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Bridging Cultures. Connecting People


Hon. David R. Peterson

The IIFFT Advisory Committee consists of distinguished and globally respected US, Canadian, Indian and Pakistani Film Industry Luminaries and Community/Business Leaders. The AC lends great credibility to the festival and helps ensure the Festival’s mandate is successfully achieved.


Hon. David R. Peterson, P.C., Q.C., O.Ont., C. St. J., C.L.H., D.U., L.L.D.

Mr. Peterson is Chairman of the law firm of Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, where he practises corporate / commercial law.


Mr. Peterson is Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Toronto, a director of St. Michael’s Hospital and was Chairman of the successful Toronto Bid for 2015 Pan Am Games. In September 2013, Mr. Peterson accepted the nomination to become Chair of the Toronto 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games Organizing Committee (TO2015).


He is a director of a number of public and private companies including Rogers Communications Inc., Franco-Nevada Corporation and Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc. and was the Founding Chairman of the Toronto Raptors Basketball Club Inc. and Chapters Inc.


Mr. Peterson is or was director or active with a number of charitable, educational and environmental organizations including the Shaw Festival, the Ontario March of Dimes, the Ontario Canada Day Committee, Canadian Club, Cercle Canadien, Council for Canadian Unity, Young Presidents Organization, World President’s Organization, the Society for Educational Visits & Exchanges in Canada, Frontier College, Peter Lougheed Medical Research Foundation, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Magnetic True North Theatre, West Park Health Centre and Toronto Abuse Centre as well as being on the Advisory Board of the Coady International Institute and the Steering Committee of the Toronto City Summit Alliance.


He was chairman of the Commonwealth Team observing the 1992 elections in Guyana.  He was chief federal negotiator for the devolution of the Northwest Territories and has worked on a number of important negotiations with the First Nations.  He was an adjunct professor at York University, a fellow of McLaughlin College and Executive-in-Residence at Rotman School of Management and a senior fellow of Massey College.  He speaks often on national and international issues, as well as being a frequent commentator on television.


Mr. Peterson holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Western Ontario and a Bachelor of Law Degree from the University of Toronto and studied at the University of Caen, France.


He was called to the Bar in Ontario in 1969 and appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1980 and was summoned by Her Majesty to the Privy Council in 1992.  Mr. Peterson has received honorary doctorates from the University of Toronto, the University of Western Ontario, the University of Ottawa, the University of Tel Aviv and the American University of the Caribbean.


In 1994 the government of France appointed him a Knight of the Order of the Legion of Honour of France.  In 1995 the International Assembly of French-Speaking Parliamentarians presented him with the Ordre de la Pléiade.  He was awarded the Order of Ontario in 2009.


In 1975 he was elected as a Member of the Ontario Legislature, and became the leader of the Ontario Liberal party in 1982. He served as Premier of the Province between 1985 and 1990, overseeing a very active period of reform and playing a major role in the country’s constitutional discussions.


He resides in Toronto and Caledon with his actress/author wife Shelley.  They have three children - Benjamin, Chloë and Adam and two grandsons, Luke and Harry Dirksen.  Mr. Peterson’s interests include theatre, riding, biking, skiing, tennis, reading and gardening.

AR Rahman

A two-time winner and five-times nominee of the Academy Award, A. R. Rahman is popularly known as the man who has redefined contemporary Indian music. Rahman, according to a BBC estimate, has sold more than 150 million copies of his work comprising of music from more than 100 film soundtracks and albums across over half a dozen languages.


Apart from joining the super band, SuperHeavy, comprising Mick Jagger, Joss Stone, Damian Marley and Dave Stewart, Rahman has collaborated with several other international artistes including Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Michael Jackson, Michael Bolton, MIA, Vanessa Mae, the Pussycat Dolls, Sarah Brightman, Dido, Hossam Ramzy, Hans Zimmer and Akon. He remains one of the few mainstream artistes, classical adaptations of whose works have been performed live by the likes of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Babelsberg Film Orchestra and the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. Ravi Gukathasan

Ravi Gukathasan is CEO and founder of Digital Specialty Chemicals which was started in 1987. Known for creating solutions and partnerships in both new and engineered chemistry, Ravi has led DSC through global expansion and significant financial success. From a 2-person chemical lab, DSC today has operations on 3 continents, has achieved ISO 9001 and 14001 quality standards, and a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility includes sophisticated R&D, advanced manufacturing and world-class delivery systems. Ravi is now leading the organization through a transformational change into a triple bottom line corporation: a company where financial results, human development, and environmental sustainability share equal importance.

Kabir Khan

National Award winning director, Kabir Khan’s latest film, Ek Tha Tiger  (Yash Raj Films) opened to an unprecedented opening at the Box office in 2012 and went on to become the second highest grossing film of all time in the Indian Film industry. Shot in 5 countries across the globe, the film starred Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif.


His previous two films New York (Yash Raj Films) released worldwide June 2009 was met with critical acclaim and Box office success and his first feature film Kabul Express (Yash Raj Films) was shot entirely on locations in Afghanistan. Kabir won the prestigious National Award 2006 for best New Director for Kabul Express. The film premiered at the prestigious Toronto International Film festival 2006 and then went on to the London, Pusan, Dubai, Singapore, Casablanca and Cairo Film festivals.

Sabbas Joseph

One of the founder directors of Wizcraft International Entertainment has been actively involved with media from the beginning of his career.


A master's degree holder in Political Science from St. Xavier's College, Mumbai; Sabbas went on to study Journalism at the Xavier's Institute of Communications, Mumbai. He returned to the institute to teach A/V film making, journalism & held several workshops on script writing for films. He is a former journalist who worked with some of the country's leading publications. As a Director of Wizcraft International Entertainment, Sabbas has spearheaded and managed several mega corporate events for the company.

Charles Falzon Dean, Faculty of Communication & Design, Ryerson University

Charles has had a distinguished career in the entertainment industry and brings to RTA global experience in production,  brand development and  commerce.


An industry veteran in his home country of Canada, Falzon has managed media enterprises  in the UK, US, Japan, Latin America and Malta. His breadth of experience includes the production of award winning television series and features, distribution, marketing, publishing, as well as live events, theme parks and brand development. Falzon’s creative work includes such properties as Thomas The Tank Engine, Guinness World Records and Art Attack.  More recently Falzon’s credits include Harry and His Bucketful of Dinosaurs, Artzooka, Extreme Babysitting and a long list of made-for-TV movies.  He has won numerous awards including two Canadian Screen Awards for best children’s series. Charles was founder and continues to act as co-chairman of CCI Entertainment, a leading Canadian entertainment company. Previously he was President of Gullane Entertainment, a UK-based, publicly traded media company. He was the founding chair of the Canadian Media Production Association and is vested in the Order of Malta.


Charles, a graduate of RTA, has been an instructor at Ryerson for nearly twenty  years, with a specialty in media marketing and management. His education also includes two post graduate degrees at University of Toronto in ethics, theology, and spirituality.  His academic interests include transmedia marketing and media ethics


Raju is the owner of the Tamil film production company "KITE STUDIOS" based in Chennai, India.


In 2002, he produced his first Tamil film " BALA" starring SHAAM AND MIRA JASMIN. His second Tamil film "PIRIVOM SANDHIPPOM " starring CHERAN and SNEHA was produced in 2006.


In 2014 he joined as the Creative Head & CEO of LYCA PRODUCTIONS. A prominent production and distribution film studio which has produced and distributed many major blockbuster movies under its banner. Almost all the films produced and distributed under his stewardship at LYCA were Block busters and super duper Hits .


The crown of his achievements is the recently released and most successful production of Indian film 2.O starring Super Star Rajinikanth and Akshay Kumar - the biggest budget film ever made in the Indian Film Industry

Sultana Siddiqui


It is a great fortune of Pakistan that it is blessed with daughters like Sultana Siddiqui. A person who has proved that hard work, perseverance and honest dedication can over come all sorts of gender biases, traditional mindset and societal taboos in our society.


Today Sultana Siddiqui represents the best of us. Starting her career as a single mother working in a government job she has managed to become the most recognizable name in South East Asian media. Her career spanning over four decades has many facets.


As a creative force she has been responsible for launching careers of likes of Fawad Khan, Mahira Khan, Sarmad Khoosat, Sanam Saeed to name a few while she also helped people like Nazia Hasan and Alamgir get through the gates of PTV. She has created ground breaking TV plays like Marvi, Humsafar, Zindagi Gulzar Hai, Thori si mohabbat and Udari. TV Plays, which present a social problem and point to a solution, while at the same time remaining the context of our culture.


On the business side she started off with one of the first private content production houses in Pakistan. Her hard work brought her success and in 2004 she became the first woman in South East Asia to launch a private entertainment channel. This was also the first publicly listed media company in Pakistan, a feat that is unmatched till today. The 24 hour entertainment channel HUM TV was followed by the launch of South East Asia’s first 24 hour food channel. Today HUM TV has its viewers in more than 30 countries. Its programs have been dubbed in other languages and its content aired in India via other broadcasters. Scores of HUM stars are now making headway in Bollywood proving HUM tv to be a successful ambassador of Pakistan’s soft image.


Sultana Siddiqui carries this message personally as well, representing Pakistan in conferences in Germany, Malaysia, USA, Qatar, China, Singapore, New Zealand, Bangladesh and the Bahamas, where she has been asked to speak. She was able to portray the soft image of Pakistan in Women Leadership Forum in Silicon Vallyey California, Islamic World Forum in Doha and World Leaders Forum in Washington DC.


On the home front she has played her part in contributing to the society by advising on many forums. She has served Sindh Graduates Association Women Wing, and Media journalists and Publisher`s Organization, as President and was a Member of Board of Governors Sindh Madrasat Ul Islam and a Director at Fakh-e-Imdad Foundation. Currently she is the advisory committee member for Federation of Business and Professional Women, and also the Center for Excellence in Journalism at IBA. She is also on the panel of British council fund for women entrepreneurs.


Her services have been recognized in Pakistan and abroad with Women of the Vision Award (Media Women Journalists and Publishers Organization), Latif Abdi Award (Nishan-E-Latif), Nigar Award, Women Entrepreneur Award (Dawood Investment), The best CEO Award (Manager Today), IMD Award (Rutgers WPF), Best Leadership Award (Ceo Club of Pakistan), Khadija-Tul-Kubra Gold Medal (Federation of Business and Professional Women).  For her services she was awarded honorary Doctorate by Greenwich University in 2016. In 2007 she was bestowed with Pride of Performance from Government of Pakistan. She was also ranked as one of the top business leaders of Pakistan in 2012 and 2013 by CEO Summit Asia. National Hero Awardsby DW.


Sultana Siddiqui leads a dynamic business of broadcasting, content production, online media, film production and distribution, print magazines in Fashion, food and investigative journalism, and mega events like fashion shows, bridal weeks, family festivals and biggest awards shows.


She has covered this amazing journey as a working single mother. She has not only raided 3 boys but her children are business leaders in their own fields. She has introduced best practices in management and ethics not only in her company but also the media industry. And today is leading the vision to be the most admired company in Pakistan.

Salman Iqbal President and CEO, ARY Digital Network and Owner, Karachi Kings Cricket Team


S. R. PRABHU Producer at Dream Warrior Pictures

S.R. Prabhu is one of the renowned and successful producers in Tamil cinema today who is conferred with National Award (Joker 2017). Prabhu is a partner in his production houses Dream Warrior Pictures (www.dwp.in) and Potential Studios. He’s also the Treasurer for Tamil Film Producers Council at the helm of affairs during the period 2017 to 2019.


Known for his keen acumen in choosing the right script and crew across genres, Prabhu has to his credit many successful films that are fared well both commercially and acclaimed for its content. As a dynamic producer, his astute understanding of the audience preferences and markets fuels up his success. Prabhu believes that the role of a producer is much more than backing the production financially, but to play a pivotal role in taking the Right Content with the Right Crew to the Right Market at the Right Time. He is a pioneer in OTT markets and early adaptor of Technology in all walks of business.


Few Feathers on his cap are Joker (National Award), Aruvi, Kaithi, Theeran, Raatchasi, Maya and many more. His movies has been conferred with many regional and national awards. So far, he has produced 22 feature films with good box office records.

Deepa Mehta.

Deepa Mehta is a transnational, Oscar-nominated screenwriter and director whose work is known for The daughter of a film distributor, Ms Mehta was born and educated in India before immigrating to Canada in 1973.


She is perhaps best known for her critically acclaimed Elemental Trilogy in which she addresses universal themes regarding human conflict. Fire (1996), about two love-deprived sisters-in-law who find solace in each other, was the first of the trilogy to elicit public protest. Encompassing lesbianism and challenging the power imbalance between husbands and wives in contemporary India, the film drew both ire and praise. It won numerous awards at festivals worldwide, although its release in India was highly controversial and caused theatre closings, censorship problems and outrage from Hindu fundamentalists. Earth (1998), which was nominated for three Gemini awards, is a love story set in1947, during India's partition from Pakistan. Based on Bapsi Sidwa's novel Cracking India, it depicts the division of both country and friendships during the largest forced migration in human history. The final installment of the trilogy, Water (2005), told the story of socially marginalized widows in conservative India. The film went through a series of delays as violent protesters issued death threats against the director and destroyed film sets in the holy city of Varanasi, where "widow houses" can still be found.

Water was nominated for an Oscar in 2006 for Best Foreign Language Film.


In addition to filmmaking, Deepa Mehta serves on the board of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association; member of the Board of Directors of the Toronto International Film Festival and the provincial Minister's Advisory Council for Arts and Culture. She has also been an instructor at the Summer Institute of Film and Television in Ottawa; a mentor and advisor for The Canadian Film Centre in Toronto; a lecturer and visiting artist at The School of Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles; and has conducted master classes at Praxis Centre for Screenwriting in Vancouver.


Among her many honours, Deepa Mehta was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women in 2011 by the Women's Executive Network and has received the Excellence in the Arts Award (2011) from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Global Leadership Award (2011) from the Indian International Film Awards, the Lifetime Achievement Award (2009) from the Pravasi Film Festival Awards and the International Achievement in Excellence in Film Direction (2007) from Women in Film and Television. In November 2011, Deepa Mehta received the Canadian Centre of Diversity’s 2011 Life of Distinction Award. Mehta is also the recipient of numerous honorary degrees from international universities.


In May 2012, Deepa Mehta received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.


In her latest project, Deepa Mehta is collaborating with Salman Rushdie on an adaptation of Rushdie’s award winning novel, Midnight’s Children. The film will be released in late 2012.

Shyam Benegal

Shyam Benegal holds a special place in the history of Indian cinema as a path-breaking yet popular filmmaker. His films that capture contemporary social reality are widely enjoyed by people, critically acclaimed and screened and discussed at International film festivals all over the world.


His first feature film 'Ankur' secured a place for him in the cinematic landscape of the country as an emerging Indian director in 1974, when it got nominated for the Golden Bear at Berlin . His second film 'Nishant'was nominated for Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1975.


He began his career in advertising in late fifties and turned to cinema in early seventies. He is indisputably the most popular director of New Indian Cinema. His early four films: 'Ankur' (1973), 'Nishant' (1975), 'Manthan' (1976) and 'Bhumika' (1977) are considered to be milestones of the movement. His style and approach to filmmaking that depicted harsh social realities with visibly left sympathetic optimism successfully engaged viewers and are often referred to as the "middle cinema". Practically all his films have won national awards and several of them have been awarded internationally.


He has also been a prolific documentary and short filmmaker with over 70 documentary and short films to his credit.


Mr. Benegal is one of the first filmmaker to understand the potential of television. His serials 'Bharat Ek Khoj (Discovery of India)' (1988) and 'Yatra' (1986) are considered high points of Indian broadcasting.


He was a Homi Bhabha Fellow (1970-72) during which time, he studied children's television and work for a few months as an Associate producer with WGBH Boston, USA and devoted sometime with the Children's Television Workshop in New York.


He has also played a significant role in shaping film education in India as director of FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) for two terms 1980-83 and 1989-1992. He also served as the Director of the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) from 1980 to 1986.

He has been awarded two top civilian honors from the government - Padma Shree (1976) and Padma Bhushan (1991). He was bestowed Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 2007 (for the year 2005), the highest award in the field of cinema by the Indian government.


He has also authored three books based on his own films, The Churning with Vijay Tendulkar (1984), based on 'Manthan'; Satyajit Ray (1988), based on his biographical film, 'Satyajit Ray, Filmmaker'; and The Marketplace (1989) which was based on 'Mandi'.


Currently, a member of Upper House (Rajya Sabha) of Indian Parliament, Shyam Benegal is an active filmmaker. He also heads the Federation of Film Societies of India, the umbrella body of film societies, started in 1949 under the leadership of Satyajit Ray.



Arshad Warsi

Arshad Warsi is an Indian actor best known for his role as "Circuit" in the comedy films Munnabhai M.B.B.S.(2003) and Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006).


He got his first offer to act in Amitabh Bachchan's production company, ABCL's first production Tere Mere Sapne in 1996.


In 2003 he starred in the comedy film Munnabhai MBBS which was a huge box office success and gained him much critical acclaim and a nomination at the Filmafare for Best Actor in a Supporting role. He has since appeared in serveral successful films such as Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya (2005), Salaam Namaste (2005), Golmaal, Kabul Express, Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006), the sequel to Munnabhai MBBS which also won him his first Filmfare Award under the category of Best Comedian, He also gave more hit films like Dhamaal (2007), Golmaal Return (2008), and Ishqiya (2010).


He's starring in the upcoming 2013 films of "Golmaal 4" and "Total Dhamaal".

Michael Rapino

President and Chief Executive Officer (Live Nation Entertainment)

Michael Rapino was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the newly created Live Nation Entertainment in January 2010. He was instrumental in leading the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation to create the #1 live event company in the world. In 2011, Live Nation Entertainment sold nearly 200 million tickets, promoted over 22,000 concerts, partnered with nearly 800 sponsors and averaged almost 27 million unique monthly users of its ecommerce sites.


Prior to the merger, Michael held the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of Live Nation since August 2005. Under Michael’s leadership, the company solidified its position as the world’s largest producer of live concerts with operations in 30 countries and revenues exceeding $5 billion. He transformed the company from a fragmented entertainment company to the #1 live music company in the world.


He holds a bachelor degree in business from Lakehead University.

Prakash Jha

Jha is a multiple award winning independent Film Maker from India. He has won 10 National Awards including two GOLDEN LOTUS awards for the Best Feature Film of the year - 1985 for his film DAMUL - Bonded until Death and for the Best Documentary of the year 2002 for SONAL – a documentary on dancer Sonal Mansingh. Recently he has won the National Award for the Best Screenplay for APAHARAN (2006) and the National Award for the Best Feature Film on Other Social Issues for GANGAAJAL (2004).


Most recently Jha has been felicitated with the 2008 Kostas Kyriazis Award, Greek’s most prestigious Honorary Award for his contribution to human values, understanding and cultural collaboration among fellow human beings.

Uma Da Cunha

da Cunha is a film journalist, writer and researcher.  She edited the first complete biography on Satyajit Ray called “Montage – Monograph on Satyajit Ray” published in 1967 in her maiden name, Uma Krupanidhi. This prized monograph is now in the Library of Congress, Washington DC. She has also written a monograph on the documentary film maker, S Chari, which was aimed at raising funds for his bereaved family.


In recent years da Cunha has been the founder-advisor for festivals that are devoted entirely to Indian cinema, such as the River to River Indian Film Festival started in 2001 in Florence and held every December, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) launched in 2002, the Stuttgart Indian Film Festival started in July 2004, the Houston Indian Film Festival launched in September 2009, and more recentlly as the India representative for the Hague Indian Film Festival.


At the 2009 Cannes International Film Festival, da Cunha was a member of the Un Certain Regard International Jury.



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