Silk Screen Executive Director Harish Saluja has been growing the festival since its inception six years ago. This year the ten-day event features thirty-two films from nearly a dozen countries. Many of the screenings also include a lecture or question and answer session. “The biggest value which we can add is to have a person from that film be present and do a presentation or a question and answer,” said Saluja. The goal is to eventually have a speaker at every session but according to Saluja the budget simply will not allow it this year.
The films will be shown at the Melwood Screening Room, The Harris Theater and the Regent Square Theater. The final film will be shown at the Andy Warhol museum and an opening night gala is set for the William Penn Hotel.
An international jury chose the films with the only criteria being that the movie had to have Asian ties and be good. “It is difficult to define what a good film is,” said Saluja, but paraphrasing a well known Supreme Court ruling, he said, “I know one when I see one.”
“There is nothing like this for hundreds of miles so our hope is that this will bring focus to Pittsburgh as an international city and as a place where we do respect and honor diversity,” said Saluja. The group also sees this as both a short term and long term economic booster. Hotel nights and meal purchases by out of town attendees help the economy immediately according to Saluja but he sees a much bigger picture. “The road to the future goes through Asia. India and China cannot be ignored. We need to know about these countries, do business with them, learn about them,” said Saluja, “One of the things we are not doing enough is to have a cultural understanding of these countries.”
Silk Screen in recent years has branched out beyond the springtime festival. The group sponsors several other Asian-related film screenings and social events throughout the year and has plans to build an Asia Culture and Commerce Center.
A full list of films can be found on here.