2012 Silk Screen Asian Film Festival Wrap-Up
5/26/2012 Filed under Press Releases
Silk Screen Celebrates Film Festival Opening with a Colorful Multicultural Gala
By Merritt Wuchina/PR and Marketing Intern for Silk Screen
Silk Screen has pulled off an amazing night yet again. To open its Seventh Annual Asian American Film Festival, the organization hosted a diverse and colorful Gala on Friday, May 11 at the Rivers Club in Oxford Center. Nearly 500 guests were in attendance, many of them wearing ethnic dress such as Indian saris and sherwanis, Japanese kimonos and Chinese changshans.
Before heading over to the Gala, some guests started the night at the Harris Theater for an Opening Night screening of Luc Besson’s The Lady, a biopic about Burmese democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
This was the first year Silk Screen hosted the Gala at the Rivers Club, and many of the guests found the new space to be inviting and fun. As the night went on, new rooms opened up for different activities. Guests were first invited into a “screening room” to watch trailers from the festival’s lineup while enjoying popcorn, hors d'oeuvres and drinks.
In another room, guests bid on a variety of silent auction prizes, including passes to Pittsburgh museums, musical events and even a series of miniature paintings by Silk Screen’s Founder and Executive Director himself, Harish Saluja.
Saluja, an artist, filmmaker and entrepreneur, started Silk Screen as a 501(c) 3 nonprofit in 2005 in an effort to educate the Pittsburgh community about Asian and Asian American culture through the media arts. The hard work of Saluja, Operations Manager Katie Jones, Volunteer and Programming Coordinator Ruby Jain, and a small team of interns and volunteers, helped make the night a roaring success for its seventh year.
Later into the evening, guests were welcomed into a large dining room where they enjoyed food from restaurants such as Thai Cuisine, Wai Wai and Taj Mahal, as well as homemade Iranian basil wraps by Akram Kamrani. While they dined, guests watched performances by the Steel Dragon Lion Dance Team, Yanlai Dance Academy, the Pittsburgh Iranian Dance Group, and more. Between acts, WTAE anchor Sally Wiggin kept the night moving along as the Gala’s entertaining emcee.
A notable attendee was Manu Narayan, the star of Good Night, Good Morning, a US/Indian film about a romantic phone call between two strangers who meet in a hotel. The film is featured in this year’s festival lineup and will be followed by a Q&A with Narayan. The Pittsburgh-born actor, singer and musician, has acted in films such as The Love Guru and television shows such as The Sopranos and Law and Order: SVU.
“This festival gives glimpses into other cultures and I feel like it’s very important,” Narayan said.
The Gala and Festival also left an impression on Jeremiah Jackson, the Director of Diversity at Sewickley Academy.
"It’s for a tremendous cause,” Jackson said. “It really helps bring awareness of a lot of cultural things, a lot of issues that are happening in the world, and it just helps people come together in a unique and exciting way".
After guests enjoyed desserts and the winners of the silent auction grabbed their prizes, the dance floor opened up. Global Beats DJ Carla Leininger provided music ranging from Brazilian pop to Indian Bhangra.
With satisfied appetites and tired dancing feet, guests returned home to rest up and get ready for an eye and mind-opening week of diverse films from across the Middle East and Asia.