Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why is the Silk Screen Asian Film Festival valuable?

At last Friday's Silk Screen Film Festival Gala, I was one of many who were interviewed by a local TV crew. One of the questions asked was what makes Silk Screen valuable to Pittsburgh. Now, I hardly claim to represent Pittsburgh, but I can think about what makes Silk Screen, and film festivals in general, valuable to me.

Now, for sheer variety of selection, we have things like Netflix that have an overwhelming selection of films. And what makes Netflix special is not that it mails these movies to my home, but that it has a selection of everything under the sun, including the most obscure (my wife and I imagine that the Netflix computers that analyze movie selections must have a real fun time working with us) and foreign films. But while Netflix computers can recommend movies similar to what you have seen before, what it would not do is expose you to something completely different.

Those who watch media have noted that over the last few years it has become increasingly fragmented. It is very easy now to see only what reinforces your current beliefs, views, opinions and way of life.

But, for me, life has not yet become a routine of the same. And given my age, I'm starting to wonder (and hope!) that it does not (since I think for most people have settled into a set routine by now). There is not a week that goes by that I don't have to deal with something that, if not completely new, is something I do not expect to deal with often. While it makes for an interesting life, I only get one of these, so do not have the benefit of experience (to be fair, I'm often in situations where noone involved has this benefit.) What film (and works of fiction in general) do is provide a window into different ways of seeing a situation, working out alternatives, and providing a mirror that asks what is it that you value. While it cannot be expected that the movie or book describe any real situation exactly (after all, it becomes a sample of 1), it can teach you to see things from several viewpoints. And if not teach you what to do, at least show you what you do not want to happen.

And Silk Screen. The festival takes on the role of an editor or reviewer. Of the myriad of choices out there, where to find the gems. And Silk Screen identifies films worthy of my time and attention, and brings them here to Pittsburgh. Showing me the world through a set of eyes I may not have found on my own here. And for that I am thankful.

See you at the movies of the Silk Screen Asian Film Festival in Pittsburgh.
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