Deepa Mehta Doc I Am Sirat Joins TIFF Line-up

Doc is a collaborative portrait of a transgender woman's decision to share her story

3 mins read

Another documentary joins the line-up for the Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF announced today that I Am Sirat, directed by Deepa Mehta and Sirat Taneja, will have its world premiere in the TIFF Docs programme. The film tells the story of Taneja’s life and work as a transgender woman in New Delhi. She navigates the responsibilities of a typical Indian son while living with her mother, but then works openly as Sirat by day in the Ministry of Social Defense. The film is reported to be a collaborative effort between filmmaker and subject, with Mehta honouring Taneja’s lens as the guide through which they tell the story.

‘I Am Sirat is my life and my hope. I don’t want to live a dual life anymore and want people to know my story but most importantly I want my mother to understand and accept me from within her heart,” said Taneja in a statement. “Deepa ma’am, whom I respect a lot and is a person who has the ability to see people as they are, supported me on this journey. She heard my story and understood my feelings, and then we decided to make this film together. I hope, and in my heart truly believe, that when people and my mother watch this film, they will finally understand me and accept me as I am.”

The film marks a return to documentary for Mehta, who premiered her short documentary At 99: A Portrait of Louise Tandy Murch at the inaugural Festival of Festivals in 1976. Mehta has mostly worked in dramas, delivering some of Canada’s most acclaimed films including Water, which opened the 2005 Festival and landed an Oscar nomination for Best International Feature. Mehta drew upon her documentary roots for the innovative hybrid drama Anatomy of Violence (2016), which screened at the Festival. Her 2020 adaptation of Funny Boy won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Director.

”I am deeply grateful to Sirat who most literally ‘opened the doors of perception’ as she welcomed me into her world and we traversed Sirat’s universe. I learned so much about what it takes to reclaim yourself – which is our human right – under the most challenging of circumstances,” said Mehta via a release. “We are so delighted that Sirat will be at TIFF and will be able to share her story firsthand on a world stage and for audiences to be able to share in the joy that Sirat iminates.”

TIFF announced additional Galas, Special Presentations, and Centrepiece titles today. The festival runs September 7 to 17.

Pat Mullen is the publisher of POV Magazine. He holds a Master’s in Film Studies from Carleton University where his research focused on adaptation and Canadian cinema. Pat has also contributed to outlets including The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, That Shelf, Sharp, Xtra, and Complex. He is the vice president of the Toronto Film Critics Association and an international voter for the Golden Globe Awards.

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