Pittsburgh's Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival returns for its seventh year. Beginning Fri., May 11, and running for 10 days, the festival will present 25 films, mostly recent features from the Far East and Southeast Asia, as well as the United States and the Middle East.
The festival kicks off this Friday with a screening of The Lady, Luc Bensson's bio-pic about Myanmar's pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, starring Michelle Yeoh. That screening will be followed by a gala featuring Asian cuisine, special guests, and musical and theatrical performances. (Tickets are $20 for the screening; $125 for the gala.)
Films screen at: the Harris (809 Liberty Ave., Downtown); the Regent Square (1035 S. Braddock Ave., Regent Square); and the Melwood Screening Room (477 Melwood Ave., North Oakland).
Tickets for regular screenings are $9. For more information and to purchase tickets, call 724-969-2565 or see www.silkscreenfestival.org. Below are reviews for some of the festival's offerings.
TOLLBOOTH. His co-workers at the toll booth call Kenan a "robot," for his lack of socializing and dedication to dull, repetitive work. At home, he's belittled by his gravely ill father. Trapped and emotionally isolated, Kenan begins to lose his grip on sanity, falling prey to fantasies and troubled memories. Tolga Karacelik's drama is a well-acted slow burner, handsomely photographed. And it makes good use of its central metaphor: the tollbooth where a static Kenan watches everybody else go somewhere. In Turkish, with subtitles. 2:30 p.m. Sat., May 12, and 9:30 p.m. Fri., May 18. Melwood
PEARLS OF THE FAR EAST Seven vignettes about women, adapted by Minh Ngoc Nguyen from her own stories, depict various stages of life. A young girl transitions from youth to adolescence, and more subtly, from one social class to another. One older woman is trapped in her own memories of her once-fruitful acting career; another ponders why none of her marriage opportunities worked out. Cuong Ngo's debut feature is beautifully shot, and features gorgeous Vietnamese countryside, but its meditative, non-narrative nature isn't for all viewers. In Vietnamese, with subtitles. 5 p.m. Sat., May 12 (Harris), and 9:30 p.m. Wed., May 16 (Regent Square)
DELHI IN A DAY. Various strata of contemporary class in India are examined in Prashant Nair's comedy. When a naïve young Englishman is visiting his father's friends in Delhi, a large amount of cash disappears from his luggage. His nouveau riche hosts are quick to blame one of their servants, who include Tamil drivers, a fiery cook and a young girl who dreams of being a Bollywood star. It's a low-key upstairs-downstairs affair that takes light jabs at all, before resolving satisfactorily. In English, and Hindi, with subtitles. 7 p.m. Sat., May 12, and 2:30 p.m. Fri., May 18. Regent Square
LOVELY MAN. This bittersweet drama, written and directed by Teddy Soeriaatmadja, takes place over approximately 24 hours in a seedy part of Jakarta, and features just two key characters. One is a 19-year-old devout Muslim girl from the country who comes to the city seeking her long-estranged father. She finds him, but also discovers that he works as a transvestite prostitute. Over coffees and late-night walks, the two sort out their respective disappointments, anger and guilt. The conclusion may be a bit pat, but Soeriaatmadja allows each character respect and dignity, without sugar-coating the relationship's troubled nature. In Indonesian, with subtitles. 9 p.m. Wed., May 16, and 9 p.m. Fri., May 18. Regent Square
TRISHNA. Michael Winterbottom adapts Thomas Hardy's 19th-century novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles, resetting the tale of an uneducated rural woman variously betrayed by men in contemporary India. Trishna (Freida Pinto) thinks she has found a better life with the cavalier and wealthy Jay (Riz Ahmed). She works at his father's hotel, and later, joins him as his mistress in Mumbai's lively Bollywood scene. But whatever love Jay holds for her turns toxic and sexually demeaning. Indian culture's mix of urban and rural, traditional and modern, makes a good backdrop for this melodrama rooted in old-fashioned morality and gender roles. In English, and Hindi, with subtitles. 4:30 p.m. Sun., May 20. Regent Square. $20