Festival Highlights Best Films From Around The World
By Firdaus Ali
“Your Stories, Your Festival” screams a colourful, promotional tag line for the BMO IFFSA Toronto 2022, North America’s largest South Asian festival. And true to its fame, the festival is back in the Greater Toronto Area to enthrall cine buffs with a lineup of film screenings, star-studded events, musical performances, masterclasses, panel discussions and more.
This year’s star attractions included the iconic cine couple Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar who flew all the way from Mumbai to attend the festival’s opening, red carpet ceremony and cocktail reception.
Other Festival guests included: IFFSA Ambassador Anup Singh, filmmakers Mostafa Sarwar Farooki, Gurvinder Singh, Shahrbanoo Sadat and actors Azmeri Haque Badhon, Nusrat Imrose Tisha and Pauli Dam.
Javed Akhtar, who attended and spoke at the IFFSA Gala, pointed out how a film festival like IFFSA reflect both diversity and similarities that bind us together as human beings.
His wife actor Shabana Azmi, added that she was happy to be part of this year’s IFFSA celebrations, adding, “India is a unique country that lives in multiple centuries simultaneously and the credit goes to our multi-talented filmmakers for showcasing this so beautifully through our films.”
The duo also offered masterclasses to audiences, sharing their expertise and life’s experiences with festival goers. While Javed Akhtar spoke at a unique event titled “Mughal-e-Azam: An Ode to a Masterpiece,” paying tribute to the 1960 classic directed by the legendary K Abbas, the award-winning actress was part of a unique event, “An Actor Prepares – A Masterclass with Shabana Azmi.
Attending stars shared their years of industry experience in the form of intimate workshops and masterclasses, and brought star power to the glamorous galas, receptions, and industry events that make up this year’s celebrations.
The one-of-a-kind film festival launched August 11 and continues to enthrall cinema buffs until August 21, showcasing over 120+ films in 22+ languages and 40+ captivating events across 11 days of continuous excitement!
The films being screened at IFFSA this year, “promise to touch the hearts, minds, and souls of audiences as they get exposed to the wonders of this beautiful art,” says Sunny Gill, President of BMO IFFSA Toronto.
Into its 11th year, the kaleidoscopic IFFSA 2022 lineup explores deep questions about human emotions, South Asian identity, and societal strife. Honouring its role as the Voice of South Asian Cinema in Canada, the IFFSA 2022 programming continues to feature some of the best of South Asian filmmaking with works from cutting-edge filmmakers demonstrating the vast diversity of South Asian cinema. This year’s cinematic theme being “human relationships.”
BMO IFFSA Toronto has become a pioneer institute advancing the development, promotion and celebration of South Asian cinematic arts in Canada. IFFSA is a year-round platform with various sub-festivals and initiatives, which culminates in BMO IFFSA Toronto Fortnight each year. The festival which has grown from strength to strength over the years, has become an international icon and the voice of South Asian cinema in Canada.
Both celebrated and emerging creative filmmakers, film stars and film professionals attended this year’s festival. The highly festive and interactive atmosphere of the festival brings artists and audiences together in a very engaging way. The festival programming creates a balance of tone and form and aims to create an entertaining buzz while simultaneously starting a conversation with the audience.
The festival continues to highlight a diverse, language independent, selection of the best films from around the world, on themes of South Asian cultures and identities. A select number of foreign films are considered under Beyond South Asia segment.
In addition, the festival offers audience interactions, forums and various networking opportunities with government representatives, business leaders, local organizations that support film development, artists, producers, directors, members of the media and more.
Anup Singh, IFFSA founder and ambassador says about this year’s festival theme, “We returned to the big screen at IFFSA, where boundless space of cinema once again allowed us to expand our body and mind, and we might now as birds for so long in a cage unfold our unused wings to soar through the enchantments of our earth, and celebrate ourselves, our endurance and all the little gestures of mutual regard and caring that helped us live as a community even when we could not sit next to each other during the last two years of Covid in our lives.”
Film screenings continue at various cinemas across the GTA until August 21, 2022. With IFFSA’s commitment to help and support South Asian Canadian filmmakers, the festival this year celebrated and introduced Range Road 290 and Anatomy of a Warrior to deservedly larger audiences via gala world premieres.
This celebration of returning to the big screen were led by a screening of Last Film Show by Pan Nalin, a film about cinema that returns us to the excitement of sitting in the darkness and having our childhood sense of magic and innocence brought back to us in the flare of light on the screen. The other two amazing opening films were the Nawazuddin Siddiqui starrer No Land’s Man directed by Mostafa Sarwar Farooki, and Gurvinder Singh’s Adh Chanani Raat.
The Orphanage, Rehana Maryam Noor, The Terrace, Pedro, Once Upon a Time in Calcutta, Saturday Afternoon, Dug, Palyad, Shoebox, No Land Beneath the Feet, Deep6, Gandhi & Company and Invisible Demons are just a few of the 120+ internationally recognized, award-winning films IFFSA patrons will have the pleasure of experiencing at this year’s festival.
IFFSA sponsors include BMO Bank of Montreal, Bell Mobility, Savour Ontario, CBC, Toronto Star, Turkish Airlines, Government of Canada, City of Mississauga, Ontario Creates, and Telefilm, who help to make the festival’s vision a reality. For more information about IFFSA, visit: www.iffsatoronto.com