The Chicago South Asian Film Festival’s mission is to advance diversity in Chicagoland through cinema, conversation and culture. The festival gives South Asian talent, stories and themes a world platform and is committed to providing an experience in cinema for filmmakers and moviegoers alike with the warmth and personal touch that is unique to Chicago.

The festival aims to:

  • Promote South Asian culture, talent and perspectives through films, art and discussions
  • Promote Local Businesses and Organizations by creating partnerships and fostering strong relationships to provide exposure
  • Promote Chicago as a destination for making films while supporting local talent through workshops and networking platforms

The Chicago South Asian Film Festival, presented by Zee Cinema, is one of the largest multicultural events in the heartland of America and is dedicated to advancing diversity in Chicagoland through cinema, conversation and culture. The Festival was founded in 2010 by the Chicago South Asian Arts Council, a non-profit organization that aims to promote creativity and culture through art.

CSAFF is held in late September in downtown Chicago and screens premiere films, hosts exceptional talent and organizes panel discussions, opportunities for filmmakers and film lovers to connect, musical performances, industry workshops, tributes to major artists and awards galas.

The Festival supports films from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. Films from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam have also received a platform at CSAFF. All of our films are spoken or subtitled in English.

Founded in 2010 by the Chicago South Asian Arts Council, Inc., CSAFF is an exclusive annual event supported by the Mayor of Chicago, Chicago Film Office, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the Consulate General of India, the Consulate General of Pakistan, Chicago Sister Cities: Delhi Committee, Evanston Public Library, the City of Evanston, Tribeca Flashpoint Film School, DePaul University, educational institutions and industry ambassadors. Most importantly, we owe immense gratitude to our vibrant, film-loving and loyal audience.

“The Festival creates an innovative cultural and cinematic experience for Chicagoans and visitors alike. Through the gift of film, the Chicago South Asian Film Festival invites all to share and enjoy the magic of cinema and true cultural exchange. The City is proud to host this extraordinary partnership between the South Asian community and the arts and entertainment industry.”

– Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Festival History

The Chicago South Asian Film Festival was founded in 2010 by Amit Rana, Mileen Patel, and Ketki Parikh with the support of Vachikam Inc and the Network of Indian Professionals (NetIP). The first festival was held October 1st – 3rd, 2010 at the Chicago Cultural Center and Columbia College Chicago and showcased 16 films. The inaugural event attracted just over 1,300 attendees including renowned filmmakers Aparna Sen, Deepti Naval and Ajay Naidu.

The initial committee members at inception were: Suhani Amin, Kaivan Dave, Ketki Parikh, Mileen Patel, Amit Rana, Raza Siddiqui, Susan Singh, Shalini Trivedi and Parveen Usman.

Based on the success of the first festival, the Chicago South Asian Arts Council Inc., a nonprofit organization, was formed in December 2010 to carry out the mission of furthering South Asian arts and talent in Chicagoland.

In conversation and Q&A with artists