Kabir Cultural Centre presents

South Asian Film Festival of Montréal

In cinemas Friday, April 28 to Sunday, May 7, 2023

Online May 1-10, 2023

This year’s festival will be both in cinemas and online, 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. Every screening is subtitled in English and French. Film enthusiasts can look forward to 58 award-winning films from 12 countries. Short, long, documentary and feature selections are all up for juried awards. This 12th edition takes place April 28-May 10. Many films are available for free, including opening night All That Breathes at the Grande Bibliothèque, an award-winner both at Cannes and Sundance and an Oscar- nominee. This is the only film festival of its kind in Quebec.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are driving forces behind the festival’s film choices. Audiences are introduced to films they would never have the chance to see elsewhere, as well as acclaimed films like Jhini Bini Chadariya (The Brittle Thread), Joyland and All That Breathes. Sivan Spector, star of the beautiful Jhini Bini Chadariya will be in Montreal to present the movie and moderate the discussion following. A number of  filmmakers will be in attendance including the filmmakers of Bajre Da Sitta and award-winning Indian American, Meghna Damani, making it a memorable experience for festival goers.

In addition to entries from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Mauritius, Norway, Czech Republic, UK, Canada and the USA, every year the festival showcases films from neighbouring South Asian countries.  This year there are outstanding films from Iran and Türkiye.

Speaking to the selection of films at the festival, Bukhari said, “We are proud to bring such a diverse lineup of stimulating films that challenge stereotypes and shed light on the complex social and political issues facing South Asia today, as well as its rich and varied cultures. One example is films that highlight gender-based oppression and its consequences for women in certain countries.” Creating a space for meaningful dialogue and exchange is important to Bukhari, “We believe that film has the power to spark social change; we hope our festival inspires audiences to take action and create a more just and equitable world.”

This 12th edition of the festival continues its presentation of world-class films about the lives of South Asians in languages as varied as Urdu, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Bengali, Telugu, Kashmiri, Bodo, Marathi, Assamese, Nepali, Malayalam, Punjabi, Persian, Turkish, Kannada, Czech, Chinese, Norwegian, English and French. Film themes are rich and wide-ranging, with newsworthy current topics highlighting immigration and displacement, LGBTQ+ issues, religious freedom, women’s rights, aging and the generation gap, the environment, gender parity, parenthood, various art forms and the struggles of rural life. Divergent styles spanning almost 60 films include documentary, animation, drama, science fiction and humour.

TK Raghunathan, long-time president of SAFFMontréal is delighted with the way the festival is growing, “This important annual event is gaining wider audiences every year. We have now brought it forward from the greyness of late autumn to the cheer and light of the mid-spring season,” said Raghunathan. “Well-known filmmakers are eager to have their films shown here; our closing film Joyland was the first Pakistani film to premiere at Cannes Film Festival where it received a standing ovation, as well as the Jury Prize and Queer Palm prize for best LGBTQ-relevant film. Witness is a scathing indictment of state-sponsored racial profiling and Islamophobia in the U.S. that will provoke discussion.”

Some of the top-notch online films to be enjoyed from anywhere are Gauri, highlighting the vulnerability of journalists in India; Chavittu, a thought-provoking satire juxtaposing earnest folk theatre with the bourgeois values and behaviour of society’s middle class; and Transkashmir, about the difficulties facing transgender people in Kashmir.

For tickets and the full program list visit: www.saffm.centrekabir.com

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