Asian American Film Festival Kickoff
I was at the Regent Square Theater last night for the first-ever film shown at Pittsburgh's inaugural Asian American Film Festival: Shonali Bose's "Amu," an Indian film about the aftermath of the little-publicized 1984 riots that claimed the lives of over 3,000 Sikh citizens in India. Politically weighty and well-told, it was a fitting first word to lead off a film festival that gives a voice to the often-silent Asian culture in Pittsburgh. The director, producer and star were all on-hand for a highly-charged Q&A that followed, which was actually a plus, since a post-film discussion bereft of questions would have been far more embarrassing than one with too many.
Tonight, the festival's gala event took place at the 9 Over 9th Gallery downtown. Ethnic dancers, musicians and politicians shared the stage, superb food was offered up by dozens of local restaurants from Chinese to Indian and beyond, and DJ Bonics spun a blend of Asian fusion and hip-hop as the party wound on into the night. Personal highlight: KDKA's Sally Wiggin in a kimono. (Apologies if that was actually a sarong; I'm still learning.)
Want to see some of the films yourself? You've got another week left, including a major American debut of the controversial film "Water" by Indian-Canadian director Deepa Mehta on the festival's final day. Go get some culture; it's good for you.