Ninth edition of the South Asian Film Festival of Montréal returns Oct. 25

A scene from Sir.

Kabir Centre for Arts & Culture, along with Festival Director Dipti Gupta are set to present the 9th 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, Oct. 25-27 and Nov. 1-3. 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 and French, with original versions in various South Asian languages and others, including Urdu, Marathi, Hindi, Dari, Pashto, Manipuri, Bhoti, Bengali, Gujarati, Persian, Tibetan and English. Film enthusiasts can look forward to 24 award-winning films from Pakistan, India, Europe, Asia, Canada, New Zealand, USA and Bangladesh, with short, long, documentary and feature selections.

SAFFMontréal is committed to showcasing new and artistic work that fosters discussion and explores the world; aiming to entertain, inform and empower audiences. The Festival holds up a mirror to events happening outside our sphere, organizing animated, daily, post-screening audience talkbacks led by distinguished panelists, allowing people to reflect on and discuss what they’ve seen. There are also presentations by filmmakers, some travelling from South Asia and other parts of the world. Awards are given to the best short and feature length films.

New this year, the Festival devotes a section to films focusing on art; highlighting beautiful films whose subject is the arts or artists, including stories about dancers, musicians and writers. The Festival is also introducing paying homage to cinema and directors from years past. This edition’s retrospective screening is 1958’s Neel Akasher Neechey by Mrinal Sen, one of the finest filmmakers of India who passed away recently. SAFFM’s advisory committee this year consists of people with vast film and film festival experience—Monique Simard, Rock Demers, Jean Francois Pouliot and Henry Welsh. The Diaspora Panel continues from last year, this time with five films.

The South Asian Film Festival of Montréal is going from strength to strength every year and has received accolades from well-known filmmakers. Themes for this 9th edition vary from riveting life-experiences in pre-Taliban and post-Taliban Afghanistan, to the stories of women who stand up for their dreams and ambitions all across South Asia, to little known facts about the origin of polo. They cover people and characters from diverse socioeconomic status, different walks of life and varying lifestyles. Along with laughter, throughout the programming are stories of courage and survival despite challenges.

Gupta couldn’t be happier with the direction the Film Festival is going, “In the past few years, audiences have been incredibly responsive and we are gaining quite a following in Quebec. The team and I find it ever challenging and uplifting to go through close to 250 recent films to choose just over twenty of the best work. We have managed to bring films for all ages and from different parts of South Asia,” said Gupta, adding, “Working with the Festival has created amazing contacts with filmmakers from South Asia as well as diaspora filmmakers, but also linked me with other South Asian film festivals in North America. I am excited about sharing costs and ideas about developing the South Asian Film Festival Montreal with other directors.”

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 mid-November. He is inspired by the appreciation shown by audiences both in Montreal and the Saguenay. Says Raghunathan, “We are buoyed by the support and look forward to further enriching film-goers’ experiences through a careful selection of films based on artistic merit, relevance of themes and variety of subjects. We will continue to bring in films which have made a mark in festivals around the world while at the same time introducing new filmmakers.”

Complete Film Calendar


— AB

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