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Judges ‘moved to tears’ by Surrey-filmed music video, big winner at famed SXSW festival

At Texas event, Desirée Dawson’s ‘Meet You At the Light’ topped entries by Dua Lipa, Lil Nas X, others
Ishaval Gill and her father, Kamaldevinder Gill, star in Desirée Dawson’s award-winning music video, “Meet You At the Light.” (Photo:

An emotionally powerful music video made by artists with Surrey and White Rock roots has won a grand prize at the famed SXSW festival.

Desirée Dawson’s “Meet You At the Light” earned the festival’s Short Film Grand Jury Award for Music Videos during an awards event held at Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday evening (March 15).

The Alexander Farah-directed video was in a category with 24 entries that included music by Lil Nas X (“Montero”), Tyler, The Creator (“Corso”) and a Pop Smoke/Dua Lipa collaboration (“Demeanor”), among others.

“We were all moved to tears by this powerful story from a first-time music video director,” judges say about Dawson’s video, which features “beautiful performances, editing and cinematography.”

The video is “a bittersweet and heartfelt portrait of a young woman and her diabetic father,” as introduced on Vimeo.

Meet You At The Light | Desirée Dawson from Alexander Farah on Vimeo.

Dawson grew up in White Rock, and the video producers are Surrey-raised filmmakers Kashif Pasta and Shyam Valera, whose Dunya Media company aims to “empower artists of colour to tell stories with purpose.”

Friends who met at Tamanawis Secondary in Newton, Pasta and Valera celebrated in Austin on Tuesday.

“The video was shot in Surrey and Abbotsford, at our houses, with a real father and daughter,” Pasta raved.

“The award is an incredible endorsement to be able to take our other stories even further, and makes bigger players in the industry pay attention and also opens the door to bigger conversations,” he added.

On social media, the festival got the video title wrong – it’s “Meet You at the Light,” not “Meet Me at the Light.”

Elsewhere on Twitter, Pasta was “absolutely floored” Tuesday.

”Truly speechless,” he tweeted. “It means the world to have won with a project where we put our all into repping where we’re from.

“Winning is an honour, but winning for the project where we let go and gave our all to a no-compromise version of South Asian storytelling? Shot in our hood?? Means the world.”

The award-winning video focuses on the eldest child and primary caregiver to her ailing father. “She wears this badge with nobility and honour despite how challenging it may be to navigate her father’s mental, physical and emotional well-being,” says a bio on the festival’s website.

The video cast includes Ishaval Gill and her father, Kamaldevinder Gill, along with Harinder Saini, Balinder Johal and Shrey Vyas.

Back in 2016, in a project that aimed to put Surrey in a better light, Pasta and Valera were the creative forces behind the comedic “Welcome to Surrey,” one of 30 projects in the Telus-backed Storyhive contest.

They’d met at Tamanawis a decade earlier, and by 2013 were SFU students with plans to launch a “Creative Surrey” venture. Their Dunya Media channel was started on Youtube as a portal for their short comedies and social commentaries.

“I’ve moved to the States, and was in Seattle during COVID, and I’m moving to Los Angeles soon,” Pasta noted, “but we’re still in Surrey too – based there, and that’s where we’re from.”

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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