13th Annual CSAFF to feature over 80 films, over 125 filmmakers and artistes

The highlights of the Opening Night of the 13th CSAFF. Photo: Jigar Shah 

This year, the 13th Annual Chicago South Asian Film Festival (CSAFF) will take place from September 22 to 25 and will screen films in two distinct locations in Downtown Chicago—Film Row Columbia College and DePaul University, with Curtain Raisers taking place on September 16 and 17 at DePaul University. Over 125 filmmakers and artistes will be making their way to Chicago for this annual festival.

“A carefully-curated collection of independent films, shorts, documentaries, episodic, events, and discussions will create the four-day Festival experience this year,” says Jigar Shah, Festival Director of CSAFF. “At the 2022 CSAFF, we look forward to our in-competition sections for both Feature and Short Films in the Fiction and Documentary categories. As part of this, we are proud to host the illustrious Indian stars Yami Gautam Dhar and Rahul Khanna, esteemed director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, renowned Bangladeshi filmmaker Mostofa Sarwar Farooki and many more, who will be joining us on the Opening Night Red Carpet on September 23 at Columbia College.”


CSAFF’s mission is to further diversity and cultural education in Chicago so that young multicultural filmmakers and artistes can be given a strong platform to tell their stories and share their art. The festival, the largest of its kind in the Midwest, will present over 80 films in Downtown Chicago, at the Columbia Film Row in the South Loop, and at DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts in the loop. The Festival is proud to showcase 27 World Premieres, 23 US Premieres and 30+ Chicago Premieres.

“A carefully-curated collection of independent films, shorts, documentaries, episodic, events and discussions will create the four-day Festival experience this year” says Jigar Shah, Festival Director of CSAFF. The festival will open at the Columbia film Row, with a Red Carpet evening. Renowned talents such as Yami Gautam Dhar and Rahul Khanna from India, director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, Samiya Mumatz, Dananeer and Jugal Hansraj will walk the Red Carpet along with several other filmmakers and talent.

Additionally, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki will be recognized and presented with a SAFA Award, the South Asian Film Award for the contribution to cinema. The Opening Night will close with the World Premiere of the film Lost by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, whose previous film, Pink, with Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Paannu made a mark in Indian mainstream cinema and created discussions around women’s consent. The director has chosen to premiere his newest film Lost at CSAFF and gain response from Chicago as his first audiences. There will be a Q&A session with film team.

There will be a special mention of the documentary Barefoot Empress by filmmaker and Michelin star chef Vikas Khanna and Oscar-winning filmmaker Doug Roland. Opening Night will also screen the short film Gray by Sakshi Gurnani and Nikhil Taneja, starring actor Dia Mirza and Shreya Dhanwanthary.

On September 24, there will be the Centerpiece film, No Land’s Man, by Mostofa Sarwar Farooki and Shrihari Sathe, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Megan Mitchell and Eisha Chopra. CSAFF is also featuring the North America Premiere and Marquee film of the festival, Shiv Shastri Balboa followed by a Q&A with director Ajayan Venugopalan and actor Jugal Hansraj. The movie stars legendary actors Anupam Kher and Neena Gupta. CSAFF will also showcase a heart-touching short film, Perianayaki, which centers round the story of a Srilankan woman in New Zealand, by Bala Murali Shingade, and the feature film Four Samosas by Ravi Kapoor as the Closing Night film. This film’s team will also be present for a Q&A.

The Festival is also showcasing the World Premiere of the Marathi film Vaalvi by Paresh Mokashi, who will be in attendance for the Q&A. A Night of Knowing Nothing by Payal Kapadia, which won the Best Documentary at Cannes Film Festival in 2021, Awakash by Chittaranjan Giri, Manikbabur Megh (Cloud & the Man) by Abhinandan Banerjee, Nine Hills One Valley by Paoban Haoban, Powai by Kuldip Patel, Pedro by Natesh Hegde, Maali (Gardener) by Shiv Shetty and many others will also be screened.

The Festival has an amazing collection of films from Pakistan such as Fatima Jinnah by Danial Khan, Stay Tuned by Ali Ahmed and Dawa by Ariella Khan. It will showcase daring documentaries that will steer engaging conversation among the audience. There are several films and documentaries by upcoming women directors from Canada such as Marginalizing Minorities by Dipti Gupta, Women Beyond Bollywood by Rahila Bootwala and This Stained Dawn by Anam Abbas.

Other documentaries include Kicking Balls by Vijayeta Kumar, Humanity Our Race, Love Our Religion by Sonali Devnani and Kekee Manzil: House of Art, which centers around contemporary art movement in India by UK-based filmmaker Dilesh Korya. This documentary features Anish Kapoor, who is the architect behind Chicago bean at Millennium Park, renowned author Salman Rushdie and with music by Talvin Singh. Ma Comrade, a film from Nepal, will also be screened.

“We are thrilled about the lineup this year!” says Ketki Parikh, Founder & President of the festival. The Festival activities will be primarily centered in the city of Chicago, with short films such as Rising Lotus by Gurinder J. Singh, Now and Never by Kymberly Harris, Kiss by Masaan- and Sacred Games-fame Varun Grover, starring Adarsh Gourav and Swanand Kirkire, Bad Egg by Mehak Jamal, starring Zoya Hussain, Akshay Oberoi, Jim Sarbh and Sheeba Chaddha, The Way We Are by Nihit Bhave starring Manav Kaul and Amruta Subhash, Crossroads by Sarita Khurana, Embrace by Jacquile Kambo, Today is Wednesday, a film made during Covid by Pulkit Datta, Lohri by Virinder Singh Paul starring Jaskaran Singh, Invisible Brown Man by Pritesh Shah, Is this Mrs. Varma by Shawn Parikh and Harsh Mahadeshwar and many others.

CSAFF will also showcase local Chicago filmmakers and their films – Before After, Trek to the top, Propinquity, Ozona, the episodic Stuck in Reality and many others. it will be hosting a special LGBTQ+ section to amplify the voices of the queer and gay community with the films such as Coming out of the Time Machine featuring Karan Soni, Same Love, Pav Bhaji, Look like you etc.

Bully High, written and directed by Bill McAdams Jr., which centers on controversial issues of religious prejudices, sexual orientation, and bullying, is a coming-of-age drama is top-lined by an exciting young cast of Hollywood newcomers, Aneesha Madhok, Joseph Baena (son of Arnold Schwarzenegger) and many others.

Festival Director Jigar Shah. Photo: CSAFF

“We are so proud of the caliber of the films and the diversity we will be presenting this year, and it is so powerful to be able to showcase it in the theaters,” says Jigar Shah, Festival Director of CSAFF.

CSAFF will close September 25 with an awards ceremony for best feature and short films, as chosen by the audience. Through the festival there will be mini- events, discussions, the Filmmakers’ Lounge Series, Press Conferences and the CSAFF After-Party Bollywood night.

The Chicago South Asian Film Festival is dedicated to fostering a diverse cinematic experience through South Asian films. The Festival was founded in 2010 and is organized by the Chicago South Asian Arts Council Inc. It 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 artistes and galas.

In 2014, the Festival introduced the South Asian Films in America (SAFA) Award, honoring South Asian Films and Artistes exclusively in Chicago. Their audience is the largest-growing ethnic group in America, particularly Chicagoland, and the Festival is committed to providing a groundbreaking cinematic experience for filmmakers and moviegoers alike with the warmth and personal touch that is unique to Chicago.



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