The Chicago South Asian Film Festival, presented by Zee Cinema, announced the winners of Jury and Audience Awards for Best Feature and Short Films of the 2015 Festival and presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to Ms. Sharmila Tagore, an Indian cinema icon, at the Festival Awards Cocktail Reception. Kamal Hans, Managing Director of Rasaka Theater and Director of the Indo-American Center, hosted the evening at Venue Six10 in downtown Chicago. The ceremony marked the inauguration of in-competition films for the sixth year of the Chicago South Asian Film Festival, presented by Zee Cinema, which presented over 40 independent Feature and Short Films over a span of 5 days.
The Jury Award for Best Feature Film was presented to “Kaaka Muttai (The Crow’s Egg)” (Director: M. Manikandan) / India/ CHICAGO PREMIERE further film details below
The Jury Award for Best Short Film was presented to “The Blue Sweater” (Director: Dhaneesh Jameson) /United States/ CHICAGO PREMIERE further film details below
The Audience Award – People’s Choice Award for Best Feature Film was presented to “Dukhtar (Daughter)” (Director: Afia Nathaniel) / Pakistan/ CHICAGO PREMIERE further film details below
The Audience Award – People’s Choice Award for Best Feature Film was presented to “Sundar” (Director: Rohan Kanawade) / India/ CHICAGO PREMIERE further film details below
The Chicago’s Choice Award for Best Short Film was presented to “The First Session” (Director: Ryan Logan) / United States/ CHICAGO PREMIERE further film details below
Legendary actress, Ms. Sharmila Tagore, was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to Indian cinema. The Consul General of India Dr. Ausaf Sayeed presented Ms. Tagore, who began her career in 1959 with Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sansar, her award. The renowned actress said “I want to thank the festival organizers for bringing me all the way from New Delhi to Chicago, it really has been worth it. Thank you for celebrating my moment in Hindi films. It has been a wonderful experience and I’m really grateful to have been a part of this industry. Being in the entertainment industry, I didn’t realize how films could give you an escape, transport you to somewhere else and can change the way you feel. We are a part of a beautiful profession and I’m glad that my children are a part of it as well. Thank you so much for this honor.”
Archana Jain, Festival Director of the 2015 Chicago South Asian Film Festival said “Since its first year in 2010, the Chicago South Asian Film Festival, presented by Zee Cinema, has endeavored to bring the richness of South Asian art, culture and cinema to Chicago. Our goal is to bring the magic of cinema to our beautiful city while creating a true bridge for cultural exchange. We’re honored to have a cultural icon like Ms. Sharmila Tagore in attendance this year along with the strongest lineup of films we’ve had since inception. We are amazed at the creativity, resourcefulness and vision of our 2015 talent and find great pride in providing them a strong platform.”
The Feature Films jury consisted of Dr. Madhuvanti Ghose (Alsdorf Associate Curator of Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan and Islamic Art at the Art Institute of Chicago), Sadia Uqaili (Independent Curator, Arts Administration Executive and Chief Creative Officer at Somerset Street) and Professor Anuradha Rana (Filmmaker and Professor of Cinema Production and Documentary Filmmaking at DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts).
The Short Films jury consisted of Narimon Safavi (Iranian-American entrepreneur and contributor and analyst for Worldview on WBEZ – Chicago Public Media), Arshad Khan (Director, Film Curator and Director of Canada’s largest South Asian film festival MISAFF) and Puja Mohindra (writer, actor and star of A Great Diveand Sh*t White Girls Say to Indian Girls)
The star-studded Gala evening also featured Chicago Premier of playwright Fawzia Mirza’s hilarious yet heart-breaking one-woman show ‘Me, My Mom and Sharmila.’ Acclaimed fashion designer Joy Mitra provided a preview of his India Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2016 Collection through his exhibit “Chitrahaar” reminiscent of Bollywood classics.
The 6th Chicago South Asian Film Festival kicked off on Wednesday, September 30th at Intuit Art Gallery with a tribute screening of Prashant Bhargava’s acclaimed film Patang. The official Opening Night of the Festival, Thursday October 1st, screened the Chicago Premiere of Avinash Arun’s Killa (The Fort) at Showplace ICON Theater. The Closing night of the Festival screened Satyajit Ray’s film Devi starring Ms. Sharmila Tagore on Monday October 5th at the Art Institute of Chicago. The Festival celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the longest running film in Indian cinema, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge at Showplace ICON Theater on Saturday, October 3rd. Q&A sessions for Feature and Short films included conversations with actors Kalki Koechlin (Margarita With A Straw), Shashank Arora (Titli), Shweta Tripathi (Haraamkhor) and conversations with Directors Ravi Kapoor (Miss India America), Rahul Dahiya who brought his film to Chicago as a World Premiere (G – A Wanton Heart), Harshavardhan Kulkarni (Hunterrr) and Afia Nathaniel (Dukhtar). Workshops were held at DePaul University and included ‘What makes a Festival Programmer love your film’, ‘Thriving as a minority in cinema’, and ‘Narrative traditions of Bollywood ‘ which was provided by Whistling Woods International Film School.
The 6th annual Chicago South Asian Film Festival was sponsored by Zee Cinema, Etihad & Jet Airways, The RM Group at JPMorgan, Hyatt Hotel Group, The Consul General of India, Xfinity, DePaul University and Tribeca Flashpoint College.
The Jury Award for Best Feature Film was presented to “Kaaka Muttai (The Crow’s Egg)” (Director: M. Manikandan) / India / Chicago Premiere – When a pizza parlor opens on their playground, two carefree slum boys are consumed by the desire to taste this new-fangled dish called ‘Pizza’. Realizing that one pizza costs more than their family’s monthly income, they begin to plot ways to earn more money inadvertently beginning an adventure that will involve the entire city.
The Jury Award for Best Short Film was presented to “The Blue Sweater” (Director: Dhaneesh Jameson) / United States/ Chicago Premiere – The Blue Sweater is the story of a promise made by a girl to her little brother Unni. She will knit him a sweater in his favorite color, blue, by the next full moon. On the following day Unni accidentally enters the forbidden forest and discovers something intriguing. The encounter in the forest has altered the fate of Unni’s little blue sweater, perhaps forever.
The People’s Choice Awards for Best Feature Film was presented to “Dukhtar (Daughter)” (Director: Afia Nathaniel) / Pakistan/ Chicago Premiere – In the mountains of Pakistan, a mother and her 10 year-old daughter flee their home on the eve of the girl’s marriage to a tribal leader. A deadly hunt for them begins.
The People’s Choice Awards for Best Feature Film was presented to “Sundar” (Director: Rohan Kanawade)/ India/ Chicago Premiere – Bangles, jhumkas, bindi, lipstick, blouse, sari and attitude to carry; Jayu walked in public and played dandiya during Navratri (nine days Hindu festival). Onlookers laughed and whistled mockingly. It was just another reason to make fun of him. He didn’t care, because it was his happiness, he was living. Until, he laid his eyes on his mother, who stood in between those onlookers. She beat him up before the entire neighborhood… It’s Navratri, again. Tonight is the last night. But this year, all he could do is look at others as they marched towards the dandiya ground, all dolled up.
The Chicago’s Choice Award for Best Short Film was presented to “The First Session” (Director: Ryan Logan) / United States/ Chicago Premiere – Two women attempt to repair their relationship with the help of an unconventional therapist and the healing power of the mango.
In-Competition Feature Films:
Chauranga (Four Colors): Directed by Bikas Mishra
Dukhtar (Daughter): Directed by Afia Nathaniel
G – A Wanton Heart: Directed by Rahul Dahiya
Haraamkhor (The Wretched): Directed by Shlok Sharma
Hunterrr: Directed by Harshavardhan Kulkarni
Kaaka Muttai (The Crow’s Egg): Directed by M. Manikandan
Killa (The Fort): Directed by Avinash Arun
Labour of Love: Directed by Aditya Vikram Sengupta
Miss India America: Directed by Ravi Kapoor
Titli (Butterfly): Directed by Kanu Behl
In-Competition Short Films:
The Blue Sweater: Directed by Dhaneesh Jameson
The First Session: Directed by Ryan Logan
From The Heart of Brahma: Directed by Carl Off
Go North: Directed by Vanita Shastry
Kahani: Directed by Sarthak Bhasin
Lunch Lady: Directed by Mansi Nirmal Jain
Peace: Directed by Hasan Najmabadi
Sundar: Directed by Rohan Kanawade
Vishal: Directed by Sumit Judge & Ralph Ortega