Superstorm Sandy has thrown a wrench into Vancouver’s inaugural South Asian Film Festival, with two of India’s most renowned musicians stranded in the U.S. and forced to cancel plans to perform here.
“I am absolutely heart sick,” said Hannah Fisher, the festival’s co-founder and artistic director, of the cancellation by brothers Rajan and Sajan Mishra, who were to appear on opening night Wednesday and are the stars of the documentary Adwait Sangeet (Two Voices, One Soul).
The brothers fled storm-stricken New York and were stranded Tuesday in Philadelphia. When they finally do get a flight out, it will be to London, where they are scheduled for a concert.
“I am so disappointed,” said Fisher on Tuesday. “I have followed their music. I have so many of their LPs and CDs.
They are just wonderful musicians and they are so renowned.
They are so respected in classical music circles and to have them agree to come was really such a gift.”
The festival will go on without the musicians and possibly without a few other filmmakers trying to make it in from Toronto, where the storm also hit with a vengeance.
“What can we do with Mother Nature?” Fisher asked. “I can’t hold the tides back. I wish I could.”
Other filmmakers like Teri McLuhan, the daughter of the late Toronto media visionary Marshall McLuhan, have had to hastily readjust travel plans to cope with the storm which has cancelled or delayed many flights out of New York and Toronto.
McLuhan, who is based in New York, was supposed to arrive Tuesday for the festival where her film Frontier Gandhi, about a little-known peacemaker from the area straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan, is to be shown. Now she is hoping to land on Thursday.
Sri Lankan director Priyan-kara Vittanachchi, whose film Sam’s Story is to be shown, was trying to arrange a flight out of Toronto, Fisher added.
Officials say it could be days before airports clear the backlog.
Lalita Krishna, who has made a film about the phenomenon of burgeoning shopping malls in India, tried to beat the storm by booking an earlier flight out of Toronto, but was unsuccessful.
Now she is hoping to get into Vancouver on Wednesday.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed but who knows what is going to happen?” she said.
The entire experience has been unsettling.
“The storm here was pretty bad Monday. That was quite scary.”
Krishna said if she doesn’t arrive on schedule Wednesday, she will have to shuffle various media interviews. “I’ll have to find a way to tell them I am not coming. It’s going to have a spiral effect.”
Fortunately, another star attraction, Jaya Bachchan, a member of the Indian Parliament and the wife of legendary Indian film actor Amitabh Bach-chan, is still arriving as planned from London. She will be in conversation with former Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh Thursday at the VIFF International Film Centre, 1181 Seymour St.
“We’re continuing,” said the festival’s Fisher. “The festival is going on.”
The South Asian Film Festival starts Wednesday and wraps up Sunday in four locations: Empire Granville 7 at 855 Granville St., Empire Theatre Guildford, Towne Cinema in Abbotsford and the VIFF International Film Centre.
For more information, visit www.saffcanada.org.