The 7th edition of the
South Asian Film Festival
An eclectic mix of award-winning films from the Indian subcontinent and its diaspora
Kabir Centre for Arts & Culture is pleased to announce the 7th edition of the South Asian Film Festival of Montréal (SAFFMontréal) in collaboration with the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema of Concordia University, taking place over two weekends, October 27 to 29 and November 3 to 5. A platform for filmmakers of South Asian origin worldwide, the Festival presents an eclectic choice of inspiring and thought-provoking films with a focus on the South Asian region and its diaspora. All screenings are subtitled in English or French, with original versions in various South Asian languages including Bengali, Urdu, Tamil, Nepali and Hindi, among others.
A platform for filmmakers of South Asian origin worldwide, the Festival presents an eclectic choice of inspiring and thought-provoking films with a focus on the South Asian region and its diaspora.
A true kaleidoscope, film enthusiasts can look forward to 19 award-winning films from Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, USA and Canada, including short, long, documentary and feature selections. SAFFMontréal is committed to showcasing new and artistic work that fosters discussion and explores the worlds we inhabit; aiming to entertain, inform and empower audiences. The Festival also organizes animated, post-screening audience talkbacks; discussions with distinguished panellists; and presentations by filmmakers, some travelling from South Asia and other parts of the world. New this year are films in competition, with awards given to the best short and feature length films.
This year’s Festival is being inaugurated by renowned Quebec producer, Order of Canada and Governor General Award’s winner, Rock Demers, who throughout his career has been a huge fan of Indian cinema. Opening the festival is a clip from Nandita Das’ Manto, with the brilliant actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the title role of Indo-Pakistani author and writer Saadat Hasan Manto. The feature presentation is the Cannes Film Festival and multiple-award winning documentary Cinema Travellers by Shirley Abraham, about the touring cinema trucks in India. Demers will lead an audience talkback after the film.
For Festival Director Dipti Gupta it is important to devote a whole day to diaspora filmmakers and their visions. During the first weekend, a panel of respected diaspora filmmakers will be present. Gupta adds, “These invited filmmakers are looking forward to sharing their experiences and stories. We hope this will become a continuing feature of our festival where we support and encourage young and upcoming filmmakers and highlight their work. The Festival will also be honouring Ali Kazimi, renowned Canadian filmmaker whose work engages race, migration, history, memory and social justice. We will chronicle his body of work as he continues to underscore the struggles of the indigenous population both in India and Canada.” The Festival will show Kazimi’s most recent work, Random Acts of Legacy.
For TK Raghunathan, President of Kabir Centre for Arts & Culture, it is important to note that this is the only South Asian Film Festival in Quebec, with a mini version going to Chicoutimi in November. Says Raghunathan, “Festivals such as this enliven local life, generate dialogue, create understanding and build intercultural bridges across communities. There is a panel discussion comprised of academics, film practitioners and social scientists after each screening every day of the festival, regarding themes and topics that the films raise.”
SAFFMontréal showcases many awarded films and Canadian premieres. The wide range of stories include: refugee camp uncertainties and longings in Northern Pakistan in A Walnut Tree; observations on the Maoist movement in the mountains of Nepal in Kalo Pothi; deep insight into North American immigration in From the Land of Gandhi; and a film that celebrates colour, but is shot in pristine black and white, A Billion Colour Story. Also on the program are films like A Ballad of Maladies that captures the struggles of artists and their survival in a highly militarized Kashmir and Mukti Bhawan/Hotel Salvation, a film about family and relationships, the rigidity of religion and the demands of blind belief while debating life and death.
Some of the Festival’s bolder films include Lipstick Under My Burkha, the story of four women who attempt secret acts of rebellion to break the monotony of their everyday lives. The film attempts to shift the male gaze in cinema and was censored for several months, finally receiving clearance from the Censor Board in India. There are also films sponsored by Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival’s Global Initiative, focusing on LGBTQ issues in and around South Asian communities: Transindia, Normalcy and Any Other Day, along with Escaping Agra.
The South Asian Film Festival is going from strength to strength every year and has received accolades from well-known filmmakers. Raghunathan is delighted with the Festival’s ongoing success: “We are very happy that we are able to bring in films which have made a mark in festivals around the world and at the same time introduce new filmmakers.”
October 27 to 29 and November 3 to 5, 2017
Desève cinema, Concordia University
1400 de Maisonneuve W
Tickets: $7 (if purchased before the screening via SAFFM website), $10 at the door
New this year: Festival Passport – $30 for the entire festival, including all screenings
The South Asian Film Festival is supported by Ville de Montréal’s Cultural Diversity Program.