That Richmond road; the one with all the ornate architecture and spiritual vibe; the one known as Highway to Heaven is the subject of a new documentary film showing at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) next month.
And a rich subject it is.
Richmond’s No. 5 Road is home to a multitude of faiths, multiculturalism and subtle tensions compacted into a mile-long stretch.
Highway to Heaven is a documentary that merges “symphonic soundscape to illuminate the intimate lives of the faithful,” and shows viewers how beyond borders look like.
Sandra Ignagni, writer and director of the short film, wandered into this culturally unique street and saw this road as a reflection of Canadian culture.
The buildings of worship include Buddhist temples, Sikh gurdwara, Hindu and Swami temples, Shia and Sunni mosques, Christian churches and Jewish, Islamic and Christ schools.
Secular groups such as “the Mylora golf course, the Kingswood Pub and the RCMP” were included to say that “we are all on (this) road” and it’s not just religious groups said Ignagni.
She said “it took a while to build trust with each of the communities, but (she’s) so glad they welcomed (her) in with the spirit of openness and generosity and interest in participating in the project.”
“While (No. 5 Road) isn’t free of tension, it’s not a utopia by stretch of the imagination, but it’s still something as Canadians, we can be really proud of,” said Ignagni, adding that, to her, there is a place here (in Richmond) where people are “practicing respect in an everyday way.”
Ignagni hopes all viewers can “reflect on the value of exercising kindness, openness and generosity towards (their) neighbours,” regardless of race, language or religion after watching the film.
With the help of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), who produced and distributed the film, Ignagni was able to bring her reflection piece to life.
The screening dates of the documentary at TIFF will be announced on Aug. 20.
After the film is played in Canadian film festivals this fall, it will be available for free online.