Symposium on South Asian Film

Cultural Homogenization and Dissent in South Asia Panelists

For the third consecutive year the South Asia Center presented a one day symposium in conjunction with the Tasveer Seattle South Asia Film Festival.

Every year the festival focuses on a South Asian country. This year the Center’s Nepal Studies Initiative supported the festival’s focus on Nepal, with several films and directors from Nepal.

The overall theme of the October 10, 2017 symposium was

Boundaries and Belongings: Independent Film From South Asia

The films of all film makers who presented at the symposium were screened at the film festival.

Panels included Cultural Homogenization and Dissent in South Asia, whose panelists addressed issues such as the predominance of themes and styles from mainstream Indian (Bollywood) films across South Asia, the difficulties of working in styles not usually represented in popular cinema, and working in language other than the predominant Hindi  / Urdu. The panelists discussed how various social groups in South Asia, including non-Hindi speaking populations in India, and diverse groups in other South Asian countries, navigate the connections and contradictions of being enmeshed in global, regional and local cultural systems, and how their work reinforces particularity, or complicates ways in which these cultural groups address the relationship with these larger cultural structures. The panel included the film makers Navin Awal, Director of Bijulie Machine, Subarna Thapa, Director of The Shame, Chhora, and Sahasi Chori, and Akshay Singh, Director of Pinky Beauty Parlor, as well as panelists S. Charusheela, Associate Professor, UW Bothell, Nalini Iyer, Professor of English, Seattle University,  Sonora Jha, Professor of Communications, Seattle University, and Divya McMillin, Professor of Global Media Studies, UW Tacoma.

The second panel was on Decolonizing Sexuality in South Asia, which discussed the interactions between the film world and various social movements in South Asia such as anti-rape protests in India, Occupy Baluwatar in Nepal, #qandeelbaloch agitation in Pakistan, and the Support for Romana Monzur campaign in Bangladesh. The panel included film maker Poulomi Basu, Director of The Ritual of Exile, and panelists Shahnaz Khan, Professor, Global Studies and Women and Gender Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada; Ali Altaf Mian, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies, Seattle

South Asia and NSI Affiliate Faculty Member Pasang Sherpa Introducing the Nepal Panel

University and Alka Kurian, Senior Lecturer, UW Bothell.

Panels were followed in the afternoon and evening by screening of several films from Nepal, and a panel of local Nepali Americans who discussed the topics of the film as well as how they were received in Nepal. The films were Nepal Earthquake: Heroes, Survivors, and Miracles; Radio Melamchi 107.2; Maya’s Husk Husband andThe Knot.

The South Asia Center plan to continue this collaboration in upcoming years.