With 30 films from 18 countries, the 10th annual Silk Screen Film festival opens in Pittsburgh Thursday with an opening night gala followed by 10 days of screenings and discussions. All of the films have Asian roots.
“Asia is defined like it used to be defined when you were in high school, which is starting with Turkey all the way to Japan,” said Silk Screen Executive Director Harish Saluja. “That includes Israel and India and Afghanistan and Pakistan … In fact our opening film this year is called Theeb which is from Jordan and UAE (United Arab Emirates).”
A list of the films can be found at the Silk Screen website.
The films will be shone on three screens; the Regent Square Theater and the Melwood Theater and Melwood screening room in Oakland.
In past years, the festival has seen audiences that are about 80 percent non-Asian, according to Saluja.
“Our target is everyone, although Asians of course would appreciate it, because you see, Asians don’t need me to show them Asian culture,” said Saluja, who thinks anyone interested in learning about the world would be interested in the films.
Since the first festival Silk Screen has expanded beyond movies. Saluja says it now serves as the gateway for all things related to Asian culture.
“We found that there was a need for more Asian cultural activities,” Saluja said. “We are the one umbrella organization which hosts and produces various Asian cultural things.”
That includes the creation of a band that combines traditional Asian sounds with the Pittsburgh Jazz tradition.
Saluja recently traveled to China for a film festival and has begun to build ties that he hopes result in a stronger cultural exchange. He has brought several representative of the Chinese film industry to Pittsburgh for the Silk Screen Festival and he hopes to duplicate this fest in a city in China.
“So we are trying to make Pittsburgh as their entry point,” Saluja said.