Vancouver may be home to the Times of India Film Awards (TOIFA), but the Surrey Board of Trade (SBoT) is campaigning for organizers to host a satellite event in Surrey.
Anita Huberman, CEO of the SBoT, said the city was overlooked in the preparations for the inaugural awards show, set to take over Vancouver from April 4 to 6. The three-day festival, nicknamed the Oscars of India, showcases the best of the Hindi film industry - often called Bollywood, a portmanteau of Bombay (now Mumbai) and Hollywood - with live music and dance, a nominations gala and, of course, an awards ceremony.
"It is a significant event that is taking place that we feel needs to happen - at least one event related to TOIFA - in Surrey," said Huberman, noting that of Surrey's 483,000 residents, an estimated 30 per cent are South Asian.
In late January, Premier Christy Clark announced that the B.C. government had secured the first-ever TOIFA ceremony at a $9.5-million price tag, matched by organizers at the Times of India, the largest media conglomerate in India. The Times of India also owns the the world's largest English-language daily newspaper, with a daily circulation of eight million.
An estimated 30,000 people will attend the awards, and organizers anticipate hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide will watch from home. Local events related to the film awards are expected to pump $13 million to $18 million into the Lower Mainland economy.
The idea for a Surrey event was drafted by the Canada-India Business Council, a private sector not-for-profit trade association, sometime before the premier's announcement earlier this year. The council had been inspired to lobby for an awards show after Toronto hosted the 12th annual International Indian Film Academy Awards in 2011.
"Our partner, the Canada-India Business Council, had spoken to the provincial government to have a similar type of event here in B.C., considering not only the South Asian population, but also as an instigator for the film industry," said Huberman.
Despite the council's efforts to promote a satellite event to the provincial government in 2012, she said it was only after the exclusion became public in recent weeks that the TOIFA organizers started looking into a Surrey-centred event. With just over three weeks until the festival kicks off, organizers are expected to unveil the Surrey tie-in shortly.
"As far as I know, there will be an event happening in Surrey," said Huberman. "What the nature of it is or when it is, I do not have the details of that."
Representatives from the Laura Ballance Media Group, in charge of public relations for the TOIFA, did not respond with details about a potential Surrey event by press time.