Our mission is to celebrate diversity and multi-cultural appreciation of the Asian and Asian American experience through cultural events.
Silk Screen was created in June 2005 as a 501(c) 3 nonprofit media arts organization. Silk Screen's goals include educating communities about Asian and Asian American history, culture, experiences and issues, fostering understanding across lines of race, ethnicity, religion, age, and region, and sustaining growth and encouraging excellence in Asian American culture.
In May 2006, Silk Screen held its first annual Asian-American Film Festival. This was the first event of its kind in the Pittsburgh region. The Festival begins with an Opening Night Gala, where over 350 guests enjoyed performances and food from across Asia. The eight-day Festival showcased 22 films, drawing an audience of over 2,000 people. Ten actors and directors came to Pittsburgh to present their films and engaged with the public in various events during the Festival. National press coverage was achieved. The Wall Street Journal mentioned the efforts of Silk Screen in a complimentary way.
The second Asian-American Film Festival presented multiple showings of 20 films at 5 venues from May 11-20, 2007, and added a new element with three Asian music concerts: Suphala, a female tabla artist, Masyao Ishugure, one of the world's most accomplished koto players, and the Chinese ensemble Melody of Dragon. Once again the festival was very successful in achieving its goals, with great press coverage, a diverse and enthusiastic audience, and recognition from Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, the Indian Consul General, and the Japanese Ambassador to the United States.
In July of 2007 Silk Screen received the Work of Arts award from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. This award was in recognition for the partnership with Wall to Wall Studios a professional organization committed to aiding non-profits in branding success. Wall to Wall Studios was instrumental in creating the Silk Screen logo, brand, website and marketing materials.
The 2008 Silk Screen Asian Film Festival was an even larger success. Film attendance increased nearly 50% from 2000 to almost 3000. Youth attendees (ages 12-26) substantially increased from previous years. The 25 films shown from May 9-18, 2008 included award winning selections from: Toronto International, San Francisco International, Asia Pacific, Cannes, Berlin International, Sundance, Los Angeles and San Francisco Asian-American Film Festivals. New addition to the festival was the screening of Anime Film "5 Centimeters Per Second," by highly popular Makoto Shinkai. Silk Screen also introduced the RAGS Audience Choice Award presented to Richie Mehta for "Amal." Q&A sessions with filmmakers during the 2008 festival had great support. Filmmakers came to Pittsburgh from India, California, New York City and Canada for both opening and closing weekends. Silk Screen Festival hopes this opportunity will increase the potential for on-going filmmaking, sight scouting, recruitment of staff and development of relationships with Pittsburgh's growing film industry.
Despite the economic downturn of early 2009, Silk Screen maintained its momentum. As recommended by foundations and other sponsors the 2009 programming roster was reduced to fit within the means available. The film festival showed only 40 screenings and invited only 8 filmmakers for the festival. Due to the quality of films presented the average attendance per screening increased. Silk Screen continued to provide year round Asian arts & cultural programming. Events were often presented in collaboration with other Pittsburgh arts organizations such as: Children's Museum, Toonseum, Confuscius Institute, Winchester Thurston School, Asian Studies Center- University of Pittsburgh, Net-IP, Confucious Institute, Indian Nationality Room and others.
The 5th Annual Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival was held May 7-16, 2010.
Silk Screen featured 36 screening of films from Asia or by Asian American Films at 3 locations in Pittsburgh. The festival featured award winning entries from New York Asian Film Festival, San Francisco Asian Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival Hawaii International Film Festival and many other world renowned film events. Three of these had scheduled Question & Answer sessions for audience members with visiting filmmakers:
Joseph Mathew Varghese – director “Bombay Summer”
Samrat Chakrabarti- actor “Bombay Summer”
Gerry Balasta- director “The Mountain Thief”
Manu Narayan- actor Ami Sheth – actor
Silk Screen Festival Q&A sessions with visiting filmmakers increase the potential for on-going filmmaking, scouting, recruitment of staff and development of relationships with Pittsburgh’s growing film and entertainment market.
The average per screening attendance increased this year, despite a decrease in programming from previous years.
The 3nd annual People’s choice Award (Audience Award for best film), sponsored by the Rags Foundation went to “My Brand New Life”. This touching film from Korea about orphanages, multi-cultural adoption featuring stunning child actor Kim Sae-ron has been featured at Tribeca, Cleveland, Palm Springs festivals and won several awards before the Pittsburgh Premiere.
All visitors enjoyed their experience in Pittsburgh and look forward to returning for a bigger and better 2011 Silk Screen Festival May 6-15. Opportunities like this will grow and increase as Silk Screen year –round programming continues.