Monday, May 4, 2009

Toronto Screening

I landed to a cloudy and rainy Toronto on Thursday, the day of the screening. My ride navigated the MapQuest printout in the midst of the chaos of traffic. We arrived 20 minutes late to the screening at York University but once the event got started, all went really well. The film is one hour long and I spent the four hours following answering questions. Yes, FOUR hours. And I write "four" in caps not because it was too much or too long but because it was a pleasant and unexpected surprise of how much enthusiasm, I interpreted, there still is for the film/my journey.

It was nice to see quite a few Torontonians who have been key supporters of the film from the outset. Akber Kassim-Lakha came to see the film (he featured in the film as the boy who was being advised by the Aga Khan in 1961). Akber was trying to make it to the world premiere at Harvard in Dec 2007 but an ice storm in Montreal prevented a timely arrival and thus he missed the first screening. This time, he weathered the weather to make it.

Some friends from college were also in the audience. It is always nice to have friends from a previous period in your life still standing by you. Distance and age can diminsh a friendship but hopefully not with your closest of closest friends.

The crowd was mainly Ismaili students from York but there was still a sizeable number of adults who must have commuted to see the film/Q+A. Dr Zukfikar Hirji, author of the Institute of Ismaili Studies' book the Illustrated History of the Ismailis moderated the Q+A and he fielded many questions such as 'what was the toughest part of my journey', 'how was it to interview the Aga Khan' and 'when is part 2 and part 3 coming out?!' A novel question I got was 'why did we have a Western voice narrate the film?' The answer I gave was because VisionTV, a funding broadcaster and the first channel to play the film on its networks, asked us to but also because the citizens of Western countries were my primary target audience with my premise try to to offer a counterbalance when so many documentaries are coming out in the West showing only violent elements in the Muslim World. This film is also for many other peoples, I said, and that is why we translated the film into 10 languages: so we could reach the widest audience possible.

After that moderated Q+A, many people came up to me afterwards to ask new questions or to follow-up on previous ones.

I hope the audience enjoyed the event as much as I did!

2 comments:

Khatidja said...

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the screening and would really like to see it. Is it possible to purchase the DVD in Toronto.

Shamir Allibhai said...

Hi, DVDs can be bought from: http://www.agakhanfilm.org/buy_now.asp