DESI DIARY

What’s on in AUGUST

Home page image: A still from Ritesh Batra’s  Photograph  . Imsage above: The 38th annual Battery Dance Festival, August 11-17.

Home page image: A still from Ritesh Batra’s Photograph . Imsage above: The 38th annual Battery Dance Festival, August 11-17.

It’s film fest time, folks! August 1-4. Celebrating its seventh year, Canada’s  leading South Asian film  festival, the Mosaic International South Asian  Film Festival (MISAFF), returns with a spotlight on Bengali language cinema.

Running from August 1 to 4 at the Cineplex Cinemas, Mississauga (309  Rathburn  Road  West), the festival will showcase eight fiction  films, three  documentaries and  seven shorts from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Italy,  the UK and Canada.

Women’s and familial struggle stories lead the way with themes of love, comedies on complex relationships, explorations of art and ancestry, and a closer investigative look at domestic/intimate partner violence.

“MISAFF takes the liberty of showcasing courageous and ground-breaking  films,” said festival director Arshad Khan. “We welcome audiences from Mississauga and the GTA, and while it is a South Asian film festival, the stories  and movies are for everyone irrespective of ethnicity or background. We are showcasing films that address the human condition but also relate to our lives in so many epic ways. This is the only film festival  in Mississauga and it has built a reputation to showcase the best cinema South Asian filmmakers have on offer from around the world. We stand apart because as filmmakers ourselves we understand the needs of other film professionals. That is why we include opportunities for emerging filmmakers and talent to network with other industry professionals.”

“MISAFF creates a community, connects audiences and celebrates the power of cinema to transform us as it continues to evolve here in Canada and around the world,” said festival advisor Anya McKenzie. “It fills a cultural void and  unites us in the face of growing inequity and dissonance.”

At this year’s festival, a jury of film professionals including musician and actor Rup Magnon, Pakistani Canadian film director Omar Majeed, TIFF programmer Liane Cunje and actor Huse Madhavji among others, will decide who receives the cash  prizes for Best First Feature, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenplay. Also returning is the Sabeen Mahmud Award for Courage in Cinema, founded in memory of the human rights activist and interactive media creator. In addition, the 2019 MISAFF Star presented by ACTRA will recognize Ottawa/Toronto-native and pioneering actor Hamza Haq.

Films  helmed by women include Venus (Eisha Marjara), Untying The Knot (Zana Shammi), 15-year old Aniyah Faisal’s Our Reality Is Happy, and the world premiere of Saaya (Fawzia Mirza and Anam Abbas).

The festival also brings the multiple award-winning Italian-Bangladeshi comedy Bangla for its North American premiere on opening night followed by a talk back with the filmmaker. The closing night red carpet  film Kaamyaab will be  presented by award-winning director Hardik Mehta. Other notable films premiering include playback singer Arijit Singh’s directorial debut SA, Sapna Moti Bhavan’s award-winning Sindhustan, Afghan-Australian TIFF winner Jirga, Lunchbox director Ritesh Batra’s Photograph, the international premiere of the comedy The He Without Him, Punjabi dark comedy Meshampur, world premieres of the Indian film Gaash and critically-acclaimed Pakistani film Indus Blues.

Also back this year is the popular MISAFF Chat, an industry event that brings filmmakers directly in contact with film enthusiasts. Filmmakers who will speak about making and rolling out their first feature film and take questions from the audience include Eisha  Marjara, Akash Sherman (Clara), Saqib Malik (Baaji), and  Hardik Mehta.

In 2012, the Canadian Community Arts Initiative, a registered non-profit organization in Mississauga engaged Anya Mckenzie and Arshad Khan to take the small film component of Mosaic outdoor Festival to the next level. Khan and Mckenzie were inspired by the renaissance in South Asian cinema taking place around the world and seized the opportunity to create an avid cinephile audience and community by  launching the Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival (MISAFF). Deepa  Mehta, Ali  Kazimi, Rajkumar Rao, Sami  Khan, Anita  Majumdar, Raymond Ablack, Gabe  Grey, Shireen Pasha, Supinder Wraich and Richie Mehta have been involved in the festival over the years and MISAFF attracts acclaimed international artists like Anu Menon, Rajat Kapoor, Ravi Patel, Afia Nathaniel, Hansal Mehta and Suraj Sharma.  

Full list of films and the schedule at www.MISAFF.com.

 

Night of Power book release on August 20. Book by Anar Ali, Penguin Canada, $24.95

A portrait of a Muslim family – from the heady days in Uganda to hard times in a new country, and the tragic accident that forces them to confront the ghosts of the past 

David Chariandy, author of Brother, praised it as “An especially important and accomplished story....elegant, complex, but propulsive and strongly cinematic.”

“Anar Ali’s Night of Power is a searing and beautiful novel,” wrote Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes and The Illegal. “With perfect pitch, the story glides between the perspectives of father, mother, and son. It is an honest and utterly engaging meditation about love and loss, tenderness and violence, adaptability and delusion, dislocation and rebirth.”

It’s 1998. And Mansoor Visram has lived in Canada for 25 years, ever since dictator Idi Amin expelled South Asians from Uganda. As a refugee with a wife and child, Mansoor has tried his best to recreate the life they once had, but starting over in Canada has been much harder than he expected. He’s worked as a used car salesman, as a gas station attendant, and now he runs a small dry cleaner in suburban Calgary. But he’s hatching plans for a father and son empire that will bring back the wealth and status the Visrams enjoyed in Uganda. The problem is, his son Ashif does not share his dreams, and he’s moved across the country to get away from his father. He’s a rising star at a multinational corporation in Toronto, on the cusp of a life-changing promotion, but he can’t seem to forget his girlfriend from long ago. Mansoor’s wife, Layla, has spent the past decade running her own home cooking business and trying to hold her family together. But Ashif rarely comes home to visit and Mansoor’s pride has almost ruined their marriage. As the fissures that began generations ago – and continents away – reappear, Mansoor, Ashif, and Layla drift further and further apart.

On the Night of Power, a night during Ramadan when fates are decided for the next year, a terrible accident occurs. Will the Visrams survive this latest tragedy? 

Night of Power is a heart-wrenching story of a family in crisis. Gripping and unforgettable, Anar Ali’s debut novel vividly illuminates the injustices of displacement and the nuances of identity – of losing a home and coming home again.

“With Night of Power, Anar Ali tells a truly Canadian story,” said Naheed Nenshi, Mayor of Calgary. “A story of dreams fulfilled and broken, of expectations set and dashed, and ultimately of understanding what really matters. With her signature style, she paints a deep portrait of complex characters you want to get to know better.”

Camilla Gibb, author of several novels, including Sweetness in the Belly described Night of Power as “A deeply moving story of the complications of love, loss, obligation and inheritance that can both bind a family and tear it apart. Written with great compassion for all of its characters, Anar Ali offers us a book that is tender and wise.” 

Anar Ali’s short story collection, Baby Khaki’s Wings, was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, the Trillium Book Award, and the Danuta Gleed Literary Prize. She is a screenwriter and works in film and television, most recently, for a new medical drama from CTV/NBCUniversal. Ali lives in Toronto.

 

Kathak, sarod and tabla on August 30. Sougata Roy Chowdhury (sarod) and Labonee Mohanta (Kathak) present two ancient art forms of North India in this exciting collaboration. Accompanied by Razak Pirani on the tabla. Together in this innovative show, art forms of North India come together to create a powerful and beautiful energy sparked from a tryst of melody, rhythm, and dance. The show will be opened by Toronto Tabla Youth Ensemble. 7:30 pm at Palmerston Library Theatre in Toronto. Tickets $25 at www.torontotabla.com.

 

Aug. 11:  Eid by the Lake Festival. Celebrate Eid-ul -Adha in Durham with Khutba and Salat and then a day of festivities and fun for the entire family and community. Proceeds go towards back to school supplies for children in Guyana. 10 am at Abilities Centre in Whitby. Call Habeeb Alli at 416-823-1738.  

Aug. 11-17: The 38th annual Battery Dance Festival (BDF), above. Free performances from 7-9 pm against the backdrop of New York Harbour at Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park in Battery Park City. Established in 1982, BDF is New York City’s longest-running free public dance festival. This year’s featured artistes include local dance companies as well as dancers from Austria, Argentina, France, India, Lithuania, Netherlands, and Turkey. Tickets for the closing performance are $10 or $65 including after-reception. More information at www.batterydance.org/battery-dance-festival

Aug. 23: Lava Lounge – Rock On! 7 pm. Enjoy the elite club/lounge experience of Lava Lounge events with Rock On! presented by GTA South Asian Media Network. Lava Lounge events incorporate live entertainment, networking with established artistes and industry leaders and end with a dance party. Opening musician for Rock On! is Raagini Appadurai with her sultry voice and electric stage presence. Southern Belle a New Country/Rock band based out of Southern Ontario is the featured band. Appearances from Latin/Reggae singer ‘The Prof’ and pop artist, Julia Tynes. Tickets on Eventbrite page under Lava Lounge - Rock On!

Aug. 17: Book reading by author Krishna Gubili of Viriah, a real-life inspirational story about his lifelong search for his great grandfather who was among the 1.3 million Indians sent as indentured labourers to the British Caribbean. 10:30 am to 12 noon. At Toronto Library, 40 Orchard View Boulevard branch.

Sept. 13-14: Canadian comedy superstar Sugar Sammy returns to perform live in Ontario. He can hit on cultural, social and political themes with such charm and finesse that it allows him to push the envelope a little farther than most, especially in his famous improv moments, which allow him to interact with audiences at every one of his shows, both onstage and after the shows. Tickets: $42.99 - $56.99 at www.sugarsammy.com.

Until Oct. 12:  Hungarian director László Bérczes tackles one of the great American classics, Tennessee Williams’s renowned tragedy The Glass Menagerie, resonating with love, loss, bitterness and heartache. Narrator and aspiring poet Tom Wingfield (André Sills) recalls growing up in a Depression-era Midwest apartment with his shy sister Laura (Julia Course) and their overbearing mother Amanda (Allegra Fulton). Yearning to escape his stifling home and family obligations, Tom pins his hopes on Laura’s ‘gentleman caller’ (Jonathan Tan), only to be forever haunted by the devastating outcome of their encounter. At The Shaw’s Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre. Tickets through the Box Office at 1-800-511-SHAW and online at www.shawfest.com.

Until Oct. 12: Rope, a psychological crime drama by Patrick Hamilton at the Shaw Festival’s Royal George Theatre. Jani Lauzon directs the play that’s loosely based on the infamous Leopold and Loeb 1924 murder case. Inspired by debates surrounding amorality with former teacher Rupert Cadell (Michael Therriault), Wyndham Brandon (Kelly Wong) and Charles Granillo (Travis Seetoo) murder a fellow student – just to see if they can pull it off. Drunk on their arrogance and the thrill of committing the ‘perfect murder’, they throw a party and use the locked wooden chest containing the body to serve the evening’s buffet. Tickets at 1-800-511-SHAW and www.shawfest.com.

 • Free Desi Diary listings. List your event for free in Desi News and e-desinews. com. E-mail: desinews@rogers.com. Deadline for September 2019 listings: Aug. 20, 2019.

 

Celebrate summer at Toronto’s museums

 

Toronto History Museums are giving residents an opportunity to celebrate the season and learn local history.

With a focus on outdoor programs that utilize the curated gardens, tranquil courtyards and beautiful green spaces at each site, activities include The Big Picnic, Staycation Sundays, Dog Days of Summer and a series of guided neighbourhood walks, as well as Raw History Thursdays, Emancipation Day and Simcoe Day events.

Staycation Sundays. On Sunday afternoons from noon to 5 pm, enjoy picnicking and playing in the gardens, courtyards and outdoor spaces of Toronto History Museums. Play cottage games, join a landscape tour or sit back and enjoy an outdoor acoustic music concert. Sample sodas, make art, have your face painted and enjoy live music and dance. Participating museums include Colborne Lodge, Gibson House Museum, Mackenzie House, Scarborough Museum, Montgomery's Inn, Spadina Museum and Todmorden Mills. Admission is free for outdoor events. An admission charge applies to interior tours.

Dog Days of Summer. On August 10, from 10 am to 5 pm, visit Colborne Lodge and Scarborough Museum to celebrate your best furry friends and learn about the history of dogs in Toronto. Dogs and their friends will enjoy a variety of activities including opportunities for pet dress-up selfies, a mini-obstacle course and yummy treats. Admission is free.

Walk into history with curated neighbourhood walks:

Schooners to Skyscrapers. Explore the architectural vestiges of the Fort York neighbourhood where relics of a bygone era remind us of the history and ongoing development in the area. Fort York, on Saturday, August 10, from 10:30 a.m. to noon and on Sunday, August 11, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  Admission is free.

Ghosts and Grenadiers. Come on a twilight walk and hear offbeat stories and some little-known tales of High Park. The tour concludes with behind-the-scenes ghost stories and a Victorian fruit drink inside Colborne Lodge. On Thursdays in August, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Tickets: $15, at https://colbornelodge.streamintickets.com.

Appetizing August. Learn which flowers and herbs on Todmorden Mills’ grounds have been used in the past as part of a wholesome harvest at an event on Sunday, August 11, 1 to 2 pm. Adult, $8; senior/youth, $7; child $5. Advance tickets are available at https://todmordenmills.streamintickets.com.

This summer, Mackenzie House gets a little edgy, racy and raw on Thursday evenings with a new program series called Raw History Thursdays. 

Victorian Secrets. Discover how public disapproval and governmental legislation controlled the desires of the Victorian era. Mackenzie House on August 1 and September 5 from 7 to 9 pm. Tickets, $30, at https://mackenziehouse.streamintickets.com.

Victorian Escape Game. Solve historically-based riddles and puzzles to discover Mackenzie’s location before the Loyalist Militia arrests him. Mackenzie House on August 8 and August 29 at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 pm. Tickets, $30, at https://mackenziehouse.streamintickets.com.

The Victorian Doctor. Explore the medical profession in early Toronto, and the medical advice available at the time. Mackenzie House, on Thursday August 15, from 7 to 9 pm. Tickets, $30, a https://mackenziehouse.streamintickets.com.

Victorian Gothic. From Dracula and Frankenstein to the fear of being buried alive and the fetish of post mortem photos, this interactive tour explores the Victorian obsession with death. Mackenzie House on Thursday August 22 from 7 to 9 pm. Tickets, $30, at https://mackenziehouse.streamintickets.com.

Montgomery’s Inn, Scarborough Museum and Fort York will host Emancipation and Simcoe Day events in August. 

Walking in the Footsteps of Black Victorians. Mackenzie House will celebrate the stories of some of Toronto’s earliest Black residents on this fascinating walking tour of neighbourhood surrounding Mackenzie House. Learn about anti-slavery activist, journalist, publisher, teacher and lawyer Mary Ann Shadd Cary. Mackenzie House on August 4 from 10 am to noon. Admission is free.

Toronto History Museums are a group of 10 museums owned and operated by the City of Toronto that bring Toronto's history to life for residents and visitors. They include Colborne Lodge, Fort York National Historic Site, Gibson House Museum, Mackenzie House, Market Gallery, Montgomery’s Inn, Scarborough Museum, Spadina Museum, Todmorden Mills and Zion Schoolhouse. More information is available at https://www.toronto.ca/museums, or follow Toronto History Museums on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/tohistoricsites, on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/tohistoricsites or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/tohistoricsites.

Full program lineup at www.Toronto.ca/museums-events.

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