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Reflections: Tasveer South Asian Film Festival

October 14, 2019

On October 4, the South Asia Center sponsored a symposium on ‘Filmmaking in New South Asia,’ as part of the 2019 Tasveer South Asian Film Festival. Moderated by Dr. Alka Kurian, the panel discussion featured Anand Patwardhan (Reason), Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam (The Sweet Requiem), Syed Muhammad Hassan Zaidi (Dunkey Following European Dreams) and Professor Tayyab Mahmud of Seattle University. The conversation pondered the relationship between politics and dissident cinema, the influence of digital modes of production and dissemination on South Asian filmmaking, and the responsibility of “documenting moments in a fast-changing world.” Panelists discussed their experiences creating films from a position of exile and shared stories of combatting targeted censorship inside and outside of South Asia.

The symposium was followed by a screening of The Sweet Requiem and a lively Q&A with filmmakers Tenzing Sonam and Ritu Sarin and actor Rabyoung Thonden Gyalkhang. You can check out the livestream here.

As TSAFF comes to a close, I’d like to extend gratitude for the volunteers, organizers, and sponsors who made Tasveer possible. This thoughtfully-curated 14-day festival highlighted diverse narratives from across South Asia and fostered a community space for laughter, reflection, and critical conversations beyond borders. On the final day of the festival, as producer Kamil Chima accepted the Archana Soy Audience Award for his film Laal Kabootar, he underscored the importance of Tasveer and organizations like it. “We come from a region of the world where we’ve drawn very short boundaries,” Chima said. “It’s very hard to navigate from one country to the other, and yet such film festivals allow us to each get a visa into Tibet, Pakistan, Nepal, the Maldives, India, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It’s a great opportunity for us to be able to enter spaces that, otherwise, we’re fighting much harder to enter.” Moving forward into the year, I hope we continue to move outside of our silos and engage with new voices, relationships, and perspectives that disrupt homogenous characterizations of South Asia.