Philly's first South Asian film festival is debuting this August - Generocity Philly


Jul. 1, 2016 8:12 am

Philly’s first South Asian film festival is debuting this August

The Mustard Seed Film Festival will seek to highlight South Asian works and "promote cross-cultural dialogue and exchange."

The first and possibly annual.

(Screenshot via

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story inaccurately equated South Asia with Southeast Asia. We apologize for the error. Edit 7/1 @ 1:50 p.m.
South Asian films are about to have their moment in Philadelphia.

“We’ve noticed a lack of South Asian films (especially socially engaged ones) that are shown in Philadelphia and its surrounding neighborhoods in spite of strong Bangladeshi, Nepali, Indian and Pakistani communities,” documentary filmmaker Natasha Cohen-Carroll wrote us. Cohen-Carroll is the cofounder of Mustard Seed Film Festival, debuting in the city this August.

“By bringing this festival to Philadelphia, we will not only increase access to South Asian films, but also highlight alternative visions of South Asia and South Asian cinema, bring together communities of various origins and identities, and promote cross-cultural dialogue and exchange.”

The idea for the festival was conceived by Cohen-Carroll and Hariprasad Kowtha while attending this year’s Screening Scholarship Media Festival (SSMF), which focused on race, media and social justice, Cohen-Carroll said.

A still from the film

A still from a Bhutanese short, “Lo Sum Choe Sum”

Since mid-May, the two have teamed up with a few scholars and filmmakers associated with Penn‘s CAMRA, which organizes SSMF, as well as Twelve Gates Arts, Asian Arts Initiative, Philadelphia Asian American Film Fest, South Asian American Digital Archive and Theater of the Oppressed Philly, which will be supporting the festival at various levels.

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Mustard Seed will screen contemporary fiction and documentary films that “not only focus on themes specific to the South Asian experience but are also created by a predominantly South Asian crew and production team,” Cohen-Carroll said. “We are also committed to showing films from different countries, and balancing the distribution of countries represented.”

Screenings will be held on Friday, Aug. 19, and Saturday, Aug. 20, alongside a kick-off party panel, performances and discussions with directors, live and via SkypeThe website will be updated as films are confirmed.

“As we’re envisioning it, Mustard Seed will be an annual festival, but we will be offering screenings throughout the year at community and cultural centers in Philadelphia,” Cohen-Carroll said.

Julie Zeglen

Julie Zeglen is the editor of Generocity. Previous to joining the Technically Media team, she served as managing editor of Star Community Newsweekly, a hyperlocal newspaper focused on Philadelphia’s River Wards. The Temple alumna lives in West Philly.

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