ANNUAL SIKH FILM FESTIVAL 2008:
Director: Kevin Lee
Warrior Saints is a personal journey through the world of Sikhism, one of the world's largest and most misunderstood religions.
When filmmaker Kevin Lee filmed a high school presentation on Sikhism as a favor to a co-worker, he unintentionally embarked on an epic journey of discovery and personal change. He became fascinated with Sikhism, the fifth largest religion in the world with over 25 million followers. Over half a million Sikhs live in the U.S., but under the shadow of post 9/11 intolerance Sikhs are mistaken as terrorists because of their turbans.
Warrior Saints reveals the beauty of a centuries-old religion dedicated to upholding peace, justice and equality among all people, regardless of race, religion, class or gender. From their 15th century origins in war-torn India to the discrimination they suffer in post-9/11 America, Sikhs have always faced the question: how do I stand up for my values when it's dangerous to stand out?
The documentary reveals a variety of Sikhs and their complex lives in America. Rajinder Singh Khalsa is a spiritual leader who fled persecution in India only to fall victim to a vicious hate crime in
the U.S. Kevin Sat Hari Singh Harrington, an Irish American Sikh convert, leads the immigrant Sikh community against institutional discrimination. College student and recent convert Radhika Kaur strives to embrace her newfound faith against the wishes of her Hindu parents and the pressures of fitting into mainstream society. Through profound reflection and courageous action, these individuals struggle to embrace a thousands-year-old tradition in contemporary society.
Through his encounters with these and other Sikhs, Kevin, a Chinese American raised Christian, reconsiders his own cultural and spiritual values while enduring a period of personal upheaval. Through Sikhism, Kevin comes to embrace the value of one's uniqueness as a way to empower oneself and to contribute to society in its diversity and understanding.
Vividly shot in the U.S., Canada and the Sikh homeland of India, Warrior Saints is an international project that examines issues of religious identity and tolerance that affect all societies. This film is both a witness and a catalyst for socially progressive understanding, especially in post 9/11 America. What emerges is a loving and fearless testament to faith and survival, and the universal struggle to achieve belief and belonging in the modern world.
Kevin Lee is a filmmaker based in New York City. He is an honoree of the 2004 Berlinale Talent Campus, 2004 IFP Project Involve and 2005 Film/Video Arts Artist Mentor Project. His work has been screened on PBS Television and the Museum of Modern Art, as well as festivals in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Manchester UK, Hawaii, and Singapore. His award-winning documentary Dastaar: Defending Sikh Identity depicts the Sikh community's resistance to hate crimes and discrimination in the United States. Take a Look shows the effects of 9/11 on New York City's Chinatown community. His prize-winning project On Guard, depicting the day in the life of a security guard, was shot, edited and completed in 72 hours. He is currently producing and directing a full-length documentary on Sikh religion and culture in the United States and India.