Kabir Centre for Arts & Culture has just announced the jury award-winners of the 10th edition of its annual South Asian Film Festival of Montréal (SAFFMontréal). The most awaited film this year was the Canadian documentary, Because We are Girls.

In this triumph over trying times, Festival Director Dushyant Yajnik said: “I think we lived up to our aspirations at the beginning of the year to make 2020 a year of bold and clear-eyed 20/20 vision through the films that we chose. The pandemic demanded a course correction; that of delivering the festival in a virtual format. This constraint extended all the way back to the various elements in its planning and execution from the time the initial programming team was formed and virtual meetings conducted, to and through the myriad other steps needed to keep the contacts going with filmmakers, publicists, funders, financial institutions and jury members. All this culminated in an online closing ceremony in the presence of several filmmakers, special invitees and a worldwide audience. Though we did not gather in person, cinephiles did meet, share their passion for South Asian films and connect from across the world. As a result, our extended family of filmmakers, festival organizers, programmers and viewers has grown considerably.”

As in all closing ceremonies for such festivals, the highlight was the announcement of the prestigious jury awards. The jury presented their awards in four categories:

Feature Documentary- Bamboo Stories (Bangladesh, Bengali, Shaheen Dill-Riaz); Short Documentary- Home 1947 (Pakistan, English/Urdu, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy); Feature Fiction- Run Kalyani (India, Malayalam, Geetha J); and Short Fiction- Poet in Two Worlds (India, Marathi, Swapnil Vasant Lata Kapure).

The jury also made special mention as runners-up for the following films: The Accused, Damned or Devoted (Pakistan, Urdu/Punjabi/English, Mo Naqvi), feature documentary; Bulbul (Nepal, Nepali, Binod Paudel), feature fiction; and Dry Leaves (Pakistan, Urdu, Ali Sohail Jaura), short fiction.

The Festival, which was presented on Kabir Centre’s specialized video platforms, incorporated elements of high security for the protection of filmmakers’ works with the simplicity of rapid access by the viewing public. Films were offered entirely free of charge, along with post-screening discussions, and were viewed by several thousand spectators from 30 countries around the world.

The South Asian Film Festival of Montréal is the only festival of its kind in the province of Quebec which presents films from all countries of the Indian Subcontinent, a region of the world rich in its talent for cinema both commercial and independent. SAFFMontréal takes pride in encouraging independent filmmakers to showcase their films that celebrate the lived experiences of South Asians and their diaspora and in this process enhance intercultural understanding in our host country and build bridges with all other sections of the society we live in. SAFFMontréal is also the only festival in Quebec which offers all its films in original version enhanced by both English and French subtitles, a fact that resulted in a significant 25 percent of views in French among the worldwide audience of several thousands in both languages.

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