SURREY — A new documentary film about murdered Surrey teen Maple Batalia makes its Canadian debut here this month.
The 47-minute movie, called “Maple” and directed by Jasleen Kaur, will be featured at the Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival, held from Nov. 16 to 19 at Surrey City Hall.
Batalia, an aspiring health-sciences student and actress/model, was killed by an ex-boyfriend in 2011. She was 19.
“‘Maple’ tells the story of a girl whose passion for life was unparalleled, and who had an impact on everyone she encountered during her short life,” says a post in the “Maple: A Documentary” Facebook page.
“In the film, we hear from prominent members of the community, including Barinder Rasode and Pink Orchid Studio’s Shannon Mann and Harp Sohal. It sheds light on prevalent issues in the community, such as gender inequality and domestic violence, particularly in the South Asian community.”
Kaur’s documentary is different from a film being made by Mani Amar that will dramatize the final 24 hours of Batalia’s life.
In mid-October, “Maple” was premiered at the Tasveer South Asian Film Festival in Renton, WA.
In Surrey, the Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival was launched 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,” according to a post at visaff.ca.
This year, the seventh annual festival’s opening-night gala on Nov. 16 will feature an appearance by Bollywood actor Huma Qureshi.
“Maple” will be screened at the festival on Nov. 18, along with “Help Wanted,” a Jacquile Kambo-directed short film about a Punjabi teenager “who gets involved in his local gang in order to support his fragmented family, when his unemployed and abusive father fails to do so.”
The festival, produced by Mannu Sandhu with the help of a board of directors and other team members, is described on the website (visaff.ca) as “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.”
In total, more than two dozen films will be shown during the festival.
Films to be shown on the evening of Nov. 17 are director Sonu Bajwa’s short “No Way To Return” and Nabeel Qureshi’s feature “Actors in Law,” about an aspiring actor, estranged from his attorney father, who poses as a lawyer who becomes a celebrity for taking on difficult cases.
Other films featured during the festival include the web series “Welcome to Surrey,” a documentary called “The Snake Charmer” (which follows Amir Khan “on a journey through India’s TV and Bollywood film industry”), “The Valley” (a story of immigrant entrepreneur Neal Kumar and his family, “who live in the technologically driven culture that is Silicon Valley”) and Sanjay Patel’s “Union Leader,” about a chemical plant worker who takes action against toxic working conditions.