Ali Kazimi

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Ali Kazimi (pronounced KA-zim-E) (born 1961) is an Indian-born Canadian film-maker and writer.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born and raised in India, Kazimi attended St. Columba's School and graduated from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University in 1982. While pursuing a master's degree at the Mass Communications Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia University he was selected for a scholarship to study film making in the Department of Film, Faculty of Fine Arts at York University in Toronto Canada. Kazimi is now the Chair of the Department of Cinema and Media Arts at York University, having joined as a full-time faculty member in 2006.


Kazimi has created a critically acclaimed body of work dealing with issues of race, immigration, history and social justice. His films have won more than thirty awards and nominations including the Gemini Award, Golden Conch (MIFF 2006), Gold Plaque (Chicago International Film Festival, 1995), Golden Gate Award, (San Francisco International Film Festival, 1995) and Best Director Award (Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, 1995).


Kazimi's films have been described as "passionate, thought-provoking, brilliant".[citation needed] He was named the Best Documentarian in Toronto by NOW Magazine's Best of Toronto 2005 issue with the citation: "In a city crowded with great documentary filmmakers—Allan King, John Walker, Richard Fung, Laura Sky, Peter Lynch—Ali Kazimi stands out. Trained as a cinematographer, he pays close attention to the visual plan of all his films. But it's the larger project that's impressive. Whether it's the story of an Iroquois photographer, Canadian government racism or villagers resisting an Indian mega-dam, there's a common thread. Kazimi's films are both the ongoing diary of an immigrant and a wide-ranging critique of hidden power."

While many of his films focus on South Asian issues, he has been on the forefront of cross-cultural film making. His film Shooting Indians: A Journey with Jeffery Thomas is the first Canadian documentary that engages with aboriginal issues from South Asian (indeed any other than Anglo or French) perspective. Still used in a range of university courses the film was instrumental in generating Define Indian a series of inter-communal dialogues between South Asian and Aboriginal artists across Canada created by SAVAC. In 2009 curator Srimoyee Mitra used the film as starting point for a multidisciplinary show Crossing Lines: Intercultural Dialogues, that brought together South Asian and Six Nations artists. Shooting Indians was as an installation. In her article in Cultivating Canada; Reconciliation Through the Lens of Cultural Diversity, Mitra writes "Shooting Indians: A Journey with Jeff Thomas helped me understand the strategy of developing cross-cultural dialogues as a process of building trust and mutual respect. It formed the touchstone for this exhibition. As a next-generation immigrant and cultural practitioner, I felt that it was important to highlight and revisit the discussion started by the duo in this exhibition. In fact, the dialogic approach developed by the artists through the development of the film also formed one of the core principles of Thomas's photographic practice."[2] Kazimi gave the plastic cowboy and Indian figurines he used in the opening of the film to photographer Jeff Thomas. Thomas has cited this as leading to his most successful photographic series in which he used the figurines juxtaposed against monuments all over the world.

Incorporating a similar first-person, self-reflexive narration is Continuous Journey (2004), the first feature-length documentary to examine the turning away of the Komagata Maru from Canada in 1914. After premiering, to a standing ovation, at the Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival in Toronto, the film has travelled widely. Continuous Journey has been credited for bringing y the history of this little known chapter in Canadian history

Continuous Journey has also inspired a number of works. Parts of the photo montage for the design have been used by artists and graphic designers; the film's narrative has inspired the novel Chanting Denied Shores: The Komagata Maru Narrative – and a work-in-progress by Canadian theatre director Ravi Jain of Why Not Theatre. The photo-montage created for the poster of the film has been incorrectly used by The Globe and Mail to illustrate a story and most infamously by the Conservative Party of Canada for their campaign television commercial.[3][not in citation given]. When The Globe and Mail had used the image without attribution it had issued a correction for its misuse (15 December 2009), the Conservative Party however pulled the commercial but offered no apology for its appropriation of the image.

He has also worked on several films as a cinematographer, starting with the Genie award winner A Song for Tibet (1991), .




  1. ^ "CBC Film Screenings for Asian Heritage Month". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 23 April 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
  2. ^ Cultivating Canada: Cultural Diversity through an Aboriginal Lens – edited by Ashok Mathur, Jonathan Dewar and Mike DeGagne, 2011, ISBN 978-1-897285-98-5. p.282
  3. ^ Allen, Kate (1 April 2011). "Filmmaker peeved after Tories use his image in campaign ad". The Star. Toronto.

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