November 3-20, 2022 the Tasveer South Asian Film Festival (TSAFF) was held in Seattle, Washington after a 3 year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first TSAFF was organized in 2001, with 2022 marking 21 years since its inception. The mission of Tasveer is to inspire social change through thought-provoking South Asian films, art and storytelling.
The festival organizers explain the aim of the festival is to “create a lively, stimulating and focused environment for conversation, education and an exploration of issues that face South Asia and its Diaspora".
This year, TSAFF featured a record number of films (the festival screened films from 17 countries in 15 languages) compared to previous years. The program included a series of film screenings, panel discussions, workshops, and cultural programming that provided a space for audiences to engage in discussions about the issues the films showed.
Featured films presented stories that challenge the status quo and raise awareness. For example, the Grand Jury Prize winner for Best Narrative, Faraz Ali’s, Shoebox, showed the feminist exploration of the decline of public goods and loss of values as the main character and her family faces challenges to keep their traditional theater running when their hometown Allahabad adopts a new name, and the community’s history starts to get lost in the change.
Elizabeth D. Costa’s, Bangla Surf Girls, presented the multiple layers of challenges women athletes face and told the inspirational story of young women surfers in Bangladesh.
The Forbes magazine highlighted The Round Lake, a short film from Pakistan. The short film highlights issues of water scarcity and tells a story of two sisters desperately in search of water to keep themselves and their families alive in the year 2030.
Attendees highlighted the question and answers sessions after each screening with the filmmakers provided an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the films and the ideas the filmmakers aimed to shed light on.
One of the festival's aims is to create a safe space for underrepresented communities, while highlighting diversity and relatability. The organizers stated that they aimed to challenge the community to increase their understanding of the cultural, social, economic, and political context not only in the South Asian community, but also issues relevant here in the United States and in other parts of the world.
This year also marked the 3rd year for the TSAFF to grant funds with support from Netflix aimed to empower South Asian filmmakers. The fund is intended to support projects that bring ideas into film for the next year and provide resources and mentorship access. This year the grant awarded $10,000 for narrative short, LGBTQIA+ Narrative Short, and $15,000 for Documentary, and Narrative Feature.
Since it was the first in-person TSAFF since the beginning of the pandemic, the festival was a long-awaited event that empowered South Asian filmmakers to bring their scripts to life.
Dolgorjav Jigmedsenge is a participant in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington DC. She recently obtained her MPS degree at Cornell University with a minor in International Development and Development Economics