For about 15 and a half years, Tasveer has worked to provide a platform for South Asians to voice concerns and share their stories and ideas.
The organization was co-founded by Rita Meher and Farah Nousheen about a year and a half after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. According to the Tasveer website, the two women were “troubled by the stereotyped and highly prejudicial images of South Asians depicted in the mainstream media at that time.” Tasveer was “a chance (for South Asians) to speak for themselves.”
One of the ways the organization does this is through film screenings throughout the year as well as its annual Tasveer South Asian Film Festival (TSAFF), which will be held Oct. 6-15 with Eastside film screenings in Bothell, Redmond and Bellevue. Other screenings will be held in Seattle and Renton. For a full schedule of film screenings and to purchase tickets, visit tasveer.org.
While the film festival started in 2004, it has only been the last few years that organizers have chosen to focus on one country as the festival’s theme for that year. Previous countries highlighted were Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. This year’s focus is on Nepal.
Kiran Dhillon, program director for the festival, said they decided to focus on a different country each year because a lot of films come out of India and they really wanted to showcase other countries.
She added that even as South Asians they still learn about the other countries that fall under that umbrella term.
Festival organizers chose Nepal this year because they wanted to check in with the country after the devastating earthquake in April 2015. Dhillon said the Nepalese film industry is active and they wanted to share the work coming out of it with the local community.
This year, TSAFF will feature 57 films, 18 features and 39 short films, representing 11 countries. Genres range from animated and comedy, to drama and documentary. This year’s film themes include the environment, immigration, sports, human rights and LGBTQ.
“It’s hard for me to pick just one (film to be excited about),” Dhillon said.
She added that they expect at least 20 filmmakers to attend the festival to discuss the whys and hows behind their respective films.
This year’s centerpiece gala will feature a screening of the film “Sonata.” The event will be Oct. 13 at Regal Bella Bottega, 8890 161st Ave. N.E. in Redmond. Aparna Sen, who directed and is one of the stars of the film, will be in attendance.
“She’s very popular,” Dhillon said.
In addition to the traditional feature and short films, Meher said they will have new virtual reality programming that they are calling TASVR. The four short virtual reality films that will be featured are all social-justice themed.
“We are very excited about that,” Meher said.
Something else she is looking forward to and excited about is the fact that the festival’s focus on one country each year allows them to connect with various local community organizations representing people from those countries. Meher said this year, at least six established Nepalese organizations will participate some way in the festival.
“They are super excited,” she said.
She added that initially, their connecting with these community organizations was just a way to get the word about about the festival. But what has come out of these groups’ involvement in the festival is that the organizations connect, come together and work together.
“That’s really heartwarming,” Meher said.