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Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival

A slate of more than two dozen recent Asian and Asian-American films

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Pittsburgh’s Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival, newly moved to September, returns for its 11th year, beginning Fri., Sept. 16, and running for 10 days. The festival will present more than two dozen films, recent features from Asia, the Middle East and the U.S., at several area venues. Below are some highlights of the festival’s offerings.

The opening night film, Halkawt Mustafa’s road comedy El Clasico, tells of two Kurdish little people who undertake a journey from Iraq to Spain to hopefully meet their idol, soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo. The film is Iraq’s entry for Best Foreign Film for the 2017 Academy Awards. It screens at 7 p.m., Fri., Sept. 16, at Regent Square, and the $20 ticket includes a reception with light refreshments.

Other films focused on the Middle East include: Nawara, an Egyptian domestic drama set against the recent political upheaval; Wednesday, May 9th, from Iran, and set in Tehran; and Radio Dreams, a comedy about a radio producer working to team up Metallica and an Afghan rock band.

With its own large film industry, India is well represented with nine films in the lineup. Choose from Island City, a comedic anthology of ordinary people in Mumbai; the white-collar crime thriller Moh Maya Money; or the 1978 Bollywood classic, Gaman. The closing-night film is Parched, a drama focused on ongoing sexism in rural India, and featuring the stories of four contemporary women.

The festival also includes features from Philippines, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Turkey and South Korea. From Kazakhstan comes Toll Bar, made for only $15,000, and adhering to the “Partisan Movement,” in which filmmakers strive for social realism while rejecting the trappings of conventional cinema. Zaaulan Poshanov’s drama contrasts two men, one wealthy, the other working class, whose lives intersect at a parking lot.

Two of the films offer LGBT perspectives. The drama Spa Night follows a closeted Korean-American teenager who gets a job at a traditional Korean spa and discovers a secret sexual subculture there; the film was shot in Los Angeles’ Koreantown. In Front Cover, an out Chinese-American stylist gets a work assignment with a visiting homophobic Chinese actor.

Films screen at Regent Square Theater, in Edgewood; Frick Fine Arts, Pitt campus, Oakland; McConomy Auditorium, CMU campus, Oakland; Carnegie Museum of Art, Oakland; Waterworks Cinema, Aspinwall; Cranberry Cinemas; and Melwood Screening Room, Oakland. Tickets for most screenings are $10, and there are discount passes for multiple screenings. For more information and the complete schedule, see www.silkscreenfestival.org.

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