Silk Screen’s Sixth Multicultural Gala

 By Merritt Wuchina, PR and Marketing Intern for Silk Screen

Silk Screen has pulled off an amazing night yet again. To open its Seventh Annual Asian American Film Festival, the organization hosted a multicultural Gala on Friday, May 11 at the Rivers Club in Oxford Center. Nearly 500 guests attended, with many of them wearing ethnic dress such as Indian saris, Japanese kimonos and Chinese changshans.

For some guests, the night started at the Harris Theater with an Open­ing Night screening of Luc Besson’s The Lady, a biopic about Burmese democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

L to Right: Molly Ebert, Harish Saluja, Hallie Johnson, and Holly Schweitzer at the gala.

This was the first year Silk Screen hosted the Gala at the Rivers Club, which provided new rooms for different activi­ties. First, guests were invited into the “screening room” to watch trailers from the festival’s lineup while enjoying appetizers and drinks.

Guests also bid on a variety of silent auction prizes, including a series of miniature paintings by Silk Screen’s Founder and Executive Director himself, Harish Saluja.

Saluja, an artist, filmmaker and entrepreneur, started Silk Screen as a 501(c) 3 nonprofit in 2005 in an effort to educate the Pittsburgh community about Asian and Asian American culture through the media arts. The Gala’s success was made possible by the hard work of Saluja, Operations Manager Katie Jones, Volunteer and Programming Coordinator Ruby Jain, and a team of employees, interns and volunteers.

Later in the evening, guests dined on Indian, Chinese and Middle Eastern food from various local restaurants. Performers like the Steel

Dragon Lion Dance Team, Yanlai Dance Academy, the Pittsburgh Iranian Dance Group and more filled the room with delightful costumes, color and sounds.

Between acts, WTAE anchor Sally Wiggin kept the night moving along as the Gala’s entertain­ing emcee.

A notable attendee was Pittsburgh-born actor Manu Narayan, the star of Good Night, Good Morning, a US/Indian film featured in this year’s festival lineup.

“This festival gives glimpses into other cul­tures and I feel like it’s very important,” Narayan said.

The Gala and Festival also left an impression on Jeremiah Jackson, the Director of Diversity at Sewickley Academy.

“It’s for a tremendous cause,” Jackson said. “It really helps bring awareness of a lot of cultural things, a lot of issues that are happening in the world, and it just helps people come together in a unique and exciting way.”

The festivities ended with an eclectic dance party mix of music rang­ing from Brazilian pop to Indian Bhangra provided by Global Beats DJ Carla Leininger.

At the end of the night, guests returned home to rest up and get ready for a mind-opening week of diverse films from across the Middle East and Asia.


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