Highlights For The 2014 Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival

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For the ninth consecutive year, Silk Screen will host its annual Asian American Film Festival. From April 26th to May 4th, the event celebrates the Asian and Asian American experience through a wide variety of works representing countries such as China, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, and many more.

The festival kicks off on April 25th with an Opening Night Gala at the Rivers Club. The evening includes a VIP champagne reception, gourmet dinner, drinks, dessert, and live performances by Pittsburgh’s premier Asian dance and martial arts groups. Guests are invited to join a post-party DJ set by Pandemic Pete, who will spin a hybrid of traditional folk music and contemporary dance music from around the world. The gala begins at 6:30 p.m. VIP tickets are $150, $50 for late night tickets, and are available for purchase at the Silk Screen website.

The schedule begins with the opening night film Omar at Regent Square Theater. Directed by Hany Abu-Assad, the Oscar-nominated thriller follows Omar (Adam Bakri), a Palestinian baker who routinely climbs over the separation wall to meet up with his girl Nadja (Leem Lubany). By night, he’s ready to risk his life to strike at the Israeli military with his childhood friends Tarek (Eyad Hourani) and Amjad (Samer Bisharat). Arrested after the killing of an Israeli soldier and tricked into an admission of guilt by association, he agrees to work as an informant. So begins a dangerous game—is he playing his Israeli handler (Waleed F. Zuaiter) or will he really betray his cause? And who can he trust on either side? The screening begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. 

Hany Abu-Assad
Hany Abu-Assad
Hany Abu-Assad

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The roster includes Zinda Bhaag, Pakistan’s first Oscar entry in 50 years. Directed and written by Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi, the comedy/thriller follows three young men trying to escape the reality of their everyday lives through the use of unconventional methods. The journey that unfolds demonstrates an unfulfilled desire to achieve impossible feats, a yearning to prove themselves despite the hurdles placed before them, and an inescapable sense of melancholy that sets in when opportunities are dictated by forces beyond their control. Zinda Baag screens at Regent Square Theater. Showtimes are May 1st at 7 p.m. and May 3rd at 2 p.m. 

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The festival will also spotlight a number of films from South Korea, including the short film Cheong. The Berlinale selection tells the story of Hong, a little girl who becomes embarrassed of her blind father after other kids make fun of him. It isn’t until a new school mate with a strange accent arrives that Hong realizes it can be fun to be different from the crowd. Cheong will screen at the Melwood Screening Room on March 26th at  7 p.m. and March 28th at 9 p.m. after the Japanese anime film Garden of Words. It will also accompany the South Korean drama Touch of the Light on May 1st at 1:30 p.m. at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Earth Theater.

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Those looking for an Asian spin on an American classic should enjoy Unforgiven. In this Japanese remake of the 1992 Clint Eastwood western, Jubei Kamata (Ken Watanabe), who is on the side of the Edo shogunate government, kills many people. His name is infamous in Kyoto, but when the battle at Goryoukaku is about to be finished, Jubei disappears. A decade later, Jubei lives with his child in relative peace. He is barely able to make a living. Protecting his dead wife’s grave, Jubei has decided to never pick up a sword again, but due to poverty he has no choice but to become a bounty hunter. Unforgiven will screen at the Regent Square Theater. Showtimes are April 26th at 9:30 p.m. and April 28th at 7:30 p.m. 

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The Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival closes on May 4th with Mourning Recipe. Ryohei’s (Renji Ishibashi) wife suddenly passes away, leaving Ryohei without the strength to live. Two weeks after her death, a woman visits Ryohei and gives him a recipe which was left by his late wife. Meanwhile, Ryohei’s daughter Yuriko comes to visit him. Yuriko’s own marriage is about to end. Through the mother’s recipe for living happily, a family is able to overcome their personal wounds and move on with their lives. Mourning Recipe screens at 5 p.m. at the Regent Square Theater. Tickets are $15.

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Also included is the Filipino feature Norte, the End of History, the Australian wine documentary Red Obsession, the Hawaiian indie The Haumāna, and many more. See a complete film schedule on the Silk Screen website.

Screenings will take place at the Melwood Screening Room, the Regent Square Theater, the Warhol Museum, Waterworks Cinema, and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History‘s Earth Theater. Directions to the venues can be found on the festival website. Tickets are $20 for the opening night reception, and $15 for the closing film. Those interested can purchase a 4-pack of tickets for $30, or an 8-pack for $60 (does not include opening or closing films). Individual films are $10, $5 with a student ID.

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