The first Sundar Prize opens submissions for films with social impact

The international film award competition aims to bring impactful films to the heart of Surrey

Vinay Giridhar (left) and Alex Sangha (right) are the two organizers of the new Sundar Prize film festival in Surrey. (Submitted)

Vinay Giridhar (left) and Alex Sangha (right) are the two organizers of the new Sundar Prize film festival in Surrey. (Submitted)

The Sundar Prize Film Festival, a new international film awards competition, is now accepting submissions for best feature film, best documentary, best short film, best animation, and best student film. 

The prize and festival is an initiative of Sher Vancouver, a South Asian 2LGBTQ+ registered charity based in Vancouver. The Sundar Prize will offer over $10,000 in cash prizes for the top five films, with one winner from each category. The categories are based on major international festivals and focus on covering all possible film submissions.

Sundar means beautiful in Sanskrit, an ancient and sacred language of India. The prize aims to bring impactful social issues films to Surrey, the heart of the South Asian community, says Alex Sangha, Sher Vancouver founder and Sundar Prize festival manager.

“It’s about creating awareness, educating the community, and bringing about change,” Sangha says. “We want to have films that can make a difference in the world, whatever that means to people.” 

Some themes of interest are human rights, Indigenous communities, immigrants and refugees, and the 2LGBTQ+ community. 

“If you feel your film can make a difference in the world and it has a message, we want to see it,” he says.

A jury selected from the community will judge the shortlisted submissions. Technical aspects of cinematography, such as the directing and editing, will be considered. However, the story the film tells matters most. 

“I think what really connects with the audience is the storytelling and how that is put together,” Sangha says. 

For its first year, the festival will only screen the top film in each category and each one will receive a cash prize, with all finalists receiving a laurel.

The winners will be announced in June 2024, which is when the five films will be shown over two days at the Centre Stage Theatre at Surrey City Hall, with dialogues that will seek to provide the audience with a call to action.

In accordance with the Sundar Prize and festival values, Sher wants to bring this experience to the center of Surrey, near a Skytrain station, for easy access to art and culture without having to transit to Vancouver. In order to facilitate this access, the festival plans to provide free and low-cost tickets for the event.

“We want our community to show up and attend and participate and be inspired by the films,” Sangha says. 

With a cash prize and the possibility of screening the films to an audience, the Sundar Prize seeks to attract the best filmmakers around the world to submit and give them a chance to share their work. 

“Anything you can do to provide a platform for youth and students and emerging filmmakers, we should do it … because they need all the support they can get in this industry,” he says. “We can’t wait to watch all these films.”

The submissions must have English subtitles included, but they can be from any country.

The early bird deadline with discounted entry fees is April 1. To read more about the Sundar Prize or make a submission, visit