In an age when the United States prides itself on diversity but is plagued with racism, it’s important to support arts from all different cultures. Opportunities to do just this are everywhere, as long as we keep an eye out for them.
The 12th annual Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival will screen a medley of internationally acclaimed films in various theaters around Pittsburgh from Sept. 16 to 24. Pitt students get into the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium venue for free, and only have to pay $5 — half the price of a normal ticket — to attend a screening at any of the other venues.
The festival screens 30 feature-length films from many different countries including Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, South Korea, India and Japan to both celebrate and increase awareness of Asian arts in the Pittsburgh area.
And don’t worry if you’re monolingual or don’t know Tamil, Mandarin, Japanese or any other language spoken in the films — each movie includes subtitles in English to bridge the gap between cultures.
Here’s a selection of what will be screening at Frick Fine Arts Building and other venues around Pittsburgh starting next Friday.
After its debut in India in 2016, the 97-minute thriller was shown at both the All India International Film Festival of Hyderabad and the 2017 New York Indian Film Festival. The film — directed by Jagadeesan Subu — starts with a pimp investigating the disappearance of his most popular prostitute, and then switches to the story of a transgender woman coming out to a lifelong friend for the first time. The two story lines — told in Tamil — converge into a compelling tale that explores prostitution as well as problems plaguing members of the LGBTQ+ community. The film will screen Sept. 17 at 6:45 p.m. in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium and again at Melwood Screening Room on Sept. 23 at 4:15 p.m.
Released in 2017, this Japanese drama directed by Naoko Ogigami tells the story of a forsaken girl who finds solace in her uncle and his transgender partner. The 127-minute film features Japanese actors Toma Ikuta, Eiko Koike and Kenta Kiritan and won the Teddy Jury award at the Berlin International Film Festival. “Close-Knit” will screen at Melwood Screening Room on Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. and again on Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.
Directed by Johnny Ma and released in 2016, this 80-minute thriller/crime uncovers a myriad of social injustices in modern day China. The Chinese film — screened at the Denver International Film Festival — features actors Chen Gang, Nai An and Wang Hongwei and tells the tale of a taxi driver who hit a motorcyclist and loses almost everything he has in order to pay for the man’s hospital bills. This story about survival as a poor man in today’s China will screen at the Harris Theater Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sept. 23 in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.
This 2015 film — directed by Kohki Hasei — won two awards at the Venice Film Festival and will screen exclusively at the Harris Theater during its time in Pittsburgh. The 75-minute drama opens up a dialogue about neglected children in the Philippines with a story of a destitute child and her search for a mother. The film will screen on both Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. and Sept. 23 at 2 p.m.
A Death in the Gunj
This 110-minute thriller from India will be the opening night film, screening at the Harris Theater on Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. Award-winning actor Konkona Sen Sharma both directed and starred in the film, which debuted in 2016 and won the MasterCard Best Indian Female Filmmaker award at the Busan International Festival the same year. The coming-of-age film takes place in 1979 in the Indian town of McCluskieganj and tells the story of a young male dealing with the concept of masculinity — exploring both the struggle of finding one’s own personal identity as well as post-colonial societies finding their identities as a whole.
Synopses for the rest of the films that will be screened, as well as the festival schedule, can be found on the festival’s website.