Dozens of moviegoers gathered at Keyano Theatre Sunday as the India Film Festival of Alberta made it’s annual stop in Fort McMurray.
The festival, returning to Fort McMurray for its fifth year and hosted by the Edmonton Movie Club, brings cultural performances, food and film together.
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Nagarajan Babu, festival director, said the Edmonton Movie Club is the only North American organization dedicated to screening Indian films in all of the country’s regional languages.
However, the festival is not just targeting people from India who are living in Alberta. Babu said a major goal for organizers is to bring a cinema style to people who may not have been able to explore it, while showing the Indian film industry’s diversity.
“People might know India as the land of Bollywood… but each state in India has it’s own movie industry,” he said. “Most of the movies we bring have subtitles, so it’s not only meant for the Indian population, but the various audiences of Alberta.”
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This year, the festival brought two movies. The first film was Chaal Jeevi Laiye, a comedy about a man’s quest to become an entrepreneur. This goal is put that aside when his father becomes sick.
The festival also showed Bharat, a film focusing on a boy, Bharat, who promises his father he will keep the family safe as they make the journey to freedom at the time of India’s independence.
Since moving to Fort McMurray in 2016, Babu said he’s been able to connect with different local organizations, including the Arts Council Wood Buffalo, the Multicultural Association and the Hindu Cultural Society. This has helped the festival see an “exponential growth.”
According to the municipality’s 2018 census, 6.5 per cent of the population in the region is South Asian, making it the second largest ethnic group in the municipality.
When the festival first started in 2015, Fort McMurray, Edmonton and Calgary were the only stops. This year, the festival is travelling to 10 cities across the country, including Regina, Winnipeg and Grande Prairie for the first time.
“We want to reach out to the smaller communities and smaller cities, that’s our main goal,” said Babu. “No other organization brings movies to the smaller cities, so that’s our aim.”
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