South Asian Film Festival Montreal (SAFFM) the goal is to Unite Community Through Culture

Kabir Centre for Arts & Culture
Kabir- Uniting communities through Culture

The Kabir Centre for arts & culture is a non-profit that promotes dance, art, cinema, literature and poetry. The South Asian Film Festival in collaboration with the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema of Concordia University,  is taking place over two weekends, Oct. 26-28 and Nov. 2-4. This Festival will also be shown in Saguenay from Nov. 16-18th.

South Asian Film Festival Montreal
South Asian Film Festival Montreal

Many of the filmmakers will be at the Festival to talk about their story and inspiration for the film. The screenings will be divided into one long film and two shorts. There will be post-screening discussions between the viewers and the panelists; it’s a wonderful opportunity to understand the genesis of the story.

The South Asian Film Festival will be Inspiring and Thought-Provoking

The SAFFM screenings are subtitled in English or French, with original versions in various South Asian languages including Bengali, Urdu, Tamil, Dari, Nepali and Hindi, among others. This is your chance to travel through film, many of which are 26 award-winning films from Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Australia, Germany, U.K., USA and Canada. There is something for everyone, including short, long, documentary and feature selections.

SAFFM Aims to Entertain, Empower and Inform

For the second successive year, most of the films are in competition, with awards given to the best short, best documentary and best feature length films. The eclectic mix of films are set in the Indian Sub-continent and it’s diaspora communities across the world.

Here is a glimpse of some of the powerful films in the Festival:

The Peanut Seller- SAFFM
The Peanut Seller – SAFFM

The Peanut Seller is one Short that particularly caught my attention. It immediately brought me back to New Delhi a year ago.  I recalled every detail in my mind, as the 30-something-year-old street vendor scooped hot peanuts into a newspaper funnel. I could not help but wonder what his life was like. He seemed so gentle and kind, all the while his wrinkles showed resilience in the face of hardship. I melted with compassion. That’s my story, now let Etienne Sievers take us on his journey through his eyes. Tickets for the screening is at Oct. 26 at 18:30 and it is paired with Cake (full length) followed by panel discussions.

 “It is important to devote a whole day to diaspora filmmakers and their visions…

Director Dipti Gupta

Cake by Asim Abbasi, is set in the U.K. and Pakistan. It’s a story about love, loss and life and death.  It’s about two sisters; the struggle between the protagonist and antagonist, one of whom lives abroad and the other is left behind here. It showcases their conflicts in dealing with their relationships and parents.

Thanks to Mr. Raghunathan for his dedication to the community and the arts ,“We are very happy that we are able to bring in films which have made a mark in festivals around the world and at the same time introduce new filmmakers.” TK Raghunathan, President of Kabir Centre.

On Oct.27 at 14:30, He is Isis (7 min. short), Purdah (71 min.), and Dechirements (Torn Apart) will be sharing the same screen.

I Am Isis will lead the trio screening. Set in Australia, based on a semi-true story, it’s Omar’s first day playing a terrorist when an actual ISIS terrorist takes over the film set, leaving Omar to save the crew. If only they could tell him apart from the actual terrorist.

Purdah, by Jeremy Guy. It’s an inspiring story of a young Indian woman who trades her burka for dreams of playing on the Mumbai Senior Women’s Cricket Team.  Unfortunately, the harsh realities for women in her country creates an unexpected outcome for her own family, ultimately shattering and fueling aspirations.

Torn Apart Déchirements (Torn Apart)
The next film on the same bill, by Raymonde Provencher.
What does one do at fourteen, fifteen years old when family members start pressuring in order to accept an arranged marriage? Can one refuse? What are the consequences? Is there a risk of life? Forced marriages do exist in Quebec and teenagers often are the victims.

In case you are still wondering what to do for Halloween, here is an option.


South Asian Film Festival Montreal Saturday, Oct. 27th 18:30, the Evening Kicks off with 2 Shorts, and 1 Feature

Dant (Teeth), set in Bangladesh, by Iqbal Hossain Chowdhury. A street child longs for good food. A medical student wants to pass her practical exam at any cost. Consequently, they come across each other…I think we see where this is going. Choose your friends wisely.

Just a Cup of Tea, by Muhammad Belaal Imran, set in Pakistan.  Everyone has tea rituals. Where and who they drink it with is all very special.  A narrative journey of Ghulam Raees (Rashid Farooqi) who takes us back in time where he used to work at the tea store of Ahmedeen (Qazi Wajid) and they both used to enjoy tea together. Who made that special tea, why was it so special to both the characters is the story that unfolds with beautiful visuals and engaging music of Bas Ek Piyali Chai.

Nude, by Ravi Jadhav, set in India. the story of a poor woman who comes to Mumbai with her son to escape an abusive, adulterous husband in her hometown. After struggling to find work in the big city, Yamuna lands a job as a nude model for art students at the prestigious Sir J J School of Art. The film is based on a true story but the identities of the actual individuals involved have been kept secret.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Sunday, Oct. 28th 14:30 The afternoon starts off with 2 films

SILENCED VOICES: Perween Rahman_The Rebel Optimist
by Mahera Omar, set in Pakistan. An architect and urban planner, Perween Rahman dedicated her life for the poor of Pakistan. She was shot dead by armed assailants on her way home in March 2013. When she joined the Karachi based Orangi Pilot Project, founded by Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan, Orangi’s lanes were full of filth and choking gutters. Perween’s pioneering work in Orangi led her on a collision course with the various mafias in the city. She surveyed the water supply to Karachi and pinpointed locations from where water is being stolen from the bulk supply lines. She mapped and documented Karachi’s informal settlements to provide the poor security against land grabbers.

The afternoon will end with  Salam – The First ****** Nobel Laureate , by Omar Vandal, Zakir Thaver, Anand Kamalakar, Pakistan.

It’s the story of Abdus Salam, the first Pakistani to win the Nobel prize. Abdus SalamThe film captures in vivid detail his life’s journey—from a small village in Pakistan to worldwide scientific acclaim—and his fraught relationship with his homeland, where he faced rejection for being a member of the “heretical” Ahmadiyya movement.





On Sunday, the evening finishes with 3 short films: Twinkle – Power to change, The Eldest Son & Afghan Cycles. Get your tickets here.

Twinkle- the power to change, by Aftab Abassi, set in Pakistan. The first ever woman weightlifter from Pakistan to have won a gold medal internationally. Her success changed views about minorities and also opened up new opportunities for women in general by breaking the conservative traditions of the land. Stunning cinematography.

Next up, The Eldest Son, by Amy Benson. Set in Nepal. 

The Eldest Son- Kumar Darnaldocumentary about Kumar Darnal, a young Nepali man who leaves his wife and two small children to become a migrant laborer in Malaysia with the dream of ending his family’s cycle of poverty. Will the risk pay off? The Eldest Son asks what is the emotional cost of migrant labor.


Afghan Cycles, by Sarah Menzies. Meet the really cool members of the National Cycling Team in Kabul, and young riders in the stunning Bamiyan region. They bike to school and run errands. For all of them, the bicycle is a symbol of freedom. However, the danger and obstacles occur too often.

Stay tuned for next weeks South Asian Film Festival Montreal lineup.  Up for a fright?  LaRonde has some surprises that are certain to entertain. Feeling peckish? let some robot’s serve after film delights.