Identifiable by their colorful turbans which can be seen in every borough of New York, the Sikh community has established a major presence here. To celebrate its rich heritage, traditions and culture, the first Sikh International Film Festival does so through a diverse mix of independent features, documentary and short films at the Sikh International Film Festival 2009 this September 18-19, at the Asia Society.
Three films--1984 and the Via Dolorosa Project, My Mother India and Flying Sikhs: A History of Sikh Fighter Pilots (a World Premiere)--open the SIFF '09 with the Feature Session on Friday, September 18. One film addresses the genocide in India 25 years ago when thousands of innocent Sikhs were killed in the aftermath of assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi; an intimate portrait of valiant Sikh pilots during WWI and WWII ends this emotionally charged set on an upbeat note.
On Saturday, September 19 the Documentary Session explores the topic of urban gang violence in A Warrior’s Religion. Through an enchanting history of turban--from ancient Christianity to modern day Sikhs--Turbanology (in its US Premiere) explores the impact of the war on terror and western society’s reaction to this humble article of faith.
A formal black-tie event at Cipriani Wall Street--The Sikh Heritage Gala--concludes the Festival. Acclaimed film-director and producer Mira Nair is the Guest of Honor for an evening of dance performance, art auction, and live entertainment accentuated by Bhangra pioneers RDB from the UK.
Film Festival Chair Dr. Paul Johar, explained, “The primary goal of the films we show is to hold a mirror not only for Sikhs but to an audience worldwide. We have a diverse set of films, and encourage film makers with our support every year by awarding $15,000 in prize money!”
Winners in the Documentary and Short Films will be selected by a notable panel of jury, including Ocean of Pearls Director Dr. Sarab Singh Neelam, Monsoon Wedding screenwriter Sabrina Dhawan and ABC News Nightline correspondent Vicki Mabrey.
In 2008, Governor David A. Paterson has issued a proclamation declaring the Sikh International Film Festival dates as Sikh Heritage Week, in recognition of the Sikh Art & Film Foundation’s efforts to promote cultural diversity in New York.
For a complete schedule, film details and tickets go to: www.sikharts.com
Quick Facts about Sikh-Americans
Sikhism originated in Punjab region of South Asia (India) over 500 years ago
It's the 5th largest religion with over 25 Million Sikhs worldwide
They have lived in North America for over 100 years
Dilip Singh Saund was the first Asian-American and Sikh Congressman in 1956
Over Half Million Sikhs live in North America