By Julie Fish
Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, which opens Tuesday and is celebrating its 16th anniversary, will be screening its first feature length South Asian film on Friday.
In a press release the festival said it is responding to the community’s interest in South Asian film by screening the Toronto Premiere of Musa Syeed’s Valley of Saints.
The feature length film is a romantic drama set in the threatened lake communities of Kashmir.
It took home two awards earlier this year at the Sundance Film festival in Utah.
Aram Collier, director of programming for Reel Asian, told Humber News the reason it took so long for the inclusion was because the festival needed to gain the confidence to begin serving more of the Toronto community.
“There is more awareness [of South Asian films] by main stream audiences and it might be cliché to say, but Slumdog Millionaire did that,” Collier said in reference to the Oscar winning film set in India.
The 2006 census done by Statistics Canada said South Asian is the biggest visible minority group in Toronto with an estimated 684,100 people.
“I think in general South Asian content is starting to be seen more in an Asian-American space in North America,” said Valley of Saints director Musa Syeed in an interview with The Toronto Star. “The identity is becoming bigger and more inclusive, which is great.”
The Reel Asian Film Festival received approximately 400 film submissions this year from 14 different countries, including China, France, Malaysia and Spain.
Only 60 titles made the festival this year, 22 of which are Canadian.
The festival is also including their first 3D feature, A Fish and mockumentary about the dancing Filipino prisoners, Prison Dancer.
The festival runs until Sunday Nov. 11 at theatres across the city.