The Kabir Cultural Center has announced the jury winners of the 11th edition of its Montreal South Asian Film Festival (SAFFMontréal). This hybrid format, online and in theaters, offered eclectic and engaging films from November 19 to 28. All films were subtitled in English and French.
The festival, supported by the City of Montreal, the City of Saguenay and Heritage Canada, is the only one of its kind in Quebec to present films by independent filmmakers from the Indian subcontinent and its diaspora around the world. The festival kicked off at the Cineplex Forum in downtown Montreal on Friday November 19 with the feature film MEE RAQSAM (Baba Azmi, India) and ended on Sunday November with the documentary EMERGENCE: OUT OF THE SHADOWS (Vinay Giridhar, Canada). A total of 54 films were shown, including 7 on location and 47 others free online. The themes covered by the films were plentiful, including the treatment of the elderly, science versus superstition, the arts versus religion, the evils of patriarchy, the impact of Covid, and the rural versus urban divide, just to name. only a few.
Special evenings were dedicated to honor iconic Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray and Iranian-Canadian filmmaker Shahin Parhami, the latter in partnership with Festival Accès Asie and Diaspora Film Festival in Toronto. Filmmakers were present on zoom for the films ME RAQSAM, BHAI’S CAFE and EMERGENCE: OUT OF THE SHADOWS; audiences were delighted to interact directly with the filmmakers on different aspects of the films. The hybrid format allowed organizers to gauge the audience’s readiness to return to live-action cinematic experiences in these uncertain pandemic times.
The films in competition were evaluated by an international jury and the following films were awarded:
Winner: Baaram (Priya Krishnaswamy, India, Tamil)
Finalist: Chronicle of Space (Sanjay Shetye, India, Marathi)
Special Mention: Songs for Rain (Krrishna Kt. Borah, Assamais)
Winner: The Ice Cream Sellers (Sohel Rahman, Bangladesh, Bengali)
Special Mention: Janani’s Juliet (Pankaj Rishi Kumar, India, Tamil)
Fictional short film
Winner: Washing machine (Anand Singh Chouhan, India, Rajasthani)
1st finalist: Bad Omen (Salar Pashtoonyar, Canada, / Afghanistan, Persian)
2nd finalist: No Beloved (Salman Alam Khan, Pakistan, Urdu)
Special Mention: Mixi (Jyotsna Puthran, India, Silent)
Winner: Dunkey Follow 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 awarded by the jury had a common theme: How empathy, support, and psychologically secure attachments, or lack thereof, from family members, community leaders or host governments, all make the difference whether individuals and communities are thriving or failing. ”
In addition to a large Canadian audience during on-site presentations, online films were viewed in many countries around the world such as: Bangladesh, Canada, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka , Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.
The Montreal South Asian Film Festival is presented by the Kabir Cultural Center, which emphasizes year-round activities of South Asian classical arts, literature, poetry and cinema. Learn more at www.saffm.centrekabir.com.