- He takes over from founder Shilen Amin, who will step down as president but will remain a member of the festival’s board of directors.
The New York South Asian International Film Festival (SAIFF) has appointed filmmaker and entrepreneur Chayan Sarkar as its new president, effective Oct. 17. Also founder of the Indian International Film Festival of Queensland in Australia, he takes over from SAIFF founder Shilen Amin, “who will step down as president, but will remain a member of the festival’s board of directors,” Variety reported.
Sarkar joins SAIFF as the festival enters its 19th year as a leading film festival in the U.S. for new cinema from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal, and within the Indian diaspora. In his new role, he will “lead the festival and act as chair of the organization’s board of directors.” Additionally, he will “contribute to this year’s festival programming, with the support of Galen Rosenthal, SAIFF’s former program director and current programming chair,” Variety said.
This year’s edition of SAIFF will take place from Dec. 7-11, with screenings presented both online and in-person for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
In a statement, Amin said he’s “thrilled to welcome” Sarkar, who is an “immensely talented, experienced and thoughtful film executive.” He said he “looks forward to supporting him as he carries out his long-term vision for the organization, growing the festival’s impact and continuing to nurture ties between South Asian filmmakers and the film industry in the U.S. and internationally.”
Sarkar said the new role is “a huge responsibility” as well as “a unique opportunity for me to recognize and nurture talented filmmakers of South Asian background and beyond in New York City, promoting quality content with a strong focus on diversity.”
According to the Variety report, “Amin plans to launch a new film sales and distribution company with a focus on South Asian cinema.” The company, which will launch later this year, “aims to distribute up to six films per year, both theatrically and via streaming and other ancillary platforms,” Variety said. “He will source projects through festivals and his extensive network of film industry contacts across India and South Asia.”
(Top photo, Chayan Sarkar and Nandana Sen at Cannes Film Festival in an undated photo.)