By Parveen Chopra
New York, Nov 8 (IANS) A five-day South Asian film festival has opened here with the screening of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's much talked about film "Saawariya".
The Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival, organised by the Indo- American Arts Council, opened Wednesday with a red carpet welcome for actors and directors, including Mira Nair, Milind Soman and Konkona Sen Sharma.
Dubbed as one of the biggest film festivals of South Asian films outside India, the event is showcasing over 50 Indian independent and diaspora films over five days. It closes with "The Last Lear" starring Amitabh Bachchan and directed by Rituparno Ghosh.
Awards in seven categories including best film, best director, best actor and best actress will be announced on the closing night.
"Valley of Flowers" is nominated for both best film and best director (Pan Nalin). Other nominated films include "Via Darjeeling" directed by Arindam Nandy and "Manorama Six Feet Under" by Navdeep Singh.
Best director nominees include Rituparno Ghosh for "Dosar" and Buddhadeb Dasgupta for "The Voyeurs".
Best actor nominees include Milind Soman for "Valley of Flowers", Kay Kay Menon for "Via Darjeeling" and Danny Denzongpa for "Frozen".
Konkona Sen Sharma ("Dosar") and Raima Sen ("Manorama...") are among the nominees for best actress.
Authors Salman Rushdie and Shashi Tharoor, directors Rituparno Ghosh and Buddhadeb Das Gupta are expected to attend the closing night ceremony.
The film festival aims at raising the profile of the South Asian film industry outside India.
Anand Mahindra, vice chairperson and managing director of the Mahindra Group, told reporters Tuesday that he was pleased to sponsor a film festival in the US that promotes arthouse and alternate films, rather than Bollywood, which does not need too much promotion.