (Kunal Sharma), she finds out that he’s in love with a beauty pageant queen. Lilly ends up competing with her for the Miss India title. 

Archana Jain, Founder and Executive Director of Product Of Culture (POC) shares, “With each year, we look forward to furthering the narrative of diaspora, immigrant South Asian creatives and culture in the United States, and eventually the world. History has repeatedly proven the importance of great storytelling and the influence it has on social movements, challenging cultural narratives and inspiring dialogue. Art makes culture approachable.”

The festival will be followed with a digital pop-up shop of South-Asian led brands and interactive pop-up events which will focus the spotlight on supporting minority-owned brands and small businesses. Another interesting addition to this line-up will be a hard-cover book featuring 110 artworks from the diaspora and immigrant South Asian artists from around the globe. This exclusive high-end art table book will be shipped globally and kept in stock for public and attendees to purchase. Now that’s what we call the right representation of diversity!

Photographs: Instagram, Shutterstock