The 12th Tasveer South Asian Film Festival focuses on Nepal this Yearby Yash Saboo October 21 2017, 8:52 pm
Tasveer is a non-profit film & art organization. Its mission is to inspire social change through thought-provoking South Asian films, art, and storytelling.
Farah Nousheen and Rita Meher founded Tasveer in March 2002 in Seattle, soon after 9/11/2001. Troubled by the stereotyped and highly prejudicial images of South Asians depicted in the mainstream media at that time, they sought to dispel those mischaracterizations by giving South Asians a chance to speak for themselves. They selected storytelling—specifically, through art and film—accompanied by community dialogue, as their method. Tasveer means picture in Hindi/Urdu.
Offering 18 feature films and 38 shorts from 11 countries, this year’s annual Tasveer South Asian Film Festival promises a myriad of mind-blowing movies.
Meher says, "This year at the Tasveer South Asian Film Festival, we take on the theme ‘We Belong’ and our country of focus is Nepal. #WeBelong here regardless of whether we are the third generation, second, first, or newly-arrived immigrants simply because this is where we live and experience our day-to-day lives".
She wishes to bridge communities in this tumultuous time, while at the same time emphasizes the importance of sharing diverse stories. She mentioned that most international film festivals only have a handful of South Asian films, and other South Asian film festivals tend to focus on India, which is why TSAFF is focusing on Nepal this year.
"#WeBelong is reflected throughout this year’s festival programming. This is our counter to the hate rhetoric as well as the xenophobic attacks on South Asians and people of colour in the country that have led to an unsettling fear among our communities. We hope to be part of the healing process when we come together, speak up, tell our own stories, and celebrate our South Asian solidarity", she adds.
While the festival is broad in its scope—love stories, sports movies, comedies—the organizers excel at highlighting films that explore prejudice, human rights, and the environment, and they’re quick to call out intolerant patterns in their own communities. They’ve featured many LGBTQ stories over the years and October’s lineup offers nine (the same number allotted to the official theme, Nepal).
Bijuli Machine directed by NavinAwal, an optimistic, coming-of-age story of young engineering students putting their minds together to solve important problems in their community. This was the spotlight film which touched on issues of class, access, and perseverance. ‘Bijuli’ is the word for electricity in Hindi, and other South Asian languages. The film itself was a very heart-warming tale of two Nepali boys in college trying to invent a machine that converts sound energy into electricity in order to help their community, which does not have reliable electricity access.
Tasveer was born during a similar wave of palpable hate after the attacks of 9/11. A platform was created to explore the experiences of immigrants, especially the struggle to belong. TSAFF has a special program that brings four films telling the stories of different struggles and triumphs in the quest to belong. The program and discussion after will serve as a much-needed vehicle to explore our personal and collective experiences as a community.
In an interview after the event, Meher spoke about the importance of communities speaking for themselves. “We really want to make sure our voices are projected out there,” Meher said. “Only we can tell our stories.”