Ramesh Soparwala

CHICAGO: The Chicago South Asian Film Festival (CSAFF) to be held between September 25th to October 2nd, 2021 is the largest of its kind in the Midwest and  it will present over 90+ films in a hybrid format virtually and physically

The screening will be in Downtown Chicago @ the Showplace ICON Theater.  The festival will begin with the Red-Carpet Opening night hosted at Showplace ICON Theater. Films from across South Asia will be featured showcasing a variety of regional languages.

A carefully curated collection of independent films, shorts, documentaries, events, and discussions will create thisweeklongfestival experience. “This year’s festival will include some very special artists, panel discussions, moderated Q&A and several major upcoming film releases. I’m also thrilled to welcome Ketki Parikh as the new President of CSAFF” said Jigar Shah, CSAFF Festival Director.

CSFThis year’s festival features 23+ world premieres, 16+ North American premieres and 60+ films debuting their Chicago premiere.  CSAFF’s opening night and world premiere will be “EkDuaa”, starring Esha Deol; a powerful movie showing the discrimination that occurs with gender dynamics.  Short music video “Ae Savere” starring SoniRazdan and Taha Shah takes you on a musical journey of an untold story of a Kashmiri Pandit (priest) woman. The talented and beautiful actor Pooja Batra will be in attendance to walk the red carpet and speak to her film “Padmavyuha” with director Raj Krishna.

Films opening for the first time in the United States include “One-way Glass” from United Kingdom which is the story of a migrant Pakistani woman trapped in a violent, sexless, loveless marriage.  “Zero Kilometer” by Shamas Nawab Siddiqui displays the journey of a woman. Indrani Ray’s films “Love in the times of Corona” shows one lockdown, three women and three empowering stories featuring Natasha Rastogi, Shibani Dandekar, Dipannita Sharma, Adil Hussain, and Shekhar Ravjiani.  Illustrious actors such as Pankaj Tripathi with his film “Laali “and Vipin Sharma with “Naap and Missing”, other films such as “Unwoven threads of Kashi”, “Midnight Delhi”, “Sand & Snow”, “Conception”, “Koko”, “When the music changes” will make its way to Chicago.

CSAFF announced that “Samanantar” (The Parallel) by Niraj Kumar Mishra has been chosen by OSCARS & BAFTA Award Winner RESUL POOKUTTY (Slumdog Millionaire). Our Centerpiece film is “Americanish”by Iman Zawahry, one of the first hijabi American-Muslim filmmakers in the nation, starring High Maintenance (HBO), Mr. Robot (USA) famed Aizzah Fatima who will be attending in person, The Society (Netflix), Madame Secretary (CBS) famed Salena Qureshi, The Big Sick, Brown Nation (Netflix) famed Shenaz Treasury, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Monsoon Wedding famed Lillete Dubey, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (NBC) famed Kapil Talwalkar and many other renowned artists.

The Festival has an amazing collection of regional films as well such as “Searching for Happiness” by Suman Ghosh in Bengali language, “Myth of a Good Girl” a Tamil film starring Akshara Haasan and Usha Uthup, “Yesterday’s past” by Nila Madhab Panda, “Ghar Ka Pata” by MadhulikaJalali, “MonturMontoh” – Assamese film, “Blue Bird” -Kannada Film, “The Other side of the River” a Gujarati film and many more.

“Sheer Qorma” by Faraz Arif Ansari has won worldwide awards starring legendary actor Shabana Azmi, Divya Dutta, Swara Bhasker, Jitin Gulati is a story of belonging, acceptance, identity, family, and how it all comes together under one roof as resilient, queer Muslim women and non-binary characters of color, choose to embrace love that exists beyond their personal beliefs and social moralities.

Other LGBTQ films such as “Sab Rab De Bande” by Sukhdeep Singh brings forth the various challenges that LGBTQ Sikhs grapple with and the different ways in which they reconcile their faith and gender/sexual identities. “Emergence: Out of the Shadows” is a film about three guys expressing their sexuality within conservative South Asian families. “Confusion” from Nepal talks about a woman seeking comfort in another woman.

The festival will begin with a spotlight on shorts like “Checking out” by popular Tiktok stars Vick Krishna and PiyaliSyam, “Shadows” by Ria Tobaccowala, Maya by Canadian film maker JacquileKambo, Mragendra Singh’s film “Sulochana” “Noor and Layla” by Fawzia Mirza, films like “Proof”, “Me/Her”, “Chasing Dreams”, “The Last Date”, “A Nickname”, “Upside Brown” showing various genres. This year festival is proud to introduce web series content “AkelaySath Mein” and local Chicago based web series “Chai Guys Comedy”.

Amazing Documentaries and films like Canadian film “Range of eMotion” is a story of a bodybuilder and personal trainer, “Ela– Breaking the Boundaries” by Swapna Kurup showing Ela Shah’s body of work spanning over four decades against the backdrop of personal stories starring Kal Penn.

Each session of shorts will conclude with a moderated Q&A discussion with filmmakers arriving from all over the globe. Our closing documentary film for the festival is “Shut up Sona” a film by Deepti Gupta featuring Sona Mohapatra is a film about a feisty female artist’s unrelenting fight for an equal space in modern day India.

View Festival additional details and the full film schedule here: https://www.csaff.org/wp-content/uploads/CSAFF-2021-Schedule.pdf

For additional information on CSAFF 2021, including screening times, locations, featured guests and ticketing details, please visit www.csaff.org or contact [email protected].

The Chicago South Asian Film Festival, dedicated to fostering a diverse cinematic experience through South Asian films, was founded in 2010 and is organized by the Chicago South Asian Arts Council Inc. The Festival is held in late September and includes a stellar selection of films and guests, panel discussions, opportunities for filmmakers and film lovers to connect, musical performances, tributes to major artists and galas. For more information, visithttp://www.csaff.org/.