DC South Asian Film Festival brings star power to independent cinema

The South Asian Film festival featured a stellar list of stars, including yesteryear Bollywood star Zeenat Aman.

The South Asian Film festival featured a stellar list of stars, including yesteryear Bollywood star Zeenat Aman.

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Award-winning Indian actress Zeenat Aman was the headliner at the sixth annual South Asian Film Festival. Aman, who was a prolific film star in the 70s and 80s, was one of many stars featured in the three-day festival held in Washington, D.C.

The 66-year-old starred in a plethora of films, including Hare Rama Hare Krishna in 1971, Yaadon Ki Baaraat in 1973, Warrant in 1975, Satyam Shivam Sundaram and Don in 1978, Insaaf Ka Tarazu, Qurbani and Dostana in 1980 and Lawaaris in 1981.

“I have worked in about 80 films as a main female protagonist and in about 8-10 others where I have played important character parts,” she said at an opening kickoff event for the Festival.

Attracting some of the best and brightest from the world of art cinema, the three-day event is organized by Manoj and Geeta Singh.  Acclaimed guests included: Aman, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, Delegate Aruna Miller (now running for Congress in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District), directors Anant Mahadevan, Vinay Pujara, Indira Somani, Azaan Khan, Mehreen Jabbar, Harjant Gill, and local artists Meera Narasimhan and Rajiv Paul, who served as emcees.

Oscar Winning Director and Producer Jeffrey D. Brown (Sold, 2016; Molly’s Pilgrim, 1985 – Oscar, Best Short Film, Live Action; Dream with the Fishes, 1997 plus TV shows such as L.A. Law and The Wonder Years) praised the event in a statement on the event website: “DCSAFF was amazing!  The films, the community and the love we felt was profound and nourishing for the soul.”

Geeta Singh remarked how the event gives considerable prominence to women-centric films, those which highlight issues affecting women and girls such as Deepa Mehta’s documentary, Anatomy of Violence.

There is also a charitable component, with appearing directors supporting a non-profit organization which helps victims of domestic violence in the South Asian community.

Held on Montgomery College’s Rockville campus, the event boasted a wide variety of independent films.

Well respected director, Anant Mahadevan talked with attendees at the opening gala. His film, Doctor Rakhmabai (120 minutes, Marathi with English subtitles), about India’s first practicing woman doctor was screened at the event. Other films included a trilogy of films starring Adil Hussain — Hotel Salvation, The Violin Player and Mantra; Punjabi films — The Black Prince by Kavi Raz, starring renowned actress Shabana Azmi and singer Satinder Sartaaj, Moh Dia Tandhaa directed by Priyanka Gill, Sent Away Boys by Harjant Gill; works of Pakistani independent cinema – Lala Begum by Mehreen Jabbar, Saawan by Farhan Alam, and the 100 Steps documentary by Shahnawaz Zalli.

The festival also included several selections by U.S.-based filmmakers: Clash of Morality directed by Vinay Pujara; Five O’Clock Shadow; Birds in Flight; Surrogate; Stalking Shadows; The Valley and Bretton Place.

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