Returning for its third year, the festival’s 2015 edition showcases over 50 Canadian and international titles that explore all aspects of the Sikh experience, from the origins of the faith to the social and cultural concerns of the present day.
This year’s amazing event kicks off on Friday, August 28. The program begins with a gala night premier which welcomes many of the community’s influential and notable personalities. The gala unveils the feature film of the night, Learning to Drive. This 2014 American film set in Manhattan centres on the unlikely friendship that develops between a soft-spoken Sikh cab driver, Darwan, and Wendy, a successful career woman who suffers the toll of her recent marriage breakdown. Darwan is tasked with giving Wendy driving lessons but more significantly, the tale shows how friendship and courage is found in the most unsuspecting of relationships.
The festival has attractions for all age groups and families are encouraged to attend. Notably, Saturday, August 29 and Sunday, August 30, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., are completely dedicated to kids only.
“We are so super excited to unveil the Jot Singh and Adventures of Roop Singh series by Sukhwinder Singh,” says Nikki Gill-Burns, Chair of the Sikh International Film Festival Toronto.
“Once again we are so excited to offer a diverse showcase of world cinema exploring the global Sikh experience. This year’s line-up includes remarkable features, fascinating documentaries, archival material, comedies and wide variety of shorts. We will see the power of film to educate, stimulate, entertain and inspire us,” says Jatinder Gill, Vice-Chair of the Sikh International Film Festival Toronto.
The Saturday night main feature will begin at 7 p.m. and will showcase a special screening of the eagerly anticipated film, 31 October, 1984, as part of this three-day celebration of Sikh stories and storytellers. It is the first mainstream film ever based on the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the events that followed.
“[The film is] a true life story of a Sikh family in 1984. We begin the film with Indira Gandhi’s assassination and we show how a family survives. People have died, become drug addicts, and we have a widows’ colony. The impact of ’84 has been disastrous and permanent. By making this film, I am not inviting controversy or stirring a debate, but I want people to realise that such acts should not be repeated,” says Harry Sachdeva, the film’s producer.
“This film is not just based on Sikh community; it’s based on Hindu and Muslim communities as well. Each and every one will relate to this film,” he says.
SIFFT is presented by the Sikh Foundation of Canada, which promotes greater understanding of the Sikh presence in this country and highlights their contributions with a focus on arts, education and culture.
For more information on Sikh International Film Festival Toronto, visit sifft.ca.