The fifth annual Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival (VISAFF) starts tonight and continues through Sunday. VISAFF’s mission is to bridge the gap between South Asian film creatives and mainstream audiences. This year’s theme includes global Bollywood filmmaking, but also champions local and global independent film creatives and is committed to bridging the gap with mainstream film. Films from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, Afghanistan and the global South Asian diaspora will be showcased.
What’s in store for Vancouver area audiences at the festival?
VISAFF 2015 focuses on the theme Bollywood and Beyond with a lineup that invites the celebration of stories that engage, educate and inspire by promoting free expression, cross-cultural interactions, understanding, and combating intolerance and stereotypes. The festival’s program includes 20 feature-length and short films of all genres, with English dialogue or English subtitles, from the South Asian diaspora — including two Canadian feature-length premieres and numerous short film premieres.
How did VISAFF find this year’s standout stories and films?
When including Bollywood we chose independent filmmakers, ones who exemplified underdog stories in their own regard and have garnered huge success. Then we spent time sifting through hundreds of submissions of local, North American, and global filmmakers who have created thought-provoking films. We spent countless hours on curation and ensuring storytelling focused on difficult subject matters and especially highlighted South Asian women.
How did the festival come about, and how did you get involved with it?
The festival originated in 2010 by founders in Agam Darshi and Patricia Issac, who are Vancouver actresses and work in the North American film industry. Mannu Sandhu and I are co-producing this year’s festival. Mannu is also a local actress who is passionate about film. My involvement stemmed from my academic and professional pursuits that include accurate, thoughtful South Asian storytelling.
Can you tell us about filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s participation in this year’s festival at its Workshop and panel?
Anurag has had critical acclaim with films like The Lunchbox, and The Gangs of Wasseypur, Parts 1 and 2 in both mainstream and South Asian film circuits, so he represents VISAFF’s mission of bridging the gap between the two film industries. He is our esteemed guest of the festival and his film Ugly will start off the festival. His workshop and film panel discussion will focus on professional development and will offer business networking, offering insight to current industry topics and the increasingly global diverse filmmaking, post production, digital entertainment and distribution landscape.
Festival events and screenings take place at Simon Fraser University’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts Friday, November 27 through Sunday, November 29. For tickets and complete program details, visit http://visaff.ca/.