Bridging Culture Through Cinema

Grant from ECF helps the Edmonton movie Club present its annual India Film Festival across Alberta

From its very beginnings, Edmonton Movie Club’s motto has been “bridging culture through cinema”. And since 2012, they’ve done just that: The club has screened hundreds of independent and regional films from India, celebrated and supported filmmakers, offered workshops, and recently, expanded its presence beyond Edmonton to other cities and provinces.

Their work is anchored by the yearly India Film Festival, which typically offers the red carpet glitz of a marquee film event. In the initial stages of the pandemic, it looked like the festival simply wasn’t going to be able to happen.

“Initially we were thinking, let’s not do anything this year,” said Madhan Selvaraj, the Movie Club’s executive director. “That was the feeling.”

But as the pandemic forecast stretched further into the future, the Movie Club decided instead to get creative and work around it. In partnership with the Film And Video Arts Society of Alberta (FAVA), and thanks to funding from Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF), Edmonton Movie Club transformed their usual India Film Festival into a hybrid model that happened across Alberta in September. A combination of drive-in screenings and online showcases allowed them to safely share cinema during the pandemic.

5 “We collaborate with different organizations all the time, but this year, the key I felt was creative collaboration,” Selvaraj says.

The costs of that approach, though, were high. So to support the project, ECF granted $22,200 from its COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund (RRF). ECF began strategic COVID-19 granting on March 19, 2020. Since then, ECF has provided more than $4 million in funding to Edmonton’s charitable sector to help the city’s most vulnerable during the pandemic.

Edmonton Movie Club and FAVA also received a second grant from the Rapid Response Fund: $30,000 to support the creation of a film, Red Wine. With filming set to begin in November, it’s an opportunity for technicians and artists — whose industries have been decimated by the pandemic — to work a gig in a time when those are few and far between.

“We got this idea during the festival,” Selvaraj says. “How about we do this to keep arts alive, right? Artists have got to be working

“I think collaboration is key, and creative collaboration needs to continue,” he continues. “That’s the only way we can get through these very tough times.”