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Surrey festival returns with films featuring women ‘as strong, empowered, realistic characters’

Third annual Shakti festival Oct. 7-8 at Surrey City Hall theatre
A scene from the movie “Viral World,” featured during this year’s Shakti Film Festival in Surrey. (Submitted photo)

Surrey’s Shakti Society is back with another festival of films made by, and focused on, women.

The third annual Shakti Film Festival will be held at Surrey City Hall’s Centre Stage theatre for two days, Oct. 7-8, in celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child. Admission is by donation in advance, also at the door.

The festival aims to promote women filmmakers, including directors, producers, writers and production crew, and “films that portray women as strong, empowered, and realistic characters.”

Festival director Niti Nielsen says Shakti Society has addressed the influence of media and films on violence against women and the stereotyping of women.

“So we will be focusing and promoting films that showcase women in strong roles as well as female-identifying filmmakers’ work, which often goes unrecognized due to barriers like race, colour, finances, language, disability, sexual orientation and various health issues including mental health,” Nielsen explained.

Last year’s festival, held online, featured five films over two days.

Back in-person this year at Centre Stage, prizes of $100 will be awarded to the Best Film, Best Student Film, Best Documentary Film and Best Short Film. A call for entries ended Sept. 24 on, where the titles of six featured films are posted.

The movies “Mug,” “Pass” and “#Viral World” will be shown on Friday, Oct. 7, and the festival’s second day (Saturday, Oct. 8) will feature “Bereft,” “Giti Jan” and “Rabiye Kurnaz Vs George W. Bush.”

In Andreas Dresen’s “Rabiye Kurnaz Vs George W. Bush,” the battle for the release of her son from Guantanamo catapults Turkish-German housewife Rabiye Kurnaz into world politics and all the way to the Supreme Court in Washington. At the side of this “temperamental Turkish mother with a wicked sense of humour” is Bernhard Docke, a reserved, level-headed human-rights lawyer now fighting to get Murat out of Guantanamo. The script is based on a true story.

Directed by Brijesh Chandhra Tangi, a software engineer turned filmmaker, the feature film “#Viral World” is described as a suspense relationship drama that opens with a 24-year old girl jumping off a building. The whole story happens over computer screens, a series of video calls, several YouTube videos, a collection of social-media stories and a bunch of text messages. “This story is about how relationships drift apart on the virtual world,” says Sonia Andhi, lead director of the festival.

Tickets can be purchased by donation in an email sent to

Shakti Society acknowledges the financial support of the City of Surrey in making their festival possible.

• RELATED STORY, from 2020: New festival in Surrey focuses on women in film, both behind camera and on screen.

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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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