The Chicago South Asian Film Festival ( CSAFF ), founded in 2010 and organized by the Chicago South Asian Arts Council, takes place this year. This festival, the largest of its kind in the Midwest, will present more than 70 films at the Showplace ICON Theater and Columbia College in downtown Chicago as well as AMC Oakbrook Center on Sept. 20-23.
The festival showcases films from nations across across South Asia, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, as well as the global South Asian diaspora. More than 100 artists, including notable filmmakers, directors and actors such as director Sarthak Dasgupta and actor Amrita Bagchi, will attend screenings and answer questions during the four-day event.
Jigar Shah, CSAFF's festival manager, said he is proud of this annual event's growth in breadth and scope, adding, "CSAFF has always been a front-runner in showcasing South Asian talent and independent cinema, but this year I'm excited to unveil ten world premieres, seven North American premieres, and eighteen films making their Chicago premiere."
These films depict issues and concerns important to South Asians around the globe, such as gender, sexuality, family, culture, religion, identity, immigration and belonging within the diasporic community. Shah, who wears many different hatsincluding artistic director, community leader, board member, and Bollywood choreographeris fervent about culture, arts and movies because he "wants to promote South Asian culture, talent and perspectives through films, art and discussions."
The festival this year contains some features that are relevant to the LGBT community, Shah noted, adding that, "This year we have an amazing lineup of LGBTQ films that I am very proud to present. One of the films is Monoganish. Both the director and the actor will be here attending the screening. Really good LGBTQ film. It shows the dynamite strength of two nontraditional couples. It's an amazing film."
Another LGBT film, Evening Shadows, is a story about a young gay man trying to come out to his mother in a small town. Shah points out that this film is particularly significant given the recent ruling on Section 377 in India.The British introduced that law into the Indian Penal Code in the 1860s to punish "unnatural" sexual acts; it was most often enforced in cases of consensual sex between men. On Sept. 6, the Supreme Court in India ruled to decriminalize consensual gay sex.
"It is a really good film," he said. "This just happened two days ago in India. It was a big day for the community. So Evening Shadows is important, considering the difficulty for people to come out in India."
Shah said that ultimately he hopes that CSAFF will "provide a platform to showcase talents that might otherwise be overlooked."
For details, locations and film schedule, see csaff.org/film-guide/ .