The Central Alberta arts community is about to receive a brand new way to promote films, filmmaking and the artists behind the camera.
The Central Alberta Film Festival (CAFF) is a new not-for-profit organization that has been created to support, promote and educate the community on local filmmakers and the many genres they produce. The group was created by Ranjit Mullakady, founder and president and Naeem Rabbani, festival director.
The group has been in the works for some time and is proud to finally announce their presence in the community.
“We know that there is no lack of talent in Central Alberta – there are artists, visual artists, actors and filmmakers. We want to provide them with a platform to showcase their work. At the same time, we want to educate the audience so they can become aware and involved,” said Rabbani.
Both Rabbani and Mullakady have extensive experience within the filmmaking industry. Mullakady worked in Bollywood for approximately seven years as a production manager before moving to Canada. Rabbani has worked as a documentary filmmaker for nearly 20 years, working in Canada for the last five.
“I came to Canada with the dream that I could continue with my life in filmmaking,” said Mallakady.
“When I came to Red Deer nobody spoke my language or was making films or doing production. I was kind of disappointed. My mission is to create momentum for visual arts in the community and support the local filmmakers, and the kids. Canadians have supported me for the last 15 years and it’s time to give something back to the community. I want to do that by supporting local art through CAFF.”
Rabbani said he’s been making documentaries and films for about 20 years now, but is always excited to learn about the industry. After studying graphic design in Ontario, he moved to Red Deer where he met up with Mullakady and together they crafted the loose idea of the Central Alberta Film Festival into a now concrete organization.
To welcome Central Albertans to CAFF, the team is hosting a gala event on March 16th. The Red Carpet Affair to Remember event will take place at the West Point Conference Centre from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., with tickets at $50. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served and guests are encouraged to dress up for the red carpet-style event.
“This is a red carpet community introduction event that is going to provide insight into how people work in film,” explained Rabbani.
“We want people to understand the visual medium that we focus on, so we will have films and photos and all sorts of graphics available. We have an emcee and a few local filmmakers who will be telling us about their project, and how CAFF can support them.”
Rabbani said they are also expecting a teaser film from a local filmmaker’s upcoming production.
“We want to present ourselves as a community culture project and introduce ourselves. We want to be able to answer any questions people might have, and seek their support so that we can in turn support the community.”
CAFF has five categories including CAFF Canada, CAFF Alberta, CAFF Indigenous, CAFF International and CAFF Kids. Mullakady explained that having these different categories is the best way to reach multiple audiences, as it will allow people to choose which premieres and showings they would like to attend.
“I want as many people as possible to become involved with CAFF,” Mullakady said.
“Whatever people are putting into CAFF, they will see it out again in their community. We don’t want people to have to go to Calgary or Edmonton to entertain themselves.”
CAFF is currently seeking some sponsorships and is welcoming local filmmakers to touch base to see how they can work together. Ideally, the organization will begin their regular screenings late fall or early winter of this year. Eventually, Rabbani said they will look into producing their own films as CAFF Productions, but that will come as the organization gains support in the community.
“This is a new project for all of us. I have a filmmaking background, so does Ranjit and Patricia (Arrango, a fellow board member) has experience with not-for-profit industries. CAFF, as a cultural organization, is a new experience with all of us. We want this to be a success because whatever we get from the community we can give back to the community.”
The group will promote all kinds of films, from short films to feature length movies and animations. Mullakady said they hope to focus on documentaries produced by local independent artists, but are looking forward to seeing what other kinds of art and film are produced in the area.
“We’re here to promote, support and educate the community on local filmmaking and filmmakers,” Mullakady said.
Tickets for the gala event are available by calling the CAFF office at 403-347-2627.