Friday, November 19 to Sunday, November 28
This year’s awaited festival will be a hybrid format inviting audiences into cinemas as well as online viewing of films, along with live Q&As from around the world. 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. Almost every screening is subtitled in English and French. Film enthusiasts can look forward to 54 award-winning films from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, Iran, South Korea, Canada, and the USA, with short, long, documentary, and feature selections. This 11th edition takes place Nov. 19-28. Most films are available for free, including opening night at Cineplex Forum.
This year, special tribute to will be paid to renowned Bengali motion picture director, writer and illustrator Satyajit Ray on the 100th anniversary of his birth (1921-1992). Ray is a cultural icon in India and the recipient of the highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna. New to the festival is the annual presentation of films from a neighbouring South Asian country. The inaugural country is Iran, with an homage to Shahin Parhami, the late Montreal-based Iranian-Canadian filmmaker who passed away earlier this year.
As the festival’s new director, Syeda Bukhari’s aim is to expand outreach to filmmakers everywhere, “I would like to reach as many minority language communities of South Asia as possible for even more inclusiveness,” she said. “At the same time, I would like SAFFMontréal, the only South Asian film festival in Quebec, to be presented in different parts of the province in an effort to widen cultural connections.” Bukhari would like to bring the many groups together to share this rich legacy, “Showcasing some of the best cinema made by South Asians, the festival promotes harmony and peace. There is a need to understand and celebrate the cultural history and diversity of the region, which encompasses various ethnic groups, cultures, and languages, with people practicing almost all major religions. We want to introduce the true colors and essence of South Asia to the world for better understanding and appreciation.”
This 11th edition of the festival continues its presentation of world-class films about the lives of South Asians, in languages as varied as Urdu, Tamil, Marathi, Hindi, Assamese, Malayalam, Bengali, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Persian, Ukrainian, and English. All films will be presented in their original version with English or French subtitles as chosen by viewers. Film themes are rich and wide-ranging, with newsworthy current topics highlighting: life during Covid, immigration and displacement, LGBTQ+ issues, aging, gender parity, and the struggles of rural life. Divergent styles spanning over fifty films include documentary, animation, drama, and humour.
TK Raghunathan, long-time President of SAFFMontréal, is thrilled to have at least part of the festival back in theatres, “It is an exhilarating feeling to have a live audience and to (safely) interact with them,” he said. Along with the many gems in between, Raghunathan would like to draw peoples’ attention to the opening and closing films. The opening night feature film at Cineplex Forum, Mee Raqsam, celebrates the father-daughter bond and deals with the intersection of arts and religion in Indian society. The closing night will present Emergence: Out of the Shadows, a documentary that explores the experiences of LGBTQ+ members of the South Asian community in Vancouver to live an open and respectable life despite strict family and socio-cultural pressures in traditional, conservative households.
Most of the films can be enjoyed from the comfort of home, with these key films offering the inimitable cinema experience: Mee Raqsam (Nov. 19), Baaram (Nov. 25), Satyajit Ray’s Professor Shanku O El Dorado (Nov. 26), an homage to Shahin Parhami, including Jabaroot (Nov. 27), Bhai’s Cafe from South Africa (Nov. 28 afternoon), and LGBTQ+ films Sheer Qorma and Emergence: Out of the Shadows (Nov. 28 evening).
South Asian Film Festival of Montréal is committed to showcasing new and artistic work that promotes discussion and explores the world; aiming to entertain, inform and empower audiences. The festival holds up a mirror to events happening outside one’s sphere by organizing post-screening audience talkbacks with filmmakers and distinguished panelists. Awards are given to the best short and feature length films both in documentary and fiction categories.
SOUTH ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF MONTRÉAL
Fri. November 19 to Sun. November 28
In Cinémathèque Québécoise, Cineplex Forum and online
Almost all films subtitled in English and French
Tickets: FREE-$10 depending on film, donations gratefully welcome
Registration for films is required: www.saffm.centrekabir.com
For updates please follow: www.facebook.com/saffmtl
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