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A Seattle fund aiming to fill a gap in financing for South Asian filmmakers is launching Monday. The Tasveer Film Fund will bestow $5,000, in a first for that community, to South Asian shorts filmmakers to tell their stories, according to the organizers.

Rita Meher, executive director of Tasveer South Asian Film Festival, and Pulkit Datta, artistic director, said they had been discussing such a fund before the coronavirus crisis began.

“After a lot of discussion — the COVID crisis has heavily impacted the film industry, many are out of work and funding [has] pulled out — we decided this is the best time,” Datta said. “If it helps one filmmaker, we should do it.”

Since the festival’s mission is social justice, scripts should reflect that in theme and be five to 20 pages long. Interested applicants may submit their short film scripts via FilmFreeway. The deadline is July 30.

Supported by Tasveer, Archana Soy Fund and local donations, the grant is a way to also mark the Tasveer South Asian Film Festival’s 15th anniversary this fall with 15 days of programming.

Meher said the film had given cash prizes in the past, but decided to add the fund this year. They also waived the submission fee for films and had received about 300 applications since April.

Due to pandemic, Tasveer will combine its three events into one festival encompassing films, literature and performance art. Its signature “Yoni ki Baat,” a South Asian version of “Vagina Monologues,” was streamed online.

Launched in 2006, “Yoni ki Baat” created an uproar in the South Asian community. “There was a huge backlash because there was standup, poetry reading, Bharat Natyam [classical Indian dance],” Meher said. “People said, ‘tchee tchee tchee,’ closed their ears and walked out. People threatened to sue. But we came with a bolder fool-proof plan, with warnings that it’s for mature audiences.”

Pictured from left, Rita Meher, actress Shabana Azmi and Siddhi Gha, fest guest liaison.