South Asian Films to Watch at VIFF 2015

Civil war and French street gangs form the backdrop for an immigrant story, while hipster gangsters fight a turf war in Vancouver. This year, Vancouver International Film Festival offers a compelling mix of films from South Asia, including a Cannes award-winning film and the latest offering from Deepa Mehta.

Umrika VIFF 

Beeba Boys (Canada)

Beeba Boys Randeep Hooda Interview

#Squadgoals? Maybe not. Deepa Mehta departs from the expected and delves into the world of drugs and crime in her new drama, Beeba Boys. Starring Bollywood actor Randeep Hooda as Jeet Johar, a role lightly inspired by notorious 90s gangster Bindy Johal, Beeba Boys follows South Asian street gangs in Vancouver and Surrey fighting over turf, pride, money and ladies. But the most interesting part of this film may just be the casting coup: House of Waris designer and Wes Anderson’s friend Waris Ahluwalia (The Darjeeling Limited, A Life Aquatic, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as a turban wearing, gun-toting jokester sidekick; former Much Music VJ and journalist Monika Deol in her feature film debut as an uptight mob wife; Indian character actor Kulbhushan Kharbanda as a drunk father; and in possibly his strangest role yet, Paul Gross (Men in Brooms, Due South) as a man-bun wearing drug kingpin.

September 27 and 29. Buy Tickets.


Dheepan (France)

Dheepan TIFF Review

Three Sri Lankan strangers form an unexpected family to escape a violent civil war in Jacques Audiard’s Cannes Palme D’Or winning film, Dheepan. Starring novelist, activist and former Tamil Tiger soldier Antonythasan Jesuthasan as Dheepan, the film follows the new immigrants as they struggle with a new language, customs and crime in Paris. Read our TIFF review of Dheepan.

“A searing yet hopeful slow-burn drama… It’s a pleasure to put yourself in the hands of such a confident director [as] Dheepan immerses us via image and sound in a compelling world. The visuals have texture and fluidity, and the cool electronica score is aptly enhanced by South Asian sounds…”—David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

September 29 and October 2. Buy Tickets.


Umrika (India)

Umrika VIFF

We’re so looking forward to this feel good film. Suraj Sharma steels the scene every time he’s on the screen, whether it’s in his debut film, Life of Pi, or opposite Claire Danes in Homeland Season 4. This time, Sharma stars as Rama, a village boy dreaming of Umrika.

It’s the late 70s, and everyone is thrilled when Rama’s big brother Udai (Prateik Babbar) leaves for the US. They wait for his letters home with baited breath, and at first, there is nothing. But then, three months later, the letters start to arrive: cut-outs of Reagan and Times Square, and tales of adventure and success. Prashant Nair’s tale about hope and illusions is a critique of “success” as it’s so cruelly defined in our world.

September 30, October 3 and 5. Buy Tickets.


31stOctober (India)

31stOctober VIFF

31stOctober is set in Delhi during the anti-Sikh pogroms in 1984. In the opening moments we see Prime Minister Indira Ghandi shot by her Sikh bodyguards, and within hours many Hindu men are lashing out in rage. In the riots that ensue some 3,000 Sikhs lose their lives. This is the story of one family and their attempt to survive.

Starring Vir Das and Soha Ali Khan, with a soundtrack featuring Asha Bhosle, Ustad Gulam Mustafa Ali Khan, Sonu Nigam, Harshdeep Kaur. and Javed Ali.

“A roller-coaster ride of a film… a must-see drama.”—London Indian Film Festival

September 29 & 30. Buy Tickets.


Tana Bana (Ireland/India)

Tana Bana VIFF

Set in the city of Varanasi, Tana Bana is a gorgeous fashion film that looks at the ancient craft of sari-making and weaving in India. From dyeing to drying, to stretching and weaving, we get an education in the possibilities of creating beauty. There’s a range of methods to making the sari, with the finest hand-woven examples taking one month to produce. Rich in colour, steeped in culture, and full of fascinating detail, this is a fashion movie unlike any you’ve likely seen. Jugni Style is proud to sponsor the international premiere of Tana Bana at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

September 26 and 28. Buy Tickets.


Among The Believers (Pakistan)

Among the Believers VIFF

A documentary that looks at the power struggle between extremists and secular leaders in today’s Pakistan. In one camp is Abdul Aziz Ghazi (aka Maulana Aziz), an ISIS supporter and Taliban ally, whose Red Mosque network runs a number of madrassas (Islamic seminaries). Aziz’s mother, brother and only son, along with 150 students, were killed when the Pakistani government levelled his flagship Islamabad mosque in 2007. Following the building’s destruction, there were 3,700 terrorist attacks, 1,200 schools destroyed and over 50,000 deaths. At the other end of the Pakistani political spectrum is nuclear physicist and educational activist Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, who, with his media appearances and lectures, is desperately trying to combat extremism in his country. Directors Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi secured unprecedented access for this fascinating look at Pakistan.

October 3 and 5. Buy Tickets.


Silly Sheep

Silly Sheep VIFF

For one man, the experience of sharing an elevator with a stranger has drastic psychological consequences. Presented as part of the Reel Youth Film Festival. October 1 and 4. Buy Tickets.


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