GAITHERSBURG, MD: Kadambari, a Bengali film that explores the suicide of Kadambari Devi, sister-in-law of Rabindranath Tagore, 132 years ago, won the Best Film award at the 4th Washington, DC, South Asian Film Festival, which concluded on September 28.
The film was directed by the National Award-winning filmmaker Suman Ghosh, who is an economics professor at Florida Atlantic University.
Chaitanya Tamhane won the Best Director award for Court, a Hindi and Marathi film, which is India’s official entry to the upcoming Academy Awards.
Kishor Kadam won the Best Actor award for his performance in Partu, while Konkona Sen Sharma was named the Best Actress for her role in Kadambari.
Rough Book was chosen as the film with the Best Story, and Bonjour ji was voted as the Best Short Film.
Legendary directed and actor Aparna Sen was honored with a Special Achievement Award. Sen’s film, Saari Raat, was screened on the opening night.
Pakistani filmmaker Huma Beg’s Veils and Walls won a Special Appreciation Award in the documentary category. Her compatriot Sarmad Khoosat was given a Special Award for her contribution to Pakistan TV and films.
In the audience award category, Partu was selected the Best Film and Billu’s Flight was chosen as the Best Short Film.
In all 14 features, 10 short films and one documentary from India, Pakistan, the United States and Canada were screened at the three-day festival. There were two workshops, one on acting and the other on script writing.
A number of directors, including Sen and Ghosh, attended the festival. Another notable presence was popular Bollywood and Bengali actress Riya Sen.
The three-day festival began on Friday night with a red carpet gala. It was inaugurated by well-known Indian American entrepreneur and philanthropist Frank Islam.
Speaking about the theme of this year’s festival, “Art and culture transcend boundaries,” Islam said “even though we live in a deeply divided world” and “unsettling times” — dominated by “wars, refugees, terrorism, hate crimes of all types, boundary disputes” — art and culture “elevate and unite all of us.”
He added: “The fact that we have with us today some of the finest collection of talents from India and Pakistan under one roof is proof that art and culture indeed transcend all the boundaries.”
The fourth edition of DCSAFF was a huge hit, the organizers told The American Bazaar. “This year there was more awareness about the film festival here in the US and in South Asian countries,” Executive Director Manoj Singh said. “We received emails, phone calls, and submissions from far out places.”
He added that most movies — Partu, Kadambari and Saari Raat to name few — and more non-South Asians came to see the movies. “Besides the movies, all enjoyed the South Asian Mini Bazaar, good food, clothing, jewelry, and Henna Artists,” he said.
Festival Director Sangeeta Anand said she received tremendous feedback about the event. “Every year we have heard from almost all our guests, including the very famous ones and not-so-famous ones, that they feel very welcome and well-taken care of and enjoy being with our team,” she said. “One director this year remarked that he has been to many festivals but has never felt so much warmth anywhere else. Not only guests but our audience has been full of praise at how everything was so well managed at and how much they loved it.”