Concordia to Host South Asian Film Festival This Weekend

Free Screenings Begin on Friday and Last Until Sunday

One of the films on show this weekend at Concordia University will be Blouse, a 20 minute Hindi film. Photo courtesy of the South Asian Film Festival of Montreal
Another Malayalam film, Randu Penkuttikal, is playing on Sunday at 12 p.m. Photo courtesy of the South Asian Film Festival of Montreal

We all like to watch films that represent us, says Dushyant Yajnik, a board member of the Kabir Centre that promotes art and culture for Montrealers of South Asian origin.

Yajnik is referring to the importance of the South Asian Film Festival of Montreal, which begins this Friday at Concordia University and lasts until Sunday.

“You’re not just a minor character in a caucasian film,” said Yajnik, who is the director of the SAFFM. “You are the central character.”

The festival is entering its sixth edition this year. Seventeen films from the Asian subcontinent will be screened. Features this weekend come from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Maldives.

All of the screenings are free and will be held in the De Seve Cinéma, which is found in Concordia’s library building downtown. The festival has been organized in collaboration with the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia.

The relationship with the film program and the Kabir Centre stretches back to 2002, Yajnik said, as Concordia would screen South Asian films sporadically throughout the years. Vijaya Mulay, an Indian film and documentary historian and board member of the Kabir Centre, had the initial connections to the program, Yajnik added.

The sporadic screenings evolved into the format of a festival in 2010, he said, adding that they have hopes to make it a competition with a jury in the future.

One of the films this year that the staff are most looking forward to showing is Angry Indian Goddesses, Yajnik said. Directed by Pan Nalin, the Hindi film won second place in the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival last year.

Angry Indian Goddesses has been touted as the first female buddy film in India, according to Yajnik. The film has an audience score of 71 per cent on the popular film review site, Rotten Tomatoes.

While there have been other showings of South Asian films in Montreal, Yajnik said these don’t compare to the festival organized by the Kabir Centre each year.

The Kabir Centre, he said, aims to connect first and second generations of South Asian immigrants from the different countries in the region, through arts and culture. The other goal is to build a bridge to a Quebecois audience, he added, through events like the festival this weekend.