Big Winners at inaugural NYC SAFF, Presented by Toyota

The inaugural New York City South Asian Film Festival (NYC SAFF), presented by Toyota, showcased 22 shorts, documentaries and feature films over 48 hours at various venues around Manhattan from November 15 to 17, 2019.

nyc saff

The first-ever NYCSAFF kicked-off on Friday, November 15th at the Altman Building in Chelsea with the world premiere of Rohit Karn Batra’s mafia family drama, LINE OF DESCENT, starring Abhay Deol and Brendan Fraser (both were in attendance). The festival’s centerpiece film on Saturday, November 16th was the New York premiere of Gitanjali Rao’s animated Bollywood film BOMBAY ROSE. The festival closed its programming with the North American premiere of Tannishtha Chatterjee’s directorial debut, ROAM ROME MEIN, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui (both were in attendance).

Timely and relevant themes such as immigration, surrogacy, police brutality and the aftermath of HIV/AIDS were explored; under-represented communities such as transgenders, deaf and hard-of-hearing and outcasts were acknowledged.

“Our programming team has worked incredibly hard to strike the right balance and showcase the most current, ground-breaking, topical independent cinema from various parts of South Asia at our inaugural festival,” said Jitin Hingorani, Founder and Festival Director. “We have focused our efforts on really engaging the millennials (Generation Z), as they are the future filmmakers, cinephiles, producers and investors, who will, ultimately, support film festivals like ours; so, it is our inherent responsibility to educate them about world-class cinema that is beyond Bollywood.”

FOUR of those films walked away with top honors at the closing night awards ceremony, held at Rumi Event Space in Chelsea on Sunday, November 17th night.

Jury Award Winners:

Best Short: WHAT DID YOU THINK? directed by Parinaz Jal (World Premiere)
Best Actress: Usha Jadhav for MAI GHAT, directed by Ananth Narayan Mahadevan (North American Premiere)
Best Actor: Ashish Sharma for KHEJDI, directed by Rohit Dwivedi (NYC Premiere)
Best Director: Ananth Narayan Mahadevan for MAI GHAT (North American Premiere)
Best Film: KAAMYAAB directed by Hardik Mehta (NYC Premiere)

Usha Jadhav
Image 1: Usha Jadhav accepts awards for Best Actress & Best Director for MAI GHAT from Manny Bansi, VP Toyota Logistics Services, and Jitin Hingorani, NYC SAFF Festival Director

Ashish sharma
Image 2: Ashish Sharma (center) accepts award for Best Actor for KHEJDI from Manny Bansi, VP Toyota Logistics Services (left) and Jitin Hingorani, NYC SAFF Festival Director (right)

Hardik Mehta
Image 3: Hardik Mehta (center) accepts award for Best Film for KAAMYAAB from Manny Bansi, VP Toyota Logistics Services (left) and Jitin Hingorani, NYC SAFF Festival Director (right)

Image 4: Subhi performs original, Folk-Pop music with elements of Bossa Nova at the closing night party at Rumi Event Space in Chelsea

Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Image 5: Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui and actor/director Tannishtha Chatterjee during the post-screening discussion of the North American premiere of ROAM ROME MEIN, the closing night film at NYC SAFF

*Photo Credit: Sachyn Mital

THE NYC SAFF JURY MEMBERS: Viveck Vaswani (Mumbai, India), Katy Drake Bettner (Sundance, Utah), Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla (Los Angeles, California), and Mindy Raymond Benson (Austin, Texas).

For more information about the festival visit: