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Surrey director’s ‘Emergence’ doc film aims to educate about South Asians who grow up gay

The award-winning movie will play during Surrey’s Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival
Surrey resident Vinay Giridhar directed the new documentary movie, “Emergence: Out of the Shadows,” which sheds light on three South Asian adults (Kayden, Jag and Amar) and their stories of growing up gay. (Photo:

A new film that offers rare insight and voice for parents of gay and lesbian South Asians is the debut documentary feature made by its Surrey-based director.

November is busy for Vinay Giridhar and his “Emergence: Out of the Shadows,” to be screened several times in the Metro Vancouver area, including Surrey’s mid-month Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival (

Filmed in and around Surrey, the compelling, brave movie sheds light on three South Asian adults (Kayden, Jag and Amar) and their stories of growing up gay.

“The parents address how ‘coming out’ is not only life-changing for their children but also life-altering for the parents who are often left with broken dreams and unanswered questions,” notes Giridhar, who lives in Newton.

“So educating the parents and extended families about issues faced by their queer children is crucial in providing compassion, healing as well as societal acceptance, towards these individuals.”

The documentary debuts at Vancouver Asian Film Festival on Sunday, Nov. 7, and is the closing film of Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival, at Surrey City Hall on Nov. 14. The movie will also be shown at North Delta Centre for the Arts on Nov. 20, in another “community screening,” and in October it was viewed by close to 150 students at Surrey’s LA Matheson Secondary, as part of the school’s “Mustang Justice” initiative.

In addition to directing “Emergence: Out of the Shadows,” Giridhar also edited the film.

“It was a huge challenge bringing three different storylines together to bring out one cohesive film, without losing the essence of the individual stories,” he explained.

An animator, graphic designer and illustrator by trade, Giridhar arrived in Canada from India about a decade ago, enrolling at Vancouver Film School.

“I’ve always wanted to do something more with animiation, so all my schooling was for that, too,” Giridhar said. “But since I came to Canada, it was really hard for me to break into the film industry.”

Along the way he met and worked with Alex Sangha, who is “Amar” in “Emergence” and serves as the movie’s producer, with Sher Films. A North Deltan, Sangha also produced the 2018 documentary film My Name Was January, which focused on the life and murder of Surrey-raised transgender woman January Marie Lapuz.

• RELATED STORY, from 2018: Surrey-raised murder victim remembered in new documentary film.

“I worked on that movie as well, the poster and graphics,” Giridhar said, “and we wanted to do another one, discussing what we could do. The idea came about for me to do it, direct it, becuase I was working with (Sangha) already, for so long, and he trusted me with it. I appreciate it.”

So far, the feedback for “Emergence” has been “amazing,” the director related.

It’s getting some awards, so it’s a very big deal for me – for us, everyone involved,” Giridhar said.

“We’ve been hitting a home run with the South Asian festivals, and I’m really pleased with that because that’s a community we’re really focusing on, to spread the message of the film,” he added.

“We’re also going to work on making short films on the three subjects in the movie, to split those three stories into three shortened movies, to go into high schools with those, and universities, for discussions with a lot of people. They’ll be about a half-hour each, to go into classrooms, as an educational tool. I’m excited about that.”

For more about Giridhar and his work, visit

Until Nov. 14, the 11-day Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF) offers a hybrid of virtual and in-theatre events, showcasing 88 films.

In Surrey, Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival returns Nov. 11-14 with feature films, documentaries and shorts. Event details are posted to

“VISAFF originated in 2008 to ‘bridge the gap’ between South Asian talent and mainstream audiences by connecting directors, actors, producers, community organizations, corporate brands and South Asian cinephiles,” says the festival’s YouTube channel.”

It’s a “forward-thinking storytelling festival and we have been supporting work that goes beyond the Bollywood screen for many years. Year after year, the Festival pursues new ways to support artists and introduce more people to original, authentic South Asian storytelling.”

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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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