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Iman Zawahry’s ‘Americanish’ to Open 8th Annual Dallas/Fort Worth South Asian Film Festival

Iman Zawahry’s ‘Americanish’ to Open 8th Annual Dallas/Fort Worth South Asian Film Festival

  • The three-day event that kicked off with the screening of the digitally-restored 4K version of Mira Nair’s “Mississippi Masala,” will show 33 films, shorts, documentaries, and a TV series.

Iman Zawahry’s “Americanish,” a refreshing take on a rom-com, will open the 8th annual Dallas/Fort Worth South Asian Film Festival (DFW SAFF) , presented by Toyota Motor North America, this Friday, May 20. The opening night film will be preceded by Akanksha Cruczynski’s short film, “Close Ties to the Home Country,” about a millennial immigrant who is waiting to reunite with her sister after nine years.

“Americanish,” which takes place in the immigrant enclave of Jackson Heights in Queens, New York, follows sisters Sam and Maryan as they navigate work and romance under their mother’s protective eye, and their cousin, Ameera, who arrives to the U.S. wide-eyed and bushy-tailed to find a “nice Pakistani-American doctor” to marry.

According to the film’s synopsis, it “highlights different layers of womanhood as they intersect with cultural and societal expectations,” and “invites viewers into the home and lives of three marriage-aged women as they navigate the often turbulent waters of romance, culture, career, and family.” It delves into the complexity of trying to both honor and break from cultural traditions while balancing personal values and career goals in a society that does not always accommodate both. 

The eighth edition of the festival will include 33 films, including shorts, documentaries, feature films and a television series. Organizers say it is “the most programming ever showcased during the three-day event.”

Festival highlights include the world premiere of all five, 30-minute episodes TV series “Nirmal Pathak Ki Ghar Wapsi,” which will begin airing worldwide on SonyLIV a week AFTER the festival; senior citizen programming, co-presented by AARP Texas; and the Love, Lost & Found” Programming, co-presented by Indian matchmaking service The Auntie Network

The festival’s centerpiece film is Sushrut Jain’s “The Tenant,” about an unlikely friendship between a 13-year-old boy and Meera, a beautiful cosmopolitan woman from the big city, along with Bakul Matiyani’s short film “Smile Please.” 

The Dallas premiere of Pan Nalin’s “Last Film Show,” and Tushar Tyagi’s short film “Lappad” will close the festival on May 22. 

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The festival kicked off on May 16 with the screening of the digitally-restored 4K version of Mira Nair’s “Mississippi Masala,” celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Nair’s classic starring Sarita Choudhury and Denzel Washington “blends the vibrant cultures of India, Uganda, and the American South into a rich and fragrant fusion feast in a luminous look at the complexities of love in the modern melting pot,” according to the film’s synopsis. 

It tells the story of Mina (Choudhury), who, years after her Indian family was forced to flee their home in Uganda by the dictatorship of Idi Amin, finds herself helping to run a motel in the faraway land of Mississippi. “It’s there that a passionate romance with the charming Black carpet cleaner Demetrius (Washington) challenges the prejudices of their conservative families and exposes the rifts between the region’s Indian and African American communities,” the synopsis says. 

(Top photo, a scene from the film “Americanish.”)

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