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Closing the Knowledge Gap One Film at a Time

Tell me more about yourself…. “I’m a writer, director, and a partner at Dunya Media, an agency that is focusing on closing the knowledge gap between South Asians and their health care with culturally relevant, medically reliable, and entertaining content.”

Meet Kashif Pasta, proud Surrey citizen, Simon Fraser University graduate and force to be reckoned with in the local film scene – using his passion for filmmaking to truly make a difference in our local community.

“Surrey is where I was born and raised, so it does and always will hold a special place in my heart,” “it’s home” says Pasta. “My background as a filmmaker plays in to that a ton, in terms of creating relevant and engaging stories.”

When asked what Surrey means to Pasta, he keeps it plain and simple – “unpretentious”. “Surrey has thousands of incredibly talented people working earnestly and achieving a ton, whether it’s individuals in almost every industry, or the city itself, winning national innovation awards.

But because we still have a cloud of stereotypes hovering over us, we’re not too concerned about showing off. We focus, put our heads down, and have built literally tens of thousands of businesses in less than 30 years as a municipality.”

So how does one find themselves evolving their filmmaking craft in Surrey into a nation-wide initiative such as that of Cities Changing Diabetes? Pasta explains that his creative agency, Dunya Media was a part of the SFU RADIUS Slingshot Accelerator startup,

a six-month program based out of the Beedie School of Business at SFU, which was designed with the aim to assist social impact ventures navigate their early stages of their launches.

The accelerator combines the concepts of cohort based learning, individualized mentorship, and equity investment, in order to make the biggest impact. “Cities Changing Diabetes is connected to SFU, so we came up on each other’s radars and started talking.

They had already identified the fact that the South Asian community has been hit particularly hard by diabetes here, and with our focus on the same audience and innovative ways of communicating within it, it was a perfect match.” After formally partnering, RADIUS came in to the fund the campaign which developed into mithaas.org – an online platform that “creates entertaining, educational, and culturally-relevant digital content to connect South Asian families in BC and Ontario with conversation-starters about health and wellness.”

“Stories make it a lot easier to process information” states Pasta, when provided a question regarding effective film making within the public health sector. “We’ve all struggled to stay awake during a PowerPoint presentation that we know is “important”, but not only is pure information hard to get through, but it can be hard to see how it applies to your life.

Stories, and, by extension, films help us see the nuance and variations in an issue. It also makes it a lot easier to start a conversation by showing a friend or family member a film.” And this in fact, is exactly what the team at Dunya aimed to achieve with their most recent launch of a short film focused on empowering South Asian Families to take action against diabetes.

As per a recent press release focused on the short film release, it explains how “Cities Changing Diabetes and Dunya Media are disrupting public health communication”.

They are using stories to create action, and hopefully make a large impact on health epidemics that which the statistics show alarming realties for the future if action is not taken promptly. By creating compelling stories, they can more easily spark conversation and curiosities which will prompt change. You can see for yourself. It is relatable, it is powerful, and most importantly, it is effective.

So, what is next for Kashif Pasta and his team at Dunya Media? More great health content on @MithaasLife to look forward to! “We just shot over a dozen really simple, clean recipes with Fraser Health that will start coming out this month. And some exciting film projects in the pipeline that we can’t talk about just yet…” You heard it first #SR3Y –  stay tuned!

Robyn Freiheit

Robyn Freiheit

Robyn is a status-quo disruptor, an old-soul, and has a serious passion towards continuous learning driven by a curiosity for the unknown. A creative and equally analytical thinker with experience in leadership, project management and marketing strategy. When she’s not working you can find her in the kitchen, searching for new music, or meandering local thrift stores, antique stores, or flea markets for a unique find.