When film buff Manoj Singh looked around the D.C. area, he saw many festivals celebrating movies, but none that focused on filmmakers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
“I think South Asian film festivals are lacking,” he said. “We have a lot of film festivals in D.C. ... but nothing was focused on South Asian (movies).”
Singh’s full-time career is in information technology, but his evening and weekend passion is for theater and film. He organized the Washington, D.C., South Asian Film Festival last year to meet like minds and stay current with what is going on in the South Asian film industry.
Singh said the festival provides a platform for showing art movies and award-winners that might not always reach a wide audience in the area.
This is the second year for the South Asian Film Festival. Singh said he expects about 4,000 to 5,000 people to attend. The theme for this year’s festival is: “Experience different cultures through films.”
Organizers have booked films from a wider range of countries within South Asia than they did last year, Singh said.
“Last year, most of the movies, I would say, were from India,” Singh said. “... This year, we are showing movies from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal (and) India. ... Within India, we have increased the number of languages.”
The movies will be shown with English subtitles. Other festival events include panel discussions, filmmaking workshops, an awards ceremony, and meet-and-greet events with some of the actors and directors behind the films.
He also wants to promote local talent by showing short films made by local South Asian filmmakers before feature-length films. “Sikh Kid to Kid,” a movie made by Sikh children and teens in Rockville to educate their peers about Sikhism, is scheduled to play on Saturday.
The festival takes place May 10 through 12, with most events scheduled for the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rockville. Some screenings are already sold out, but tickets for others are available online at dcsaff.com or at the door.