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black-and-white portrait of Ravi Srinivasan smiling warmly into the camera

Memorial award in Film Studies honours Ravi Srinivasan’s connection to Laurier’s English and Film Studies program

Known as a “champion” of Canadian film, Ravi Srinivasan was working his dream job as senior manager of festival programming at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) when he passed away suddenly on January 14, 2023 at the age of 37.

“I was fortunate enough to work with Ravi for nearly a decade. I always appreciated his sharp perspectives on films, but what I loved most was his sense of humour and his generosity to all. Ravi Srinivasan embraced life, movies and people, in all their complexity. We will miss him dearly,”  says TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey.

Srinivasan had worked with TIFF since 2013, first as a programming associate, and as a lead programmer since 2018, before being promoted to senior manager of festival programming in 2022.

Inspired by his Filipino and Indian immigrant heritage, Srinivasan was passionate about representation in film, as well as access to film culture for prospective students. He founded the South Western International Film Festival (SWIFF) in his hometown of Sarnia because of what he described in 2018 as “opportunity and necessity.” Despite boasting a vibrant arts and culture scene, the Sarnia where Srinivasan grew up had no film festivals, no film workshops and no film-related courses at his high school. SWIFF allowed Srinivasan to bring “the latest and greatest cinema” to his home community, while providing enrichment and education opportunities for youth interested in the film industry. 

Srinivasan also worked as a programmer for Hot Docs and the Reel Canada touring film festival and sat on the boards for the Regent Park Film Festival and the Future of Film Showcase in Toronto. 

“There was no line between working with Ravi and being friends with Ravi,” says Adam Cook, Srinivasan’s friend and colleague at TIFF, Hot Docs and SWIFF. “He looked after films and filmmakers with the same care with which he took care of his loved ones. Ravi showed how one person can create change, putting community first and providing opportunities for others at every turn. It is important to honour his legacy and even more important that others follow in his footsteps to move our culture forward and to bring people together.”

Before Srinivasan launched his career in the Canadian film industry, the passionate cinephile said his mind and eyes were opened to cinema and stories outside of American culture at Laurier, where he studied English and Film.

“It was in Associate Professor Russell Kilbourn’s class where I began to think about film and its massive impact on how we think about race, class, gender and sexuality,” Srinivasan told Campus magazine in 2018. “The course changed my life and without a doubt was the defining moment in my pursuit of working in this industry.”

In honour of Srinivasan’s connection to Laurier and his contributions to Canadian film, Laurier faculty have come together with Srinivasan’s friends and family to establish a memorial award recognizing a Laurier student in Film Studies who demonstrates community involvement and academic achievement.

“Ravi was a keen Film Studies student who went on to make a mark in the local and international film scenes, becoming a role model for any student in the humanities from any background who loves movies and who wants to show others the value and necessity of culture for life and for making the world a better place,” says English and Film Studies Department Chair Russell Kilbourn.


Visit the Ravi Srinivasan memorial award in Film Studies giving page to make a donation in celebration of Ravi Srinivasan’s life and passion, and to ensure that his legacy continues for years and years to come. All donations are eligible for a charitable tax receipt.

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