Ali Kazimi is filmmaker, author and media artist whose work deals with race, social justice migration, history and memory. He is the recipient of the 2019 Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts. and the same year he received a Doctor of Letters, honoris causa from the University of British Columbia.
His critically acclaimed documentaries include Narmada: A Valley Rises (’94), Shooting Indians: A Journey with Jeffrey Thomas (’97), Documenting Dissent (’01), Continuous Journey (’04), Runaway Grooms (’06), Rex versus Singh (’09) and Random Acts of Legacy (’16).
The films have been shown at festivals around the world, winning more than 30 national and international honours and awards. Highlights include a Gemini Award (Donald Brittain Award) for Best Social/Political Documentary; Golden Gate Award, San Fran. Intl. Film Fest; Golden Conch, Mumbai International Film Festival; Golden Sheaf, Yorkton Short Film Festival; Best Director & Best Political Documentary, Hot Docs and audience awards for Best Documentary at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival and Los Angeles Indian Film Festival.
His latest feature documentary Random Acts of Legacy had its world premiere at the 2016 Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival where it garnered an Honourable Mention for Best Canadian Feature Documentary. The following year it won the Best Documentary Award at the 2017 CAAMFest in San Francisco. It has been broadcast on the World Channel in the United States and on TVO in Canada.
Ali Kazimi has also been honoured with retrospectives at the 1998 IMAGES Festival of Independent Film & Video (Toronto), Pacific Film Archives/Berkeley Art Museum (2006), Mumbai International Film Festival (2008) and ViBGYOR International Documentary Film Festival in Thissur, India, in 2009. On the small screen, his productions have been broadcast nationally (CBC, TVO, Vision TV, CBC Newsworld, Knowledge Network and SCN) and internationally (Channel 4/UK, PBS/USA).
In addition to shooting his own films, Ali Kazimi has also served as cinematographer for productions such as the Genie Award-winning A Song for Tibet (1992), My Niagara (1993), Bollywood Bound (2001) and The Journey of Lesra Martin (2002), Fig Trees (2008), Rex versus Singh (2009) and They Were Promised the Sea (2013).
Kazimi has been recognized as innovator in stereoscopic 3D cinema, an area he has pursued while working as an Associate Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Arts at York University He is a recipient of a prestigious John Evan Leaders Fund, from the Canada Foundation for Innovation for the Stereoscopic 3D Lab @York (2012–17). He was the founding filmmaker, in 3D FLIC (3D Film Innovation Consortium) an inter-disciplinary academic/industry partnership. In 2010, he made, Hazardous, one of the first stereoscopic 3D short drama’s in Canada. His S3D installation Oceans Within was part of the site specific Land|Slide: Possible Futures, held in Markham, 2013 and was also shown as part of Transformations at the Ismaili Centre in Toronto in 2016. Fair Play, was mounted in the National Gallery of Canada as part of the Governor General Award winners show, which ran from March to August, 2019.
In 2011, Ali Kazimi authored the nationally acclaimed book, Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru—An Illustrated History (Douglas & McIntyre). The book was a finalist for both, the 2012 Vancouver Book Award and the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize in the 2013 BC Book Prizes.
Alongside his creative and academic roles, Ali Kazimi has guest-lectured internationally and been invited to serve on numerous national and international film juries. He has contributed to the Canadian media arts and film community by serving as president of the Independent Film and Video Alliance (1992–93) and as chair of the Canadian Independent Film Caucus—Toronto (now the Documentary Organization of Canada) (1996–7).
Ali Kazimi was the 2015 Phil Lind Multicultural Artist in Residence at the University of British Columbia.
He has been interviewed on CBC radio for several shows—The Current, As It Happens, Here and Now, Metro Morning. On television he has appeared on The National, Democracy Now with Amy Goodman as well on Al-Jazeera.