Kedar Pagaddinnimath: Safal a first ever fest showcasing eight countries and their rich culture and art in May

By Neeru Saluja

The cultures of eight countries is coming to you right here. Thanks to the Australian South Asian Forum (ASAF), Australia will have its first South Asia specific integrated Film, Arts and Literature festival.

The launch of the South Asian Film, Arts and Literature Festival (SAFAL) will take place on 20-21 May 2017 at Macquarie University. With a vision of celebrating the rich diverse arts and culture of the South Asian region comprising the nations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, SAFAL will be a platform for artists to showcase their talent.

We spoke to Kedar Pagaddinnimath, who is the co-founder of ASAF about the SAFAL FEST, and asked him to tell us about the highlights and how can artists and students participate in this festival.

Congratulations on being the co-founder of ASAF and SAFAL Fest Director of Performing Arts. What is the aim of this festival?

The aim of the festival is to celebrate diversity. It gives a single platform for the eight countries to achieve greater cohesion, assimilation, cultural recognition and economic empowerment. This would promote improved understanding between the various South Asian communities in Australia and within the general community. Through this festival, we are seeking all these communities to come together to display their rich culture via mediums like fine arts, music, poetry, dance, drama and literature.

How did the inception of the festival start?

The SAFAL festival is an initiative of Ashish Gholkar the current President of the Australian South Asian Forum  and myself being  Co-Founders of ASAF   which was incorporated in 2012 (as a not for profit organisation) to bring the South Asian communities together.  We also felt that there was no platform for empowering these communities and in order to showcase the rich talent and culture in the Field of Film, Arts, Literature under a single platform truly brought about the inception of the SAFAL fest. The support from John Alexander Federal Member for Bennelong, some small funding from City of Ryde,   the Commonwealth department of   communities and Arts, and support from Macquarie University gave SAFAL FEST a kick start. We have a strong united team  headed by Nilal Jayasinghe as festival director, Rekha Rajvanshi as the Director Literature, Maryam Popal, Roshan Tilekeratne,   Priya Pagaddinnimath, Palindee Jayasinghe,  Imtiaz Kais Risha, Aditi Shenoy  and of course the Macquarie University team   headed by Prof. Richie Howitt and our event partner Rass events.

During the span of the two day festival, what will be showcased?

There is something for every age group in this festival.  The festival will be inaugurated by John Alexander and attended by dignitaries. The two day festival will include screening of two award winning films ”“ Tezaab from India and Ho Gaana Pokuna from Sri Lanka. There will also be competitions for talent hunt (singing, solo, duet, dance) and short films and masterclasses from an acclaimed director. We will also recognise outstanding artists from the community with the ASAF awards hosted by ABC presenter Del Irani. The festival will also highlight performances by renowned South Asian artists specialising in literature, arts, photography, drama, music and dance.  One important thing to mention is there is plenty of free parking at the University Campus during the festival period and most of the events are free. There will also be food stalls where you can come and taste the exotic cuisine of south Asia.

How can the various communities participate in this festival?

We are looking forward to all communities to actively participate in this festival. People who are interested in showcasing their talent can go to our website for more details. The website includes registration forms for the talent hunt and short film competitions.

As the event is happening at Macquarie University, what is the participation and involvement from the staff and students of the University?

The Macquarie University has a huge contribution in supporting this festival as organising Partner headed by Professor Richard Howitt from the Department of Geography and Planning, Dr Iqbal Barkat from the Dept of Media, Music, and Multicultural studies and from significant students bodies representing South Asian Countries and non South Asian countries representing true harmony and multicultural spirit. In fact we have student volunteers from Chinese and Vietnamese communities assisting in the organisation of the festival. The student groups are also participating by showcasing their culture via music and dance.

Bringing in your experience as the member of the NSW Multicultural Regional Advisory Council and the Ryde Harmony Reference Group, how would you like to focus on the importance of multiculturalism in our society?

I have always been very passionate about promoting multiculturalism in our society. We are very fortunate to live in a country that everyday celebrates the various cultures that co-exist harmoniously and am a strong supporter of “Racism It stops with you”. As a   member of these prestigious groups, I’m bringing in my passion and values that I have learnt over the years by bringing these countries together through the medium of Film, Arts and Literature and music which would create better understanding, tolerance and harmony in the Australian Community at large which has always been   my dream.

What message would you like to give via this festival?

This the first time ever we are bringing eight countries together on one single platform. Our message is to foster greater understanding between the communities of different countries. We strongly believe in social cohesion, assimilation and this is the message we want to portray through the festival.


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