Facing headwinds, The Silk Screen seeks your help

By Kollengode  S Venkataraman

e-mail:  ThePatrika@aol.com

When you think of international film festivals, you think of glamour, high-end lifestyle (much of it contrived) mixed with creativity, and a decent blend of genuine and faux intellectualism. Men in intentionally but fashionably unkempt accoutrements and women in expensive clothes and jewelry.  And you also think of hot-spot venues — the French and Spanish Riviera, Palm Springs, Tokyo, Miami, Boston… …

These annual jamborees are too many in fact — over 80 in Asia (India, China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea); over 120 in Europe; over 200 in North America; and 26 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

L to R: Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Harish Saluja and Katie Jones of Silk Screen Festival in the last year gala.

L to R: Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Harish Saluja and Katie Jones of Silk Screen Festival in the last year gala.

So, it takes courage to even think of starting a film festival in Pittsburgh, hardly a tourist destination even within the Northeast or the Mid-Atlantic states. But that is exactly what Harish Saluja did nine years ago when he organized the first Silk Screen film festival with a focus on films made in Asia.

One can be courageous — or foolhardy — to embark on something daring in uncharted territory. But courage alone does not sustain you there. You need another trait — endurance and perseverance — to make your idea work over the long haul. That Silk Screen-2015 is entering its 10th year is a testimony not only to Harish’s endurance but also to his passion and commitment to his cause.

Here is more evidence of his endurance: for over forty years, Harish and his long-time friend Dr. Vijay Bahl, have been hosting the Sunday  Music of India program on 90.5 FM, spending their personal money to  get recordings of songs from India.

All through these nine years, he has received support from individual benefactors — Ashok Trivedi, Vijay Bahl, Atul Bansal, Neeta and D. Raja, Nitin Badjatia, Sushil Jain, Seema Batra, Krishna Pendyala, Rashmi & Ravi Koka, Dolly & Juginder Luthra, and Saroj Bahl — and philanthropic organizations who wanted to project into new orbits the picturesque Pittsburgh metro area with its meandering rivers & roads, bridges & tunnels, rolling hills & valleys.

With this asset, and the cinematographic skills available right here, as well as lower production costs, more and more films are being shot in Pittsburgh.

But Harish’s Silk Screen festival is lately facing strong headwinds in raising funds for an unexpected, but entirely understandable reason — the well-earned and well-publicized material success of the Asian-American Diaspora. These are people of Indian, Chinese, Philippine, and Japanese origins and Asians in the US.

Harish’s benefactors — both individuals and foundations — are telling him that they would continue to support the Silk Screen festival, but with this caveat: their support will be only as matching funds.

They are telling him in not so many words, “Asians here have become very successful in their careers, professions and businesses, and resourceful in their lives. So, you raise funds from within your prosperous Asian communities, and we will give you matching grants.”

This makes sense. With wealth comes societal obligations to improve the quality of life. And the arts definitely add to the quality of life.

This is where Harish needs your support. Many of you sould have received his letter in December 2014 appealing for help. Here are the excerpts:

The annual Silk Screen Festival has become a much-anticipated event next year [with] many award-winning films [and] several filmmakers/actors. Silk Screen-2015 will be held July 10-19.

Silk Screen is an Asian Arts and Culture organization whose aim is to build bridges across various ethnicities…  In addition to the film festival, there are several documentary series in schools and dances and music performances in various venues including the Children’s Museum. [Editor’s Note: The Asian American Jazz Group Silk Sound recently produced its first CD.]

The support from several Foundations now comes as matching funding. So we must raise considerable amounts from the community to be matched. We hope you will include us in your annual holiday giving this year.  Any amount is welcome.

Donations are tax deductible since Silk Screen is a non-profit, charitable organization. So, make your tax-deductible checks to Silk Screen and mail to:

Silk Screen

Attention: Harish Saluja

2000 Smallman Street Suite 203 B

Pittsburgh, PA 15222

You can also contact Harish at hsaluja@silkscreenfestival.org or at 724.969.2565.  Their website is:  Silkscreenfestival.org.      The End

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