Wherever South Asians go, our cinephilia follows. Every major South Asian community around the world now has their own film festivals dedicated to the films from the homeland, whether it be London, New York or now Vancouver. The Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival (VISAFF) kicks off this weekend from July 15-17 with a diverse range of films and events to satiate the fans of South Asian cinema in British Columbia, Canada.
Founded by actor/filmmaker Agam Darshi and actor/writer Patricia Isaac, VISAFF aims to "bridge the gap" between South Asian talent and mainstream audiences of the region. The festival gives a voice to the South Asian community in the Vancouver region and presents a side of the film culture that goes beyond Bollywood. This year, the festival is partnering with the ongoing 'Indian Summer' festival of the arts that brings talent from India in conversation with their counterparts in Canada.
The opening night film is British Asian comedy West is West, sequel to the hit film East is East. The film is a "great example of heart warming British comedy, [and] helps draw attention to the strength of home-grown writing, acting and filmmaking talent" (full review of West is West). The centerpiece feature is The Taqwacores, a critically acclaimed film that deals with the complexities of being young and Muslim in modern-day America.
On Saturday, VISAFF will present an array of short films from around the world and with various levels of South Asian involvement. Divided into two categories - Old World Melancholy and New World Hope - the short films tackle big issues and subjects ranging from communal relations, Sikh identity and societal taboos to politics, nostalgia and relationships.
The festival will also host a panel discussion titled 'Acting Ethnic: Negotiating Storytelling and Stereotype Onscreen' bringing together actors, writers, directors and producers from the South Asian diaspora to explore the concepts of ethnic identity in the media.
VISAFF will sign off on Sunday night with the Aamir Khan-produced political satire Peepli Live, "a powerful and thoroughly entertaining film laden with irony, dark humor and most importantly, a wake-up call to a pressing issue" (full review of Peepli Live).
Tickets for the 3-day film festival are now available with a range of options for individual screenings and events or all inclusive passes. For tickets and more information on the films, visit the VISAFF website.
Images courtesy of VISAFF.