Vancouver International Film Festival opens this week with its usual interesting offering of indie films, including a few Indian and South Asian movies of note.

manakamana documentary nepal VIFF 2013

VIFF tends to disappoint with their limited selection of South Asian and Indian films each year, but despite that, we’ve culled a list of South Asian and Indian-inspired films to watch during the festival. And if you’re looking for more features and shorts inspired by the subcontinent, the Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival (VISAFF) is just around the corner.


The Lunchbox (India)

The Lunchbox TIFF Irrfan Khan

A must-see film that’s received so much positive buzz at Cannes and TIFF, you would be crazy to miss it. Plus, the film stars Irrfan Khan, who is always wonderful, and Nimrat Kaur, in a stellar performance. Read our review of the film from TIFF here.


With You, Without You (Sri Lanka)

with you without you movie VIFF

Inspired by a Dostoevsky short story, Prasanna Vithanage presents an intelligent love story set amidst Sri Lanka’s seemingly unending political conflict. The film tells the story of the slowly unfolding relationship between Selvi, a young Tamil women fleeing the violence in her homeland and Sarathsiri, a pawnbroker, living alone, seemingly without purpose or direction. Winner of Best Film at Russia’s Sakhalin Festival and Best Actress for Anjali Patil at India’s major festival.


Liv and Ingmar (India/Norway/UK)

Dheeraj Akolkar’s documentary tackles the loving relationship between Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and his muse, Liv Ullmann.


Read our Top 10 Must-See Movies at VIFF 2013


Manakamana (Nepal/USA)

manakamana film VIFF

Sitting at the top of a mountain in Nepal, Manakamana (“mana” means heart, and “kamana” wish) temple is the sacred place of the Hindu Goddess Bhagwati, where, since the 17th century, Bhagwati has granted the wishes of all those who make the pilgrimage to her shrine to worship her. For most of four centuries, the only way of accessing Manakamana was by way of a three-hour uphill trek. Pilgrims still travel by foot, but most journey today to the shrine by cable car, and this trip is the subject of this trek.


Ma Na Sapna (A Mother’s Dream) (India/Switzerland)

ma na sapna movie VIFF

Six pregnant women in northwest India dream of the better life they’ll enjoy once their babies are born and handed over to their rightful mothers. A sensitive look at surrogate mothers, Valerie Gudenus’ documentary chronicles the complications that arise during their unique nine-month journeys.


Hue: A Matter of Colour (Canada)

Vic Sarin (Partition, Murder Unveiled) explores shadeism in this documentary. The film takes us from the Philippines to Tanzania (and many places in between), sharing the stories and struggles that people face around around skin colour.


When I Walk (Canada/USA)

when i walk documentary jason dasilva VIFF

Jason DaSilva’s world changed in December of 2006 when while vacationing with his family, he suddenly fell down on the beach and couldn’t get back up. In a matter of months, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Jason picked up the camera, turned it on himself, and began filming the slow, difficult decline of his body—and the miracles he encountered along the way. DaSilva sheds light not only on his struggles with the disease, but its impact—and even its influence—on his creative process and his relationships.


Vancouver International Film Festival opens Thursday, September 26 and runs until Friday, October 11, 2013.


Story By: Manjot Bains  |  Photography Courtesy: VIFF