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Human resilience in 9 prize-winning films at Surrey’s new Sundar festival

Award-winners named ahead of June dates of inaugural film fest, planned by Sher Vancouver
A scene in the award-winning feature film “Rosie,” about an orphaned Indigenous girl who is forced to live with her reluctant, street-smart, francophone aunty and her two best friends in ‘80s Montreal. (Screenshot)

Nine prize-winning films have been announced two months ahead of screening at the inaugural Sundar Prize Film Festival in Surrey.

“Celebrating Human Resilience” is the theme of the new festival, planned June 15-16 at Surrey City Hall’s Centre Stage theatre.

It’s where “cinema meets social change” during the two-day gathering, a project of Sher Vancouver, a charity for queer South Asians and allies in Metro Vancouver.

Festival organizers say 228 films from around the world were entered for awards totalling more than $15,000. Of the nine winning films, six are Canadian-made including three in the categories of Best B.C. Film, Best Canadian Documentary and Best Emerging Filmmaker.

• RELATED: ‘Uplift our world’: Surrey’s new Sundar film fest to award $15K in prizes next June.

A scene in the award-winning animated film “Unstoppable Beat.” (Screenshot)

The other prize winners, from the U.S. and U.K., “contribute to the rich tapestry of storytelling, ensuring an unforgettable cinematic experience,” festival organizers say in an April 2 news release posted on

“Amidst a world filled with challenges, one enduring truth stands out: the unwavering spirit of human resilience. Our award-winning films encapsulate this essence, portraying narratives where hope triumphs over adversity. As we embark on our very first festival year, we find inspiration in this enduring trait of humanity, a quality that has sustained us for millennia.”

The festival’s category winners, cash awards and film details:

Best Feature Film, $5,000: “Rosie” (Canada, 2022), directed by Gail Maurice, produced by Gail Maurice, Jamie Manning and Mélanie Bray. “Tells the story of a young, orphaned Indigenous girl who is forced to live with her reluctant, street-smart Aunty Fred (Frédérique). Rosie is thrust into the fringes of 1980’s Montréal into the care of Fred, who just lost her job, is on the verge of eviction and who looks and sounds nothing like her.”

Best B.C. Film, $1,500: “Dil Rakh: Gloves of Kin” (Canada, 2023), directed and produced by Dalj Brar. “After spending 20 years in prison, an Indian father attempts to reconcile with his estranged son while they battle racism in a small town.”

Best Animation, $1,000: “Unstoppable Beat” (U.K., 2023), directed by Luke Dye-Montefiore and Rufus Dye-Montefiore, produced by Benjamin Worku-Dix. “Tells the story of a Haitian migrant in Brazil fighting for his rights to work, buy a house and, most importantly, reunite with his family from Haiti.”

Best Student Film, $500: “Dosh” (U.S., 2023), directed by Radha Mehta, produced by Gabriel Gutierrez. “When her son’s life is put at risk at their family’s pre-wedding ritual, a hard-of-hearing mother must decide how to seek help for her husband in order to keep her family safe.”

Best Emerging Filmmaker, $1,000: “Cash Cows” (Canada, 2023), directed by Shubham Chhabra, produced by Kaileigh Coles. “Follow the journey of an Indian immigrant who falls victim to an employment scam. Desperate to secure a permanent residency and a better life, he must confront the true cost of the sacrifices he’s made.” Prize sponsored by KDocsFF.

Best Short Film, $1,500: “A Good Day Will Come” (Canada, 2023), directed by Amir Zargara, produced by Amir Zargara and Iman Tahsin. “Arash is a professional wrestler with dreams of representing his country and winning gold medals. The country is in turmoil and its people are suffering. Arash must decide between using his platform to stand up to tyranny, or put his head down and remain silent.”

Best Canadian Documentary, $2,500: “Eternal Spring” (Canada, 2022), directed by Jason Loftus, produced by Jason Loftus, Masha Loftus, Kevin Koo and Yvan Pinard. “Confronted with government denunciations and human rights violations against their spiritual practice, a group of Chinese activists executes a bold and perilous plan to hack into state television.” Prize sponsored by Rogers Group of Funds.

Best International Documentary, $2,500: “Swallow Flying to the South” (U.S., 2022), directed and produced by Mochi Lin. “Spring 1976, five-year-old Swallow is abandoned at a public boarding preschool in central Beijing. When the persimmons are ripe, Swallow masters how to cry, but doesn’t forget how to fly.”

Best Environmental Film, $1,500: “Rematriation” (Canada, 2022) directed by Alexi Liotti, produced by David Kiess and Derek Pedersson. “Explores scientific, cultural, economic and sociopolitical perspectives, as citizens fight to protect the last big trees in British Columbia from being felled. The lessons we take away permeate the fabric of Canadian identity.”

Film trailers are posted on

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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