Pittsburgh’s Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival returns for its 12th year, beginning Sat., Sept. 16, and running for nine days. The festival will present more than two dozen films, recent features from Asia and the Middle East, at several area venues.
Below are reviews of some of the festival’s offerings.
LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA. Four women — a teen, a widow, a bride-to-be and a working mom — in Bhopal, India, push back against an assortment of strictures placed on them by a male-dominated society. In Alankrita Shrivastava’s dramedy, the women find breaking norms, taboos and even laws to be empowering, even if some victories are pyrrhic. An entertaining work that pulls no punches, and was controversial in India for its sexually explicit material. In Hindi, with subtitles. Noon, Sun., Sept. 17 (Harris); 8:30 p.m. Tue., Sept. 19 (Waterworks); and 4:15 p.m. Sun., Sept. 24 (Harris)
HARMONIUM. Koji Fukada’s drama recounts how the inclusion of a relative stranger into a family — a dad who runs a small metal shop, a religious mother and their 10-year-old daughter — causes catastrophic results. The work is a slow-burner, in which Fukada gradually reveals information, some of it shocking. Besides the disruption of the family unit, the work also explores loyalty, honor, perseverance and revenge. In Japanese, with subtitles. 7:30 p.m. Sun., Sept. 17 (Melwood) and 8 p.m. Thu., Sept. 21 (Frick)
OLD STONE. A taxi driver assumes the medical debts of the man he inadvertently hit, and the financial burden causes his life to collapse. Johnny Ma’s quiet but searing drama is clearly an allegory for how the director sees modern China, a place where abandoning community standards and disregarding the law in the pursuit of individual gain is paramount. The cabbie, who does the right thing, finds himself both a man out of time, and alone. In Mandarin, with subtitles. 6 p.m. Tue., Sept. 19 (Harris) and 7 p.m. Sat., Sept. 23 (Frick)
INVERSION. A medical situation proves to be the catalyst for one Iranian family’s tensions to erupt. When an elderly woman must leave Tehran because of its dangerous air pollution, her three adult children squabble over who will move to the country with her and have their lives disrupted. Unsurprisingly, the two men choose their sister, but she fights back. Behnam Behzadi’s drama illuminates this traditional domestic tension, which plays out even in a modern city of professional women. In Farsi, with subtitles. 8:45 p.m. Tue., Sept. 19, and 6:30 p.m. Sat., Sept. 23. Melwood
Films screen at Frick Fine Arts, Pitt campus, Oakland; Carnegie Museum of Art, Oakland; Waterworks Cinema, Aspinwall; Cranberry Cinemas; Harris Theater, Downtown; 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.__