KPU Welcomes Local Award-Winning Filmmaker In Residency Program

Shubham Chhabra, an award-winning director and producer, joined KPU this week for a four-month residency.

Surrey, B.C. – Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) is expanding learning opportunities for students by welcoming its inaugural KDocsFF Filmmaker in Residence. 

Shubham Chhabra, an award-winning director and producer, joined KPU this week for a four-month residency.

Participating in the residency program is a “push in the right direction,” says Chhabra. 

“It’s such a great push for somebody who just started their career and seeks acknowledgment. I’m looking forward to an opportunity to test my projects in front of new audiences before releasing my future films.”

During his residency at KPU, Chhabra will be working on several projects, including a documentary version of his short film Cash Cows, a comedy-drama about the experiences of immigrants in Canada. 

Cash Cows tells the story of an international student who tries to become a permanent resident but gets caught up in employment scams. It was the personal experience of him and his friends as immigrants from India that inspired Chhabra to make the film. 

“The short film is complete, but I’m working on a documentary series that addresses the topic more sincerely.” 

Chhabra shares that newcomers can often meet people who want to take advantage of them at every step.

“It’s really easy to make victims out of people when trying to tell their stories. I wanted to keep the film light and send the message to audiences who do not agree or know about such stories,” says Chhabra. “With the documentary, I’m trying to make a balanced viewpoint and not lean heavily just on the idea of people being exploited.”

Chhabra will also work on a feature film about a local artist Maureen Coles, who is legally blind, rediscovering her artistic voice to create a full tactile art series. This film builds on his documentary series Through My Eyes: As artists re-creation, which is scheduled for release this fall on Telus Optik TV.

During his residency, Chhabra will consult with KPU film studies instructors and documentary producer Sean Farnel and lead filmmaking workshops in the KDocsFF Social Justice Lab. The lab, located at KPU Surrey, is an interdisciplinary makerspace for KPU students, faculty and staff who want to materialize calls to action.

Bringing a local emerging filmmaker on board creates more opportunities for collaboration among students and faculty, says Greg Chan, an English instructor at KPU and co-director of KDocsFF, Metro Vancouver’s premier social justice film festival based at KPU. 

 “I am excited to bring to campus such a talented filmmaker who tells Surrey-based stories. Shubham’s storytelling is sure to deepen KPU’s connections to the communities it serves,” says Chan, who launched the residency program.

The filmmaker residency at KPU is part of the KDocsFF Best Emerging Filmmaker Residency Prize, awarded to a local emerging filmmaker in partnership with the Sundar Prize Film Festival. Chhabra received the award during the ceremony on June 15th at Centre Stage at Surrey City Hall.