13th South Asian Film Festival of Montréal (SAFFMontréal) presents

Quality films from the Indian subcontinent and its diaspora

The festival is offered both in state-of-the-art cinemas and free online, along with live Q&As in person or around the world via Zoom. A platform for filmmakers of South Asian origin worldwide, SAFFMontréal presents an eclectic choice of inspiring and thought-provoking films pertinent to Canadian democratic values.  With most screenings subtitled in both English and French, the festival is vital and engaging. Film enthusiasts can look forward to over 50 movies, many award-winning, from nine countries in a multitude of languages. Short, long, documentary and feature selections are all up for juried awards. This 13th edition takes place May 24 to June 2. Diversity, equity, inclusion and cinematographic merit are driving forces behind the festival’s film choices. Here, audiences are introduced to films they would never have the chance to see elsewhere. This is the only South Asian film festival in Quebec.

This year’s festival begins and ends with Canadian connections, including the free opening night world premiere of the Indo-Canadian production Stealing Vows; a glamourous fun-filled, heist comedy about trying to find a short-cut to living happily-ever-after, at Cinémathèque québécoise. The leading cast of four (including Ali Hassan), the director, and the producer will be present. The free closing film is the supernatural drama, In Flames; a mother and daughter’s precarious existence is ripped apart after the death of the family patriarch.

Other noteworthy filmmakers will be on hand in Montreal for discussions with audiences, including from Dear Jassi (co-presented with Fantasia International Film Festival), Songs of the Sufi, Colonel Kalsi and Mum Singh. Also on the panels are film professors, critics and other experts in the field, creating a memorable experience for festival goers.

Film themes are rich and wide-ranging, with newsworthy current topics highlighting the environment; women’s rights,  empowerment and the lack of agency; Sufi singing; activism; various laws affecting minorities; children in conflict-torn regions; dysfunctional police; LGBTQ+ issues; aging parents; the struggle for religious accommodation; politically stifled artists; and coming-of-age. Diverse styles include fiction, documentary, drama, horror, science fiction and humour. Weekend feature films in cinemas are paired with shorts.

In addition to the current entries from India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, UK, Malaysia, Iran, Canada and USA, every year the festival showcases a film from a neighbouring South Asian country. This year, from Iran, the multiple award-winning No Bears by famous dissident filmmaker Jafar Panahi will be presented. Panahi has faced repeated political hostility while making his films.

This 13th edition of the festival continues its presentation of world-class films about the lives of South Asians in languages as varied as Santali, Marathi, Hindi, Kashmiri, Urdu, Punjabi, Persian, Azerbaijani, Turkish, Malay, Dogri, Bengali, Bodo, Assamese, English and French, among others.

“My personal favourites this year are Dear Jassi and Tiger Stripes, two feature films addressing women-specific issues in different parts of the world,” offered Festival Director Bukhari. “The climate crisis is a serious issue, and this year we have a touching film on the topic, Tortoise Under the Earth, which I’m looking forward to enjoying with a full audience.”

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 audience talkbacks with filmmakers and distinguished panelists, leading to the reconciliation of multiple points of view.

For more information visit: https://saffm.centrekabir.com

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