South Asian Film Festival of Australia Concludes With Overwhelming Success!
The South Asian Film Festival of Australia (SAFFA) which was held from 17-19th March, concluded with its closing film screening on Sunday, the 19th of March, at HOYTS, Blacktown in Sydney. The festival showcased films from South Asia and proved that South Asian cinema has a vibrant and engaged audience in Australia. With over 2000 films submitted and more than 500 attendees over the three-day festival, SAFFA was a true success.
The grand opening celebration of SAFFA on 17th March was graced by many well-known personalities, including Indian actor and jury member Vipin Sharma, Australian actor/filmmaker Arka Das, Greens Senator David Shoebridge, Deputy mayor Parramatta council Mr. Sameer Pandey, former senator Lee Rhiannon, filmmakers – Genevieve Bailey, Anupam Sharma, Ana Tiwary, David Capra, and leading community members like Anurag Sharma, Shekar Mani, Zia Ahmad, Saba Zaidi, Sanjay Deshwal, Navneet Anand, Abbas Reza Alvi, and Anuj Kulshrestha. The event was hosted by Sydney’s popular MC Jazeel Mistry.
The SAFFA awards were also handed out during the celebration, and was the main highlight of the opening night. The Best Australian film award went to the documentary Helicopter Tjungarrayi, which tells the story of the renowned Indigenous painter and the helicopter pilot who saved his life as a child. The Best Documentary Film award went to the film Aamir - A Trial for Life, which is about an Indian citizen falsely accused of terrorism. The Best Short Film award went to the film Birani, which explores the dog culling and violence against Indigenous people in Bangladesh.
The festival co-director Dr. Vikrant Kishore (Associate Professor, University of Nottingham) expressed his gratitude to the community for their overwhelming support of SAFFA. "I am humbled by the community's overwhelming support of SAFFA. We have proven that South Asian cinema has a vibrant and engaged audience in Australia. I extend my gratitude to our esteemed jury members, whose expertise and dedication have helped to make this festival a true success," he said.
Vivek Asri, the festival co-director, was thrilled by the response of the audience to the original South Asian stories showcased at the event. "Moving forward, we remain resolute in our commitment to showcase an increasing number of South Asian films to audiences in Australia," he added.
Taneem Mannan, a festival core team member, shared her experience as a filmmaker and lover of cinema. "It was a unique opportunity to showcase the rich diversity of storytelling and filmmaking that comes out of this region. Through this festival, we aimed to break down stereotypes and celebrate the beauty of South Asian culture," he said.
Achala Datar, another festival core team member, shared her hope that SAFFA will unite the community to watch, view, air their own opinions, make judgements, and become part of the story-telling through such initiatives.
Abbaz Zaheer, a cultural enthusiast and festival core team member, expressed his pride in showcasing the diverse and vibrant cinema of South Asia to the Australian audience. "The festival was a true celebration of art, culture, and collaboration, and I feel honored to have been a part of it," he said.
The festival was a unique opportunity for emerging and established filmmakers to exhibit their work and engage in dialogue and networking. It was a true celebration of art, culture, and collaboration, and the organizers hope to continue supporting and promoting diverse voices in cinema through future events and initiatives.
Acknowledgement: Photos courtesy: Jaze Shots by Jauhar Janjua