The "Ma Boli International Punjabi Film Festival" came to Surrey, B.C. a few weeks ago to showcase short Punjabi films and documentaries from around the world. The films were not your typical Bollywood song and dance. They touched on arranged marriages, gender inequality, intergenerational housing, international Indian student experiences, the Komagata Maru and environmental issues. As a Canadian-born Indian, I had never seen nor was I aware that such powerful, thought-provoking films were being made in Punjabi.
Sign up for our newsletter
The format of the festival encouraged public discussions about the issues presented in the films. The diverse audience of children, students, seniors, mothers, politicians, academics and community workers allowed for rich discussions about issues that typically get swept under the rug. It also introduced a new generation to what Punjabi filmmaking is all about — raising awareness about issues impacting the community and changing how we view the world.
The environment was a large part of the festival. A short film titled "Eco Punjab" showcased how the 1960s so-called "green revolution" is still negatively impacting the health and livelihood of people in India today. For the audience, it was an eye-opening realization that if we do not respect our planet's resources, the cumulative results will have lasting negative impacts for many future generations.
As a representative for DSF, I spoke about the important role the film industry plays in telling stories and pushing the environmental movement forward. Much of what we believe comes from what society tells us, and the film industry can help change those societal norms.
I also spoke about how we can change some of those norms by getting reconnected with nature and joining the 30×30 Nature Challenge — to get outside in nature for 30 minutes every day for 30 days. Not only does spending time outdoors make us happier and healthier, but by connecting with nature we can better understand what we risk to lose. We encouraged the audience to start now and take a walk in nature after the film!
Check out the short promo video that was displayed before each film: