Pittsburgh's Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival returns for its fifth year. Beginning Fri., May 7, and running for 10 days, the festival will present 20 films, recent features from the Far East and Southeast Asia, as well as the United States and Iran, representing the diversity of Asian and Asian-American experiences.
The event kicks off with its Red Carpet Gala (8 p.m.-midnight, Fri., May 7; Omni William Penn, Downtown), featuring live dance and music performances, and food from local Asian restaurants; tickets are $120.
Films screen at the Harris (809 Liberty Ave., Downtown); the Regent Square (1035 S. Braddock Ave., Edgewood); and the Melwood Screening Room (477 Melwood Ave., North Oakland).
Tickets for regular screenings are $9 ($5 for students); the opening-night film, Cooking With Stella, is $15. Additionally, an eight-film pass is available for $50. For more information and to purchase tickets online, see www.silkscreenfestival.org.
The first week's films are as follows:
ABOUT ELLY. A group of thirtysomething Iranian couples and their children set up for a few days' vacation at a beach house. One wife has invited a casual acquaintance, Elly, with an eye toward fixing her up with one of the single men. It all seems reasonable and harmless, until an unexpected occurrence shatters the holiday -- and reveals all the social fault-lines and minefields in contemporary Iranian culture. Asghar Farhad's ensemble drama, shot intimately with handheld cameras, begins slowly, but soon acquires the intensity of a thriller. In Farsi, with subtitles. 9:30 p.m. Thu., May 13, and 7 p.m. Sat., May 15. Regent Square
ADRIFT. Bui Thac Chuyen's film examines the desires, fulfilled and otherwise, in an unhappy marriage. In Vietnamese, with subtitles. 7:30 p.m. Wed., May 12, and 7:30 p.m. Sun., May 16. Melwood
BARAH AANA. Three friends in Mumbai turn to petty crime, but it only leads -- naturally -- to trouble. Raja Menon directs this dramedy. In Hindi, with subtitles. 3 p.m. Sun., May 9 (Regent Square), and 4:30 p.m. Sat., May 15 (Melwood)
BETWEEN TWO WORLDS. Vimukthi Jayasundara's allegorical film that combines Sri Lankan politics and ancient myth into a back-to-nature road trip is visually stunning and packed with provocative and somewhat surreal images: Broken television monitors litter a beach; a couple disappear into a forest; dogs tear at the throat of a dead animal. There's not really a plot, but rather a series of scenes, some of which connect, while others remain enigmatic. In Sinhalese, with subtitles. 7:30 p.m. Sat., May 8 (Harris), and 8 pm. Tue., May 11 (Regent Square)
BOMBAY SUMMER. Three young people of different backgrounds become friends during one summer. Joseph Mathew directs this coming-of-age film. In English, and Hindi, with subtitles. 3:30 p.m. Sat., May 8, and 8 p.m. Mon., May 10. Regent Square
A BRAND NEW LIFE. In Ounie Lecomte's drama, a 9-year-old Korean girl adapts after being dumped by her father at an orphanage. In Korean, with subtitles. 6 p.m. Sun., May 9, and 7 p.m. Fri., May 14. Melwood
COOKING WITH STELLA. In this domestic comedy from Dilip Mehta, the husband of a Canadian diplomat stationed in New Delhi befriends the household cook, Stella. He hopes to improve his culinary skills, and she hopes to ... well, make the best of it. The film has some obvious fun inverting stereotypes and our expectations, though mostly by replacing them with other stereotypes and dusty contrivances. (A lot of the plot is predicated on gender-role dilemmas that were current in the 1980s.) And it's a tough call whether Canadians or Indians come off worse in this rather misguided tale about human nature. In English, and some Hindi, with subtitles. 7 p.m. Fri., May 7, and 7 p.m. Sun., May 9. Harris
FOG. Against the backdrop of Hong Kong's 10-year anniversary of rejoining China, an amnesiac young man named Wai struggles to piece together who he was -- and who he might be. Kit Hui's understated drama lightly sketches in some of Wai's character and backstory, but leaves viewers, like the protagonist, mulling over the gaps. Those who need explicit answers may be dissatisfied, but the more observant will note that Wai does make significant gains. In Cantonese, with subtitles. 7:30 p.m. Thu., May 13, and 9:30 p.m. Sat., May 15. Regent Square
FOR REAL. The impact of parental dysfunction on a 6-year-old New Delhi girl is the focus of Sona Jain's low-keyed melodrama. Young Shruti now believes her beloved but deeply dissatisfied mother has been replaced by an alien. For Real aims to be sweet, gentle and affirming but some if its effectiveness is undone by amateurish acting and production. In English. 6 p.m. Sat., May 8. Regent Square
HEIRAN. A young Afghani immigrant and the poor Irani girl with whom he falls in love try to start a new life together in Tehran, despite the objections of her family. Shalizeh Arefpour directs. In Farsi, with subtitles. 5:30 p.m. Sat., May 8 (Harris), and 3 p.m. Sat., May 15 (Regent Square)
MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME. Soopum Sohn's film is a slow-boil of a psychological thriller that takes its cues from Korean horror myths and contemporary Western films about deranged psychosexual relationships (Fatal Attraction, Single White Female). Julie is the young Korean bride who moves to her husband's home in suburban New Jersey, where she tackles her new life with admirable, if inappropriate, gusto. In English, and some Korean, with subtitles. 8 p.m. Sun., May 9, and 8:30 p.m. Sat., May 15. Melwood
THE ROAD FROM ELEPHANT PASS. The Sri Lankan civil war is a major catalyst in this dramatic road movie from Chandran Rutnam. In Sinhalese and Tamil, with subtitles. 9:30 p.m. Sat., May 8. Harris
THE SHAFT. In Zhang Chi's critically acclaimed drama, an elderly man and his two adult children struggle to fulfill their desires, while living in a remote coal-mining town in Western China. In Mandarin, with subtitles. 5 p.m. Sun., May 9 (Harris), and 9 p.m. Fri., May 14 (Melwood)
THE TAQWACORES. Eyad Zahra's film, a Sundance hit, depicts the rowdy life among a group of punk-rock-lovin' young Muslims in Buffalo. 8 p.m. Wed., May 12, and 9 p.m. Fri., May 14. Regent Square
VACATION. The relationship between a prison guard and a death-row inmate is explored in Hajime Kadoi's drama. In Japanese, with subtitles. 8 p.m. Sat., May 8 (Regent Square), and 7:30 p.m. Thu., May 13 (Melwood)
WALKING TO SCHOOL. Peng Jiahuang and Peng Chen's film looks at the lives of two children in a remote mountain village in China's Yunnan province. In Mandarin and Lisu, with subtitles. 5:30 p.m. Sun., May 9 (Regent Square) and 5:30 p.m. Sun., May 16 (Melwood)