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Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director Deepa Mehta will open the 5th Annual Washington DC South Asian Film Festival 2016 (DCSAFF), from September 9 –11, at the Robert E Parilla Performing Arts Center in Rockville and AMC Loews Rio Cinemas, Gaithersburg, in Maryland. Also Read - Sandip Ssingh Shares Heart-touching Note For Sanjay Dutt After His Recovery From Cancer, Calls Him 'Man With Indomitable Spirit'

The festival will open on September 9 with a red carpet event, movie and gala reception.  September 10 and 11 will be devoted to workshops, movies, and panel discussions. Closing ceremonies will be on September 11 with an awards celebration gala and ghazal program by Jaswinder Singh Bunty. There will be a pre-festival special event on September 8, according to a press release.

This year, DCSAFF is partnering with Montgomery College and supporting ASHA for Women, a non-profit charity organization. Some feature films like “SOLD,” “Chalk n Duster,” “Parched” have women focused stories, as well as some short films also deal with women’s issues, “Unwritten Law,” “Ek Ladki Ek Sapna,” “Bubbles,” “Sharbat,” and “Suma’s Story.”

The special guests at the festival this year include, apart from Mehta (“Fire,” “Earth,” and “Water”); Academy Award-winning director Jeffrey Brown (“SOLD”), National Award-winning actress Seema Biswas (“Bandit Queen”), National Award-winning actor Rajit Kapur (“Making of Mahatma”), Rati Agnihotri (“Ek Duje ke Liye”, National Award-winning actress Palomi Ghosh (“Nachom ia Kumpasar”), Tanishaa Mukerji, Pakistani actress Amna Ilyas and Pakistani director Harune Massey.

Another highlight is a tribute late ghazal maestro, Jagjit Singh, screening his documentary “Kaagaz ki Kishti”, and a post-screening discussion with director Brahmanand Singh.

A diverse selection of 35 independent award winning features films, short films and documentary films will be screened during the film festival. Films are from India (Hindi and regional languages), Pakistan, and Bangladesh, with English subtitles.

DCSAFF has been an annual event over the past four years.  DCSAFF 2012 had renowned director Shyam Benegal with a retrospective of his films. It also premiered Ketan Mehta’s film “Rang Rasiya”, and Deepti Naval’s film “Do paise ki dhoop, chaar aane ki baarish”.  Attendees that year included Ketan Mehta, Manisha Koirala, Rajat Kapoor, Samrat Chakrabarti, Omi Vaidya, Suneil Anand and Prashant Nair.

DCSAFF 2013 had late Farooq Sheikh, Goutam Ghose, Sarita Joshi, Sanjay Suri, Pooja Batra, Avinash Singh, Jaideep Verma, Meher Jaffri and many other artists representing their movies.  The Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao presented the awards.

DCSAFF 2014 had acclaimed director Prakash Jha, Manoj Bajpayee, Nandita Das, Nagesh Kukunoor, Sanjay Tripathy, Iram Parveen Bilal, Ismail Jalani, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Mahesh Pailoor, and Dan Nainan (stand-up comic), attend.

DCSAFF 2015 had acclaimed director Aparna Sen, National Award-winning director Suman Ghosh, actress Riya Sen, actor and director Sarmad Khoosat (Pakistan), producer, screenwriter, director, actor Vivek Vaswani, national award-winning actor Smita Tambe, and national award-winning actor Kishor Kadam.

This story was originally published on The American Bazaar.