The Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival brought folks together through film and Indigenous performance art

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      This year’s Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival (VISAFF) focused on reconciliation, reconnection and representation, bringing together many respected members of the community from Metro Vancouver and beyond.

      The Opening Night Red Carpet Gala at Surrey City Hall began with First Nations artist Linsay Willier introducing Elder Kevin Kelly, Michael Kelly-Gabriel, and Tricia Gabriel. The trio performed two Indigenous songs and welcomed everyone to the 2021 festival. MP Randeep Sarai, MLA Jinny Sims, MLA Stephanie Cadieux, Dr. Joanne Curry of Simon Fraser University, Creative B.C. CEO Prem Gill, and Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum were some of the Opening Night speakers.

      Prem Gill (CEO of Creative B.C.), keynote speaker at the Opening Gala

      The audience gave a warm reception to the Opening Night feature film Mehrunisa and the Closing Night documentary Emergence: Out of the Shadows.Film enthusiasts and experts came together for the Tech & Biz event to discuss film production and distribution, which was followed by the invite-only Industry Night event.

      The festival had an amazing lineup of 60 films, including a selection of films for online audiences and special screenings of the Pakistani movie Zindagi Tamasha and Gujarati film Khape.Oscar-winning producer Guneet Monga held a Master Class during VISAFF, inspiring the budding filmmakers and enthusiasts who were in attendance.

      Emergence: Out of the Shadows won the title of “Best Documentary” at VISAFF 2021. There was a tie for the “Best Audience Choice Short Film” between Two Colours of Jahaan and From A to A.

      Emergence: Out of the Shadows won Best Documentary at the 2021 VISAFF

      The film Dry Leaves won “Best International Short” while the award for “Best North American Short” went to Perfect Daughter.

      Talented actor Karan Patel won the impressive title of “Best Actor” for his performance in Khape.

      Meanwhile, Mehrunisa actress Farukh Jaffar, who passed away last month and played the lead in the film, won the award for “Best Actress”. Emergence: Out of the Shadows and Two Colours of Jahan shed light on the LGBTQ+ community within the South Asian diaspora.

      “It was a four-day roller-coaster ride filled with emotions, enthusiasm, and entertainment,” said Mannu Sandhu, producer of the VISAFF. “Every year, people from Vancouver, Surrey, and other parts of the world attend the festival with their films and warm our hearts with their creativity, openness, and acceptance. Every year, I feel more committed to making the festival bigger and better."

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