‘Silent River’ Promoting Unity

Filmmakers and community members attended the Silent River Film Festival’s preview night on Oct. 3 at the Irvine Civic Center.

Guests were given the red carpet experience and were taken to the reception area where there was a meet and greet with the filmmakers.

The film festival was started by Kalpna Singh-Chitnis, an Irvine resident, in 2011.

“This film festival was started just like other independent filmmakers start making a film,” Singh-Chitnis said. “There was no sponsor, there was no support. I was just so passionate about doing something and so I reached out to UCI and I said ‘I don’t have even a place to show, but this is what my vision is, that’s what I want to do’ and they heard it and … they loved it, [and] would like to support.”

Her vision drives the film festival, which this year will also be showing films in Beverly Hills.

“This festival is about bringing the world together through the medium of cinema. So we do select films which are socially conscious, looking [to bring] harmony [for the] well-being of human community, which is not existent just in one country, [but] everywhere in the world and I felt we still have [a] need to understand each other as a world together because there is so much racial bias, discrimination,” she said. “There is a poverty, there is a genocide, so I felt that film was such an effective medium to tell your story.”

Singh-Chitnis goes on to discuss her background and how it inspired the festival.

“[The] Eastern world doesn’t understand the West very well … I lived 20 years here in America and 20 years in India and I felt that both keep misunderstanding each other and missing each other.”

The festival selects films that revolve around causes to foster this understanding.

“If you see a film from Iraq and perhaps the people [only] know Iraq just from fighting the war, their [perception] can change because we don’t know what they’re all about, so I think we do not understand each others’ world together. [This] bias is not only in west,  [but] in [the] east too.”

Uniting the world is not the only goal of this festival, as Singh-Chitnis also wants to enrich her community.

“Well I live in Irvine, this is my town. My children grew up here. It’s about giving back to community.”

Irvine doesn’t already have a tradition for film, which is a challenge for the survival of the festival and a reason why they expanded it to Beverly Hills.

“I wish that we only had more support, [for] Irvine [to] feel proud of this festival. I don’t think anyone has taken much time to understand what this festival is about––we are not just showing films, we are for the art and culture of cinema.”

The festival runs from Oct. 17 to Oct. 20 at the Edwards Westpark Theatre 8.