Impact Filmmaking: Exploring the Relationship Between Art and Activism

26 May 2019 | Innis Town Hall, University of Toronto

Event Poster

FEATURE: 3 Seconds Divorce
Winner of the Audience Award at the 2018 Reelworld Film Festival
Director: Shazia Javed 

An age-old practice allows Muslim men in India to divorce their wives unilaterally by simply stating the word talaq three times consecutively. The only way for a couple to live together after this is for the woman to perform halala. Halala requires the divorced woman to get married to another man and get divorced again after the new marriage is consummated. The entire process leaves no space for a woman’s agency nor does it establish any rights for her. Frustrated with lack of initiative from the government or religious leaders to stop this; Muslim women in India organize and start a movement to reclaim their religious and constitutional rights. 3 Seconds Divorce tell this story through the journey of Lubna—a present day activist and former victim of triple-talaq who makes personal sacrifices to continue her activism. The documentary also provides a behind the scene glimpse at the growing Indian Muslim women’s movement as it navigates between orthodox Muslim leadership and a polarized political environment in India.

Screening followed by Q&A with Director Shazia Javed and community activists:

  • Farheen Khan, Founder, Women’s Mosque of Canada
  • Nuzhat Jafri, Executive Director, Canada Council of Muslim Women
  • Deepa Mattoo, Executive Director, Barbra Schlifer Clinic
  • Modetator: Emily-Jane Williams, Reelworld

FEATURE: When the Storm Fades
Director: Sean Devlin

Several years after the strongest storm in history, the Pablos have rebuilt their seaside home in Tacloban, one of the Philippines’ ‘poorest neighbourhoods.’ Their slow recovery is shaken up by two awkward Canadian volunteers planting trees in the community. This white couple is learning the difference between helping and actually being helpful. Part comedic fiction, part documentary re-enactment, the result is a satirical examination of the white saviour complex and a quiet meditation on grief in the era of climate change. The third microbudget feature film from Filipino-Canadian director Sean Devlin, an artist arrested numerous times by the Canadian government for his creative interventions on climate change. When The Storm Fades is a prefigurative production that continues to improve the economic quality of life for the storm survivors that star in the film. A story about our interconnected global responsibility, and resisting the urge to look away after natural disaster. The film is equal parts touching, emotional and hilarious.

Screening followed by Q&A with community activists:

  • Emmay Mah, Executive Director, Toronto Environmental Alliance
  • Kenneth Cardenas, Graduate Associate, York University’s York Centre for Asian Research
  • Esther Lambert, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Geography & Planning, The University of Toronto
  • Moderator: Ammar Keshodia, Reelworld


Shazia Javed is an award-winning Indo-Canadian filmmaker. Her docu-short ‘Namrata’ was produced by the National Film Board of Canada and was a finalist for three Alberta Media Production Industry awards. Her short film, ‘Can you hear me?’ won the first prize at Visual Arts Mississauga’s 39th Annual Juried Show of Fine Arts. She is also the winner of 2017 MARTY award hosted by Mississauga Arts Council. Shazia’s work has screened at international film festivals such as Hot Docs, DOXA, Global Visions, and Durban International among many others. Shazia has a MFA in Film from York University.

Director Sean Devlin is a Filipino-Canadian filmmaker and comedian. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, CTV as well as online platforms like Buzzfeed and Upworthy. His first feature film, ‘Zach and Avery’ (2003) was a selection of the Paris/Berlin Rencontres Internationales for New Cinema and Contemporary Art and won Best Comedy/Drama at Illinois’ Black Earth Film Festival. In 2016, Devlin was commissioned by Cabaret Voltaire to participate in their celebrations of the 100 year anniversary of DaDa.

Presented by the Asian Heritage Month-Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Inc. in partnership with Reelworld Film Festival. Programmed by Tonya Williams, Executive and Creative Director, Reelworld Film Festival

Organizers: Asian Heritage Month—Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Inc., Social Services Network in partnership with Reelworld Film Festival Co-Organizers: Asian Heritage Month—Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Inc.; Reelworld Film Festival; Richard Charles Lee Canada Hong Kong Library, University of Toronto; Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto; Social Services Network

Asian Heritage Month Festival is partially funded by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

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