International South Asian Film Festival: Mannu Sandhu

Mannu Sandhu’s Lens on The International South Asian Film Festival (ISAFF)​

Surrey Through My Lens” proudly shares authentic photo essays that showcase what it is really like to live in and visit our community from a range of perspectives. Mannu Sandhu is the lead producer of Canada’s International South Asian Film Festival.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your personal connection with Surrey? ​

I moved to Surrey with my family from India at age 13 and have lived most of my adult life here. I have always been interested in the world of cultural expression and the arts. I began modelling shortly after high school and was able to build up a substantial database of contacts in the worlds of fashion and film. 

I always knew that in order to create a message and have it heard, seen, and understood, I must become proficient in the medium of film and television. While bringing iSAFF to Surrey, I have found the opportunity to celebrate diversity and inclusion through the power of many storytellers, challenge perceptions and question beliefs while always trying to bring new understanding and compassion to distressed sections of communities in the South Asian diaspora.

Over the years, I have also been actively involved with charities and non-profit organizations such as the BC Children’s Hospital, Sikh Blood Donation; Pakistan Flood Relief, Salvation Army, Operation Canada and Mannkind Charitable Society, an organization that helps children born with facial deformities.

What does The International South Asian Film Festival (iSAFF) look like through your lens? ​

Since 2010 we’ve been building this journey, and now with a new name and new goals, we’re reaching even more hearts. At iSAFF 2023, our goal is simple: to light up screens with incredible stories and grow our community. Join us as we celebrate films, embrace a community of storytellers, and honour everyone pushing limits in their own ways. We’re determined to make this year’s festival unforgettable!

From the Discover Surrey Team:

Check out Discover Surrey’s page about the event or visit the iSAFF website for more information about the event. There is so much to see and do! 

What does it feel like to attend iSAFF?​

As one of the largest South Asian film festivals in North America, iSAFF is more than just a showcase of cinematic brilliance; it’s a platform for South Asian artists to shine and for stories to be told. It’s a testament to our vision of building a stronger multicultural society and economy through the transformative power of arts and culture.

From the Discover Surrey Team:

There are multiple options for tickets ranging from single show tickets to full-event passes (The Crescent Pass). There is even an exclusive all-access pass (The Fraser Pass)

How does the shared experience at the festival help to build Surrey’s community mosaic?​

iSAFF has brought home brilliant filmmakers and storytellers over the years. One of the key events of the festival, our Opening Gala Night on September 29, has always been a night of elegance and allure that epitomizes the festival’s celebration of diversity and inclusion. This soirée is not just an event; it’s an experience, an evening where conversations spark, connections flourish, and dreams are set in motion. This year, attendees will be in the company of industry influencers, artists, and visionaries who are shaping the landscape of South Asian cinema around the world.

What is something people may not know about iSAFF?​

Established in 2010, iSAFF is a cultural milestone that celebrates South Asian cinema and promotes diversity and inclusion through the medium of film, arts, and culture. This year, iSAFF unveiled the theme “Pathbreakers” to celebrate individuals and stories that defy convention and inspire change in all aspects of life. Additionally, iSAFF will feature many firsts for any South Asian film festival, including:

  • A spotlight on social media content creators and influencers, who are at the forefront of dynamic, boundary-pushing storytelling and social commentary.
  • Wellness activities lounge for filmmakers and artists to focus on radical acts of self-care and rejuvenation.
  • Talks and Q&A sessions with a variety of South Asian artists that dig deeper into topics rarely discussed at such festivals.

Also, industry speed networking events where filmmakers, artists, and other industry professionals can connect with specific goals and meetings.

From the Discover Surrey Team:

Don’t miss out on the Opening Gala, too! This “dress to impress” event is a chance to socialize with guests, enjoy scrumptious food & drinks, and celebrate all the Pathbreakers. Get your tickets here!

Lastly, what inspires you to share Your Surrey through the experiences you help bring to life?​

Our community is the sole reason behind all the experiences and the fact that this community gets a chance to experience the work of South Asian filmmakers through the medium of iSAFF gives me immense satisfaction. The community in Surrey has been very accepting of all the work that iSAFF has been bringing for many years and this is nothing but gratifying for me.

Building Community

By highlighting authentic South Asian stories, and those extraordinary individuals who have exceeded expectations and broken barriers in the film industry, the International South Asian Film Festival is helping to pave the way for Surrey’s upcoming South Asian filmmakers, actors and writers.

Check out the Other Lenses on Surrey​

Check out the other lenses on Surrey’s six neighbourhoods – new features are released regularly. Click the link below to learn more about the project and find the galleries for the other neighbourhoods.