Kabir Cultural Centre has announced the jury award-winners of the 11th edition of its annual South Asian Film Festival of Montréal (SAFFMontréal). This hybrid format, online and in cinemas, offered eclectic, engaging films from November 19-28. All films were subtitled in both English and French.

The festival, supported by the City of Montreal, City of Saguenay and Heritage Canada, is the only one of its kind in the province of Quebec to present films by independent filmmakers from the Indian subcontinent and its diaspora all over the world. The festival opened at Cineplex Forum in downtown Montreal on Friday, November 19th  with the feature film MEE RAQSAM (Baba Azmi, India) and concluded on Sunday, November with the documentary EMERGENCE: OUT OF THE SHADOWS (Vinay Giridhar, Canada). In all, 54 films were presented, out of which 7 were on-site and 47 others free online. Themes covered by the films were numerous including the treatment of elders, science vs superstition, arts vs religion, ills of patriarchy, the impact of Covid, and the rural vs urban divide, to name a few.

Special evenings were dedicated in homage to the iconic Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray and the Iranian-Canadian filmmaker Shahin Parhami, the latter in partnership with Festival Accès Asie and Diaspora Film Festival of Toronto. Filmmakers were present on zoom for the films ME RAQSAM, BHAI’S CAFE and EMERGENCE: OUT OF THE SHADOWS; the viewing public was delighted to interact directly with the filmmakers about the various aspects of the films. The hybrid format enabled the organizers to assess the readiness of the public to return to live cinema experiences in these uncertain pandemic times.

Films in competition were assessed by an international jury and the following films were awarded:

Feature Fiction

WinnerBaaram (Priya Krishnaswamy, India, Tamil)
Runner Up: Chronicle of Space (Sanjay Shetye, India, Marathi)
Special Mention: Songs for Rain (Krrishna Kt. Borah, Assamese)

Feature Documentary

WinnerThe Ice Cream Sellers (Sohel Rahman, Bangladesh, Bengali)
Special Mention: Janani’s Juliet (Pankaj Rishi Kumar, India, Tamil)

Short Fiction

WinnerWashing Machine (Anand Singh Chouhan, India, Rajasthani)
1st Runner Up: Bad Omen (Salar Pashtoonyar, Canada,/Afghanistan, Persian)
2nd Runner Up: No Beloved (Salman Alam Khan, Pakistan, Urdu)
Special Mention: Mixi (Jyotsna Puthran, India, Silent)

Short Documentary

WinnerDunkey Following European Dreams (Syed Muhammad Hassan Zaidi, Pakistan, Urdu)
Special Mention: The Heroes of Our Times (Rangan Chakravarty, India, Bengali)
Special Mention: Bamboo Ballads (Sajeed Naduthody, India, Malayalam)

From Dushyant Yajnik, Festival Advisor, ‘’The films selected and those rewarded by the jury had a common theme: How empathy, support and psychologically secure attachments, or the absence thereof, from family members, community leaders or host governments, make all the difference in whether individuals and communities flourish or flounder.’’ 

In addition to a wide Canadian audience at the on-site presentations, films online were viewed in many countries of the world such as: Bangladesh, Canada, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Ukraine, UK, and the USA.  

The South Asian Film Festival of Montréal is a presentation of Kabir Cultural Centre, which focuses on year-round activities of South Asian classical arts, literature, poetry, and cinema.

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