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URF directed by Geetika Narang Abbasi
URF directed by Geetika Narang Abbasi

The India Film Festival of Alberta (IFFA) announced the program for the eighth edition of the festival, taking place this fall across Alberta and nationwide.

In September the festival will showcase films at in-person events in Edmonton (Sept 2-4), Calgary (Sept 9-11), Fort McMurray (Sept 16-18), and Sherwood Park (Sept 24). Following that, the festival will host screenings across Canada in the GTA (Sept 23 – Oct 2), Montreal (Oct 2), and Surrey (Oct 14-16).

This year’s program consists of 11 feature films, two documentaries, three web series and one short film, with different selections being showcased in the different cities. Edmonton and Calgary remain the flagship cities of the festival, with 10 films playing over three days at Metro Cinema in Edmonton (Sept 2-4) and Canyon Meadows Cinemas in Calgary (Sept 9-11). The Toronto region will witness a unique selection of Gujarati and Bengali films to cater to the Gujarati and Bengali diaspora. In addition, this year, IFFA is partnering with OHO Gujarati OTT platform to showcase their popular web series as a special presentation across Canada.

“This year’s festival will travel across Canada including Metro Vancouver, Greater Toronto Area and Montreal with a broader mandate to bridge cultures through cinema,” said Madhan Selvaraj, Executive Director of Edmonton Movie Club, the non-profit organization which organizes the festival.

The films playing this year’s festival showcase the diverse cinema of India – from established master filmmakers to first-time directors – from all four corners of India. Canadians will be amongst the first to see brand-new works coming out of India, including the one world premiere ORU THEKAN THALA CASE (Dir. Sreejith N), two North American premieres MUTHAYYA (Dir. Bhaskhar Maurya) and URF/A.K.A (Dir. Geetika Narang Abbasi), and one Canadian premiere THE SALT IN OUR WATERS (Dir.Rezwan Shahriar Sumit). Rounding out the lineup are five recent films (2020-22), and a retrospective screening of Mira Nair’s MISSISSIPPI MASALA (1991).

“There are two themes present across the selections: Identity and Love of Cinema; the struggle to express one’s own true-self while love of cinema is represented through films which show the struggle to either be in front of the camera or behind one,” said Sachin Gandhi, Lead Programmer of India Film Festival of Alberta.

Highlights of the 2022 program include:

A screening of Edmonton Movie Club (EMC)’s own production RED WINE, a short film which was shot in Metro Edmonton in the middle of a pandemic as a pandemic recovery project to support artists and art workers in Alberta.

Geetika Narang Abbasi’s URF, which is having its North American Premiere at IFFA 2022 after making its debut at Rotterdam 2022. The film gives a fascinating insight into Bollywood by depicting the lives of actors who are lookalikes of legendary actors such as Dev Anand, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan. The honest look into these lookalike actor’s lives raises questions about identity and the God like status some Bollywood stars enjoy.

Another standout film is Natesh Hegde’s stunning award-winning PEDRO, which is shot in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. The film covers delicate societal and cultural behaviour rarely depicted in Indian cinema. The usage of professional and non-professional actors, including the director’s own father who plays the main lead, gives the film a realistic feel. The story and events are rooted in India but the film’s visual language evokes the works of master directors such as Abbas Kiarostami and Robert Bresson.

There is a special look at Bengali cinema this year, with two works that highlight past Bengali masters. Anik Datta’s APARAJITO is a tribute to Satyajit Ray while Rezwan Shahriar Sumit’s hypnotic Bangladeshi film THE SALT IN OUR WATERS evokes memories of Ritwik Ghatak’s cinema.

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