Film festival in Canada honours filmmaker Ali Kazimi with retrospective

Ali Kazimi is being featured as the Canadian Artist Spotlight for the 25th anniversary edition of the Reel Asian International Film Festival, which showcases cinema from Asia and from the Asian diaspora.
Indo-Canadian filmmaker Ali Kazimi who had his work showcased in the Canadian Artist Spotlight in the 2021 edition of the ongoing Reel Asian Film Festival in Toronto. (Michael Barker)
Indo-Canadian filmmaker Ali Kazimi who had his work showcased in the Canadian Artist Spotlight in the 2021 edition of the ongoing Reel Asian Film Festival in Toronto. (Michael Barker)
Updated on Nov 12, 2021 04:06 PM IST
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An Indo-Canadian filmmaker has been honoured with a retrospective at Canada’s largest film festival dedicated to Asian cinema.Toronto-based Ali Kazimi is being featured as the Canadian Artist Spotlight for the 25th anniversary edition of the Reel Asian International Film Festival, which showcases cinema from Asia and from the Asian diaspora.

The 10-day film festival, which began on Thursday, is screening three of Ali Kazimi’s documentaries including Continuous Journey, which focuses upon the infamous Komagata Maru incident when the ship of that name, carrying 376 passengers from India, was denied landing in Vancouver due to a colonial regulation that disallowed those who had not arrived directly from their boarding point.

Also part of the package is Shooting Indians, a portrait of self-described urban Iroquois photographer Jeffrey Thomas and Random Acts of Legacy, which documents life of a Chinese family in Chicago between 1936 and 1951 through the lens of race using footage from their home movies.

Kazimi said he felt “truly honoured” at being chosen for the retrospective, particularly since he had never had such a special presentation of his films in Canada. And the location of the film festival being Toronto, where he lives, made it a “wonderful” experience.

Retrospectives of his films have previously taken place at the Mumbai International Film Festival and the Pacific Film Archives/Berkeley Art Museum. But being in Toronto was special.

“It’s important to have a platform to bring my body of work in a cohesive manner,” said Ali Kazimi.

His films have also featured at major film festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival and Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival.

Ali Kazimi, 60, was born in Hyderabad, grew up in New Delhi, and moved to Canada in 1983. Over the past two decades he has also taught film and mentored filmmakers, as an Associate Professor at the Department of Cinema and Media Arts at York University in Toronto.

He also received the Canadian Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in Visual and Media Arts in 2019.

Kazimi’s career has been marked with serendipitous discoveries of footage, some leading to projects. As he said, “My films find me rather than the other way around. It’s never been an easy process, but it’s been very rewarding.” The Reel Asian accolade is just the latest of those rewards.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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