Canadian Spotlight: Ali Kazimi

Ali Kazimi is Reel Asian’s Canadian Artist Spotlight in 2021. Appropriately for our 25th festival, the documentary filmmaker, media artist, activist, author, and educator  has been a fixture in the Asian Canadian community, and we celebrate his over three decades of vital contributions to Canadian media. In 2019, Kazimi became the first Indo Canadian to receive the Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in Visual and Media Arts award winner. His documentary and media-arts work deals with race, social justice, migration, and memory, and emphasizes essential connections across racialized communities, between personal and public, through past and present. 

Born, raised, and educated in India, Kazimi came to Canada to study film production at York University in 1983. Two decades later, after receiving over two-dozen awards and honours as an independent filmmaker, Kazimi returned to York, where he is currently an associate professor in the cinema and media arts department.

Reel Asian is pleased to offer a sampling of Kazimi’s seminal documentary films, as well as a suite of talks that will give greater insight into his process, and a viewing of excerpts from new works in progress. 

Inspired by his films’ spirit of friendship and collaboration, Reel Asian is presenting Kazimi’s with our friends and neighbours ImagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival, and South Asian Visual Arts Centre.


Still Indian? In Conversation
Jeffrey Thomas (Iroquois) | Ali Kazimi (Indo-Canadian)
October 20, 2021–November 19, 2021

Artists and friends Jeff Thomas and Ali Kazimi join Métis curator Rhéanne Chartrand and SAVAC executive director, Indu Vashist in conversation, reflecting on the film Shooting Indians and their collaboration, touching upon notions of cross-cultural intersectionality, time, and kinship.

Produced in collaboration by
Reel Asian International Film Festival

10 Nov, 2021

to 19 Nov, 2021



Featured Image for Ali Kazimi: Master class

Ali Kazimi: Master class

Ali Kazimi’s documentaries urge us to see different sides of history. Archival images, gleaned and rescued, have been rich instruments of Kazimi’s storytelling, which focuses on sharing essential perspectives on communities of colour that would otherwise be lost to time. Follow Canadian Spotlight artist Ali Kazimi on a deep dive into his archive-infused films Continuous Journey and Random Acts of Legacy. Topics will include technical looks at film preservation, editing, music composition, and creative considerations of perspective and collaboration.

13 Nov, 2021 6:30 pm

Link to Ali Kazimi: Master class

Shooting Indians

Spanning over a decade from 1984 to 1996, Shooting Indians: A Journey with Jeffrey Thomas is a portrait of Jeffrey Thomas, a self-described “Urban Iroquois” photographer, exploring the influences on his life that led him to his career. The work of Edward Curtis, an American photographer from the turn of the century, forced Thomas to closely examine how Indigenous Peoples had been photographed in the past. Starting the film as a foreign student in 1984, Kazimi begins to unravel the hidden history of the land that he has chosen as his home.

10 Nov, 2021

Link to Shooting Indians
Film still from Shooting Indians showing a person holding a camera
Film still for Continuous Journey showing an old photo of one adult and one young child

Continuous Journey

Continuous Journey is a complex tale of hope, despair, treachery, and tragedy. It is a revealing Canadian story with global ramifications, set in a time when the British Empire seemed omnipresent and its subjects were restless and seeking self-determination. In 1914, Gurdit Singh, a Sikh entrepreneur based in Singapore, chartered a Japanese ship, the Komagata Maru, to carry Indian immigrants to Canada. On May 23, 1914, the ship arrived in Vancouver Harbour with 376 passengers aboard: 340 Sikhs, 24 Muslims, and 12 Hindus. Many of the men aboard were veterans of the British Indian Army, and believed that it was their right as British subjects to settle anywhere in the Empire they had fought to defend and expand. They were wrong…

10 Nov, 2021

Link to Continuous Journey

Random Acts of Legacy

From a pile of deteriorating 16 mm home movies from 1936 to 1951, a moving story emerges of a Chinese American family, set against the backdrop of race and class in Chicago. Rescued from an online auction, the filmmaker’s quest to make sense of these home movies connects him with Irena Lum, the surviving daughter of the graphic artist and collector Silas Henry Fung. The retrieved footage offers an intimate and radically different visual perspective on the Chinese American community in Chicago—with a surprising feminist twist. 

10 Nov, 2021

Link to Random Acts of Legacy
Featured Image for Random Acts of Legacy

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Continuous Journey

Continuous Journey is a complex tale of hope, despair, treachery, and tragedy. It is a revealing Canadian story with global ramifications, set in a time when the British Empire seemed omnipresent and its subjects were restless and seeking self-determination.

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