In Conversation With The Man Behind IFFSA Toronto : Sunny Gill

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To taste success, you ought to be passionate about it. A lot of people have the right idea, but lack vision to grab the opportunity. But there are certain people who know how to turn their dreams into reality.

One such person is Sunny Gill, Founder and President of International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) Toronto, whose passion and distinct approach helped this event scale heights of success making it the Largest South Asian Film Festival in North America.

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This film festival stands high on three pillars – Education, Business and World-class Quality!

It showcases films that educate the masses by raising influential issues like human rights, women empowerment and likewise. The festival also educates young and budding film directors by organising workshops and seminars. It’s business aspect brings prosperity to the economy of Canada and benefits the community as a whole. Further, maintaining world class quality of the event is the foremost priority. The team never compromises on content or venue.

Our correspondent, Ishpreet, got a chance to interview the man of high calibre, Sunny Gill, where he discussed about how this film festival gained immense recognition and what’s in store for the attendees and participants of the upcoming IFFSA 2017.

Excerpts from the interview-

1- Tell us something about IFFSA Toronto

I can very proudly say that IFFSA Toronto is the largest South Asian Film Festival in North America. With IFFSA, our vision is to become the voice of South Asian Cinema in Canada.  The film festival is a grand celebration that extends for more than 10 days and includes an array of events, which showcase a diverse, language independent, selection of the best feature films, documentaries and short films from around the world, on themes of South Asian cultures and identities. Apart from that, the festival also organises concerts, gala events, after parties, workshops, seminars and networking opportunities with government representatives, business leaders, local organizations, which supports the film fraternity and media groups. The main event, IFFSA Toronto, further incorporates various other film festivals like the Punjabi International Film Festival (PIFF), Youth Lens Film Festival, to name a few. In the spirit of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – the world is one family”, a few other films are also included, which are outside the South Asian culture and are considered under Beyond South Asia segment.

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2- What defines you as a person and what was the idea behind starting such an event?

I would define myself as a highly aspirational person, who is equally passionate. I am an engineer by profession and further pursued management. I firmly believe in the philosophy of giving back. During my initial days in Canada, the Canadian community thoroughly supported me in realising my dreams. I can proudly call this country my own. This is where the idea of initiating this event came from, as films and entertainment are the best way to indulge masses.

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Every Canadian citizen’s principle duty is to do something for his country, and this event is my thank-you gesture to this country. With this event I aim to enlighten the people of Canada about South Asian cultures and bridge gaps between different generations through the medium of films and entertainment. This event also gives a chance to young South Asian Canadians to showcase their talent.

3- Punjabi film industry has shown a tremendous growth over the past few years. Does IFFSA Toronto help in its promotion?

Indeed, the Punjabi film industry is growing manifold. IFFSA provides a platform to young and esteemed actors and directors to showcase their work through the event, PIFF. This event is a sort of celebration of their work in front of the international audience. As and when their work reaches distant masses, they gain a lot of recognition and appreciation. We are continuously striving to encourage Punjabi Cinema. The event features both commercial and artful Punjabi Cinema.

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4- What interests you the most when it comes to Punjabi culture? Do you think Punjabi culture is doing full justice in the depiction of Punjab in all its forms?

Well yes and that too to a great extent! There are umpteen films that portray Punjab in its true sense. These films have successfully raised issues that are relevant to worldwide Punjabis. Over the years, Punjabi film industry has shown a magnificent growth and has redefined itself. What interests me the most are movies like Chauthi Koot, Qissa Panjab, beside others, which capture the essence of Punjabi traditions so beautifully. We make sure that such films are always featured in the film festival.

5- How do you manage funds for the event?

I’m really grateful to the Canadian Corporation and local businesses, who contribute their share in the event and help us realise our dreams. We also provide corporate membership and the members in this category are termed as peacock friends. They comprise of local individuals and local businesses, who volunteer and support the event in whatever ways they can. We also welcome donations from general public. The idea is to have a world class event so if the funds fall short, the team contributes from their own pockets. The entire team is so passionate about the success of this event that they eagerly shell out their personal resources to make it grand.

6- What were the challenges that you faced while initiating this event?

Initially, there was a bit of scepticism as we had no direct contacts in the film industry. But our determination, vision and commitment led us to where we are today. When people saw our hard work, they came forward to help us. Gradually the film industry, Government of Canada, Canadian Corporations came on board and together we made it a hit sensation.

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7- Give us a few details of the coming event – The IFFSA 2017.

It will be a 10+ day extravaganza, wherein we will showcase 100+ films in 15 different languages and will include 40 different events. This year, more than 35000 people will be a part of this event. The reach of the event is estimated to be around 9 million via varied media channels. The event is scheduled in April and May 2017 as both these months imbibe heritage values.

8- IFFSA has gained recognition in a short span of time. What according to you has helped it garner success?

When passion is the driving force, success comes easy. The entire team is a set of professionals who have put in their blood, sweat and tears all the way. We have always strived to achieve exceptional standards every year. Taking inspiration from esteemed events like Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), we modelled ourselves on similar lines.

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Our advisory board has members from all over the world, whose competence has led our venture to touch heights of fame.

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The post In Conversation With The Man Behind IFFSA Toronto : Sunny Gill appeared first on Ghaint Punjab.

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