The Tasveer South Asian Film Festival (TSAFF) is the largest South Asian film festival in the United States located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest city of Seattle in Washington State. It is produced by the powerhouse non-profit arts organisation, Tasveer, that serves as a platform for all things film, literature and art, within the South Asian experience.
We catch up with the dynamic Rita Meher, co-founder and Executive Director of Tasveer, for a conversation on Tasveer and what to expect at TSAFF, slated for November this year.
The Tasveer South Asian Film Festival (TSAFF) has been internationally lauded for the quality and excellence of the films showcased, as well as the dialogue they foster across and beyond the South Asian community. What’s in store for TSAFF this year?
TSAFF 2022 will continue to platform diverse South Asian experiences through exceptional films drawn from a multitude of languages, cultures and geographies. As Mira Nair, Director and Tasveer Alum says so succinctly, ‘Nothing is more powerful than seeing your own language, your own colours, your own people, and your own dramas on screen.’
Submissions are now open for TSAFF which will take place across a 10-day extravaganza from Nov 3rd-13th, 2022. It will feature the best in South Asian film, literature and storytelling in a hybrid festival. As always, Tasveer will amplify under represented South Asian voices, place a spotlight on South Asian artists, and create a safe space for dialogues within our communities.
Through a series of film screenings, panel discussions, workshops, and cultural programming, our goal is to involve audiences not just with the film and video works presented, but to create a prolonged space where the social, political, personal, and international issues that form the core subjects of those works can be discussed and understood.
We believe film can be a powerful medium to bridge ideas and communities and create deeper understanding through stories, in order to foster a happier and healthier world.
For festival details and submission (Regular deadline: July 15, Late deadline Sept 2, 2022):
Is there a focus on a particular kind of film or theme that you are looking to bring to the festival this year? Which countries are you accepting submissions from?
While we include a variety of unusual South Asian stories told well, we are particularly interested in films regarding representation, equity, climate change, LGBTQ issues and women’s rights. Our Festival Symposium this year will be organized around the theme of Kashmir, with artists, academics, and activists exploring social justice issues within the region.
We welcome films from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tibet, and its various diasporas across the world.
Tasveer as an organisation is now in its 20th year, and over time has come to be regarded as one of the most important platforms for South Asian voices. How did it all begin?
Soon after the 9/11 attacks in America, there was a rise in hate crimes against South Asians. At the time, Farah Nousheen and Rita Meher were disturbed by the stereotypical portrayal of South Asians in mainstream media.
Together, they decided to play a part in changing that myopic and damaging narrative and in March 2002 created Tasveer, a platform that would provide an expansive perspective into South Asian lives through art, film, and storytelling.
Over the years, Tasveer has evolved and grown into one of the largest platforms for a multitude of diverse voices that inspire social change. To illustrate, two years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic placed an unprecedented strain on the world and the arts community. In response to the crisis, Tasveer led the Coalition of South Asian Film Festivals (CoSAFF). CoSAFF was a first-of-its-kind event that brought together seven well-established South Asian institutions from across North America.
The virtual festival ran for 15 days, presenting online screenings of thought-provoking films & forums on South Asia and its diaspora, to engage viewers in dialogue on the issues of human rights, social/political/economic justice, and representation, garnering about 45,000 views.
Today we are thankful for the movement that Tasveer has become, the support we receive from filmmakers and audiences across the United States and internationally, as well sponsors and partners such as DuBois Cary Law Group and BECU.
Are there other initiatives that are underway at Tasveer at the moment, and what are some of your ongoing programs?
In addition to inviting submissions for TSAFF, Tasveer has also opened applications for their third annual Tasveer Film Fund program (TFF) which will now include two tracks: one for Short Films and one for Feature Films. TFF empowers South Asian filmmakers to bring unique, untold stories to life with production grants, as well as year-long support, resources, and mentorship.
With support from Netflix and as part of its Fund for Creative Equity initiative, the Tasveer Film Fund Shorts Films track will increase support for South Asian filmmakers developing short film projects, and up to $35,000 will be awarded in grants: Documentary projects ($15,000), Short Narrative projects ($10,000), and Short Narrative LGBTQI+ ($10,000).
For the first year, Tasveer will offer a Feature Film track with $15,000 in funding, available to South Asian filmmakers world-wide.
Some of our other initiatives are Community Speaks, Tasveer South Asian LitFest, Tasveer Open Mic, Tasveer Youth Collective, and TasveerTV.
What are some of the other ways for people to be involved with TSAFF?
We have been fortunate to have many passionate changemakers join us as volunteers. They are often involved in helping to program our film and literature content, assist with in-person and virtual events, take care of administrative and IT tasks as well get involved in fundraising and outreach activities.
We also provide a fantastic platform for sponsors, many of whom have been with us for years and their support has made many of our programs and initiatives possible. Interested sponsors can learn more here: https://tasveerfestival.org/sponsor/
All details on ways to get involved with TSAFF are available on https://tasveerfestival.org/