ANNUAL SIKH FILM FESTIVAL 2005
The following films were screened in the 2005 festival.
Continuous Journey Directed
A beautiful essay by Canadian filmmaker Ali Kazimi that unravels the complex and neglected story of the Komagata Maru, a ship with 376 mostly Sikh immigrants from India that was turned away by Canada in 1914. This is a story of the dark days of Canadian immigration, but it is also one of community and hope.
Dastaar: Defending Sikh Identity Directed by
This film presents the struggle of the Sikh American community to overcome the hatred, fear and intolerance they face from fellow Americans due to an essential symbol of the Sikh faith: the dastaar, or turban. Though Sikhs have no relationship with the terrorist networks of the Middle East, they are often mistaken as terrorists due to their wearing turbans. The film explores how media imagery fuels the association of the turban with terroism, leading to widespread discrimination against Sikhs, and also shows the efforts made by the Sikh community through activism, legal action, legislation and education.
Kaya Taran (Chrysalis) by
Journalist-turned-filmmaker Shashi Kumar uses the national ghosts of the 1984 massacre of Sikhs to reflect on the Gujarat riots of 2002. This film is an adaptation of ‘When Big Trees Fall’, a Malayalam short story by N. S. Madhavan.
The Khalsa: Vision Revisited Produced by the Nagaara Trust
Produced in 1999 in commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Khalsa, this audio visual presents the evolution of the Sikh ethos and that dramatic moment in history: the birth of the Khalsa on March 30, 1699 at Anandpur. This Baisakhi, 300 years ago, was the fruition of Guru Nanak’s mission "as radiant as the Sun so dazzling... that it transformed the world for all times."
Khamosh Pani (Silent Waters) Directed by Sabiha Sumar
Khamosh Pani is a sensitive and courageous film examining the events of 1947, when the Indian sub-continent was partitioned into India and Pakistan. It tells the story of a Sikh woman left behind in Pakistan who becomes a Muslim and is renamed Ayesha. By 1979, she is a middle-aged widow living with her teenage son in a village near the Indian border. When Pakistan’s rule is taken over by Islamic law, she watches her son being swept away by militant religious fervor. Tensions escalate when Sikh Pilgrims from India visit the village, forcing Ayesha to confront her tragic past.
Legend of Malerkotla: A Tale from the Punjab Directed
Waves of violence washed over India in the days that followed independence in 1947. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs were uprooted from their homes and forced to relocate as the country underwent partition on the basis of religious affiliation. In spite of the violence all around, no one was killed in the tiny village of Malerkotla. Legend has it that for centuries, the town has been peaceful because of the special boon bestowed upon it by the last of the Sikh Gurus. The film features interviews with some of the residents of Malerkotla, who reminisce about their experiences.
Lighthouse: A Film about Harbhajan Yogi Singh Ji
Ranjit Singh Produced by
T. Sher Singh
T. Sher Singh illustrates the life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the first Sikh emperor of the Kingdom of Punjab. This film was produced in 2001, which marks the bicentennial of the founding of the Kingdom. Two centuries later, the Maharaja is still revered as the “Lion of the Punjab” who wielded absolute power but did so with benevolence, compassion and humility.
Sahibzadey Produced by
This animated film relives the great sacrifice of the two youngest sons and the mother of the tenth spiritual master of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh. The movie shows how the saga of their martyrdom at Sirhind continues to inspire future generations of Sikh children.
Sewa: From Paris to Tapovan Directed
by Reema Anand
Filmmaker Reema Anand tells the inspiring story of Sardar Bhagwant Singh Dalawari, a former Indian Foreign Diplomat serving across Europe and Africa who has spent the last 25 years caring for leprosy patients in a small Indian village called Tapovan.
Sikhs and the City Directed by Roger Childs, BBC
Sikhs and the City offers a rare and entertaining portrait of one of Britain’s biggest , but least understood, faith minorities. It’s actually a day-in-the-life snapshot of Britain’s Sikhs as they celebrate the 400th anniversary of their holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib. Among the Sikhs profiled are such notables as BBC personality Sonia Deol, artists Amrit and Rabindra Kaur Singh and marathoner Fauja Singh.
The Sikhs: Part One Directed
by John Das
This is the first of a two-part documentary marking the 300th anniversary of the Khalsa. It paints a vivid and compelling portrait of the Sikh community worldwide. The film looks at the emergence of the Sikhs in the 15th century, with the teaching of justice, social harmony, peace and equality of all people. It traces how Sikhism further developed in the face of persecution, culminating in the founding of the Khalsa.
Sikh, Rattle, and Roll Directed by Ekta Walia
Sikh, Rattle and Roll profiles Jasbir Singh, a young British Sikh, as he prepares for his dastaar bandhi ceremony. This passage into his adult life is of great concern to Jas as he is unsure if he will be able to keep his identity while adopting a new appearance and role in society. But what causes him the most concern is whether or not he’ll still be able to express his love for all things Elvis.
Sikhs in World Wars Produced by Vicky Singh
This film looks at the role of the Sikhs who fought in the two World Wars. Sikh units served with distinction on the German and Turkish fronts in the 1914-18 war, and in Europe, Africa and Burma between 1939 and 1945. Thousands won awards, five of them the Victoria Cross (Britain’s highest award for gallantry). During the First World War Sikhs made up nearly 20% of the British Indian Army, despite being only 2% of the population. At the end of the Second World War the British Indian Army had a total strength of 2.5 million, and again the Sikhs made up a disproportionately large part of it. They were regarded as the mainstay of the Army.