Scriptwriting student receives $14,000 grant for short film

Aftab Abbasi's film is one of three to receive prestigious award from International Film Festival of South Asia
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Photo of Aftab Abbasi

Second-year Algonquin College scriptwriting student Aftab Abbasi has received a $14,000 grant from the International Film Festival of South Asia to fund his upcoming short film.

The script for Abbasi’s short film The Heart Smiles was submitted to the International Film Festival of South Asia’s Bright Lights Program, where it was placed among the 10 finalists.

The proposals of the 10 films were evaluated by a board of established filmmakers from both Canada and the international community. The Heart Smiles was one of three short films to win this prestigious award.

Abbasi discovered the Bright Lights Program when he was looking for opportunities to fund his film.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity that the IFFSA has given me. I’ve been sitting on this idea for a while. About three years,” Abbasi said.

The IFFSA is a film festival located in Toronto that celebrates films by South Asian filmmakers. The Bright Lights Program supports upcoming South Asian filmmakers by providing funding as well as assistance from their board of established filmmakers.

Celebrating its 13th anniversary this October, the IFFSA has continued to provide a large platform for South Asian filmmakers. “The IFFSA is the biggest film festival for South Asians in North America,” Abbasi said.

Abbasi has studied many fields related to filmmaking, including visual effects. He has studied visual effects and editing at Fanshawe College in London, Ont.

In addition to studying in Canada, Abbasi has studied filmmaking internationally. He received a bachelor’s in filmmaking from the National College of Arts in Pakistan and has also studied in Germany.

“I have studied in three continents pursuing the dream of becoming a filmmaker,” Abbasi said.

The Heart Smiles is a romantic comedy about an elderly couple who undertake a journey of love and self-discovery.

The short film is set to premiere at the next IFFSA, which will occur from Oct. 10 to Oct. 20, 2024. A screening of the film at Algonquin College at a later date has been discussed.

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