Monday, December 29, 2008

September 2008, Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival, Idaho

SVSFF was started four years ago when his Holiness Dalai Lama inaugurated the festival. Today, it is the most highly regarded festival for films that show the human spirit at its best.

Dr. Mary Gervase, Director of the SVSFF and Education Director of the Special Winter Olympics, 2009, invited Angad to present One Light and speak on International Peace Day.

A little rough on cinematography, Angad's message transcends the craft!” said the selection committee.

Angad was the youngest filmmaker and speaker to address audiences during separate screenings in Sun Valley at the Liberty Theater and the gorgeous Sun Valley Opera House.

Angad was also interviewed by the local radio station and featured in the SunValley Online News.

Dr. Balwant Singh Sekhon of Kalgidhar Society flew from Richmond, VA to attend the festival and hear Angad speak.

This trip brought the most amazing stories to unfold. While there was Gay, who has Sikh roots and was exhilarated to re-connect with them after decades, most people in Sun Valley had a chance to learn about the Sikh spirit for the first time and they related to it instantly.

There was also Basha, who had come across One Light on-line almost a year ago and had written to Angad then, hoping to meet with him some day.

SVSFF served as a union of so many people longing for the revival of the human spirit.

It was inspiring to watch powerful, uplifting films that were every bit as good or better than most commercial ones. The films that move you, inspire you and leave you charged to do much much more.

Equally inspiring was meeting with like- minded directors and producers of films with strong spiritual, environmental and human themes.

Another thought provoking event was to hear children present from Poems for Peace project which brings together voices from children all over the globe. Peace means so many different things; food to the hungry, warmth to the freezing, a motherly love to an orphan, a friend to an abused or even the breath of fresh air amidst the constant smell of gun powder.
Thank You, Dr. Gervase and SVSFF team for this honor and experience. Thank You Angel and Gay for the lovely pictures. The spirit and the memories of this event will always be a part of our being.

September 2008, Wood River High School, Idaho

Mrs. Janet Denis, Student Services Teacher, invited Angad to speak at Wood River High School.

In a letter to Angad’s principal following the visit, Mrs. Denis wrote:

“Recently, about 300 of our students had the honor and the privilege to watch Angad’s video, One Light, to hear his message and also to ask him questions.

I was so impressed with the poise and ease with
which he addressed the large groups, with the powerful message he shared and how cheerfully he repeated it all 4 times.

His message about making the world a friendlier place by communicating with your neighbors, about being strong in your beliefs, about believing in yourself, and about not being angry when you are teased was incredibly powerful for our students to hear, but even more so because it was delivered by someone their own age.

When he talked about his basketball, marching band and keeping up with homework, they really related to him. When he turned a question about Sikh genocide over to his mother, many eyes were opened wide about religious intolerance.

Our Amnesty International Club is inspired to learn even more about this subject. Our Speech classes noted his polished speaking ability. Our Sociology class asked many historical and religious questions.
My personal and Social responsibility class was jolted into acting on volunteering ideas they have. Students that have been bullied or made to feel like an outsider were encouraged to deal with that in a positive way.
Our severely handicapped population was happy to be included in a presentation about being different.

As I told Angad, we don’t know what seeds of hope were planted that day.

Not only were other teachers impressed, many students wrote him personal letters telling him how he has inspired them and how they relate to being treated differently for lots of different reasons. I hope they encourage him to continue sharing his message whenever possible.

I also hope that you will continue to support and encourage this amazing young man to reach out to more students whenever the opportunity arises for him. You must be very proud to have such an exceptional student and ambassador in your school.”

Thank You, Mrs. Denis and the teachers at WHRS for the opportunity. Thank you students for the most inspiring and heartfelt letters. Your positive attitude, openness and desire to take your own steps give a big hope for a better world.

Oct 2008, Sikh Arts and Film Festival, New York

At the fourth annual Sikh Film Festival in the heart of Manhattan, the audience was a sea full of Sikhs and friends of the Sikhs.
The Gala night at Wall Street’s beautiful Cipriani restaurant was attended by lots of New Yorkers and was star studded by celebrities as well as intellectuals from Hofstra University Chair of Sikh Studies.

The lavish Waldorf Astoria and the limousine rides to the events were a novel experience to us. However, we felt right at home when we enjoyed the famous New York Style Pizza at Angelo’s on 55th Street. We loved their pizza and licked the serving of extra sauce clean!

The screening of the films took place at the prestigious Asian Society and Museum and the theatre was jam packed.

It was a privilege to meet some of the greatest directors in the Sikh Cinema, for example Emmy winners for Sikhs in America and makers of PBS films such as Dream in Doubt.
Dr. Sarab Singh Neelam’s ‘Ocean of Pearls’ was featured late in the evening, it was so popular that hundreds of people had to be turned away.

Sikh Cinema has a bright future with artists like Sarah Singh, who much like Angad, produced her film ‘The Sky Below’ single handedly.

The next day, Angad got an opportunity to meet and interview Jagmohan Singh Premi, who was repeatedly assaulted over many months at his high school. The Sikh Coalition intervened and now Jagmohan is enrolled in a school where he can feel safe.

Thank You, Dr. Johar for honoring ‘One Light’ amongst the best in Sikh Cinema.The enthusiasm and the way New Yorkers from different walks of life came together for the event were really awe-inspiring.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

March 2008, National Film Festival For Talented Youth, Seattle

Each Spring NFFTY- showcases films produced by talented filmmakers 22 and under from across the U.S. and the world.
It was a hallmark for One Light to be selected as the top 73 youth films across the country and the only one from Georgia.
The Film Festival started with a red carpet opening night gala. Besides screening of films there were workshops and opportunity to meet with fellow young filmmakers.

NFFTY is aimed to be the most influential film festival for the youth. “Think Sundance for young people.” Says Executive Director Jesse Harris.

At the screening Q&A, Angad greatly improved the perception of South in the eyes of the audience, filmmakers and reporters. Most questions concerned with prejudices in the South and if it were getting better. One Light answered some questions by bringing out the progressive mindset of one little neighborhood community that represents the new South.
Angad was also honored with the precious ‘Audience Choice - Favorite Very Young Filmmaker’ award and interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor a national newspaper.
As part of the NFFTY, One Light is being shown on Comcast Video On Demand in the Seattle area for one year until April 2009.
An unforgettable event happening next door was a vegetarian conference. It was a delight to see the eco friendly face of Seattle.

Another highlight of the trip was the presence of the Seattle Sikh Youth and our friends who drove down from great distances to be a part of the festival. Thank You!

Thank You, UNITED SIKHS for sponsoring the travel. Thank You NFFTY organizers and volunteers. Pictures: Courtesy NFFTY

March 2008, Monroe High School, LA and Congressional Youth Leadership Council, Atlanta

Monore High School, California - - Judith Quiñones, a school teacher, invited Angad to lead the 9th grade workshop for their Academy’s interdisciplinary curriculum with a focus on: building community and identifying one’s own responsibility for effecting the group good.

In a letter to Angad’s principal the Academy Coordinator and a past California Teacher of the year, Kelly Hannock, wrote, “ Having Angad join us as the keynote speaker during this community awareness program certainly helped to inspire our students to engage in meaningful dialogue and to take action through their Advisory classes to solve problems they have identified together.

Since Angad’s visit, these Advisory class projects have taken off, with our ninth grade students reading to preschoolers in the park, speaking to middle school students about what it takes to be successful in high school, making films about what it really means to be a parent (in an attempt to address the growing teen pregnancy issue in our school), building a community garden, and creating a drug awareness program.

While we had many speakers from the community pres
ent to our students about the type of differences they could make, it was really Angad who caught their attention. Knowing that someone even younger than themselves had already made such an impact in his own community seemed to touch their sensibilities in a way the other adult speakers could not.

In a survey at the end of the event, an overwhelming majority of our students and teachers stated that they would definitely repeat this Virtual Field trip experience next year, with well over 80% listing Angad as a highlight of the day.

So I thank you for allowing Angad to join and participate with us. It was quite an experience for us all, one that will continue to inspire action within our school and within our community. How great to see students learning from each other and engaging with caring adults to make our own small world a better place.”

Thank You, Teachers, for the opportunity to serve and for your hospitality and the delecious vegetarian food. Thank You, students for the positive actions. The world will be a better place because of your baby steps.

One Light also screened at the 8th grade level in Angad’s own Northwestern Middle School and at the National Young Leader’s State Conference held in Atlanta, GA, where Angad represented his school.

Thank You NMS Staff for supporting and nominating Angad.

Friday, December 26, 2008

April – Aug Children and Peace Film Festivals, San Diego, Danville, Chicago, Atlanta..

Danville International Children’s Film Festival, Bay Area, California, a unique film festival by children for children screened One Light for 2 days on May 18th and 19th and nominated it for the ‘Best Young Documentary’. The festival was attended by hundreds of children from the Bay Area. Director Wendy Madden reported that “One Light was very well received and although it was edged out of the Best Young Documentary award by a tough competition it was also one of the top competitors for the 'Audience Award' suffering a narrow defeat by a film called "Loon". The comments made on our ballot cards were very complementary”. Thank you, Wendy.

Peace on Earth Film Festival in Chicago screened One Light on August 30th. Through the power of motion pictures, POEFF endeavors to enlighten and empower individuals, families and communities to step out of the ignorance of conflict, violence and divisiveness into the light of communication, compassion and understanding. Again, One Light was the youngest film selected. The event was attended by hundreds of Chicago peace lovers. Thank You, Nick Angotti.

San Diego International Children’s Film Festival
screened One Light on Saturday, August 23rd at San Diego Central Library, Downtown, as a part of a month long festival that showed the best 100 Children’s films from around the world; the festival also included film making workshops and other fun events. Thank You, Dan Bennet.
Atlanta Film Festival’s Teen Screen
showed One Light and invited Angad to speak on April 18th. Tennessee’s Bradley Central and Walker Valley High Schools sent representatives of their broadcast media programs; they visited with Angad and learned about his cause.
Thank You, Elizabeth Hamilton. and – committed to inspiring the world through positive media, selected One Light for the ‘Everyday Heroes Channel’. The video is being watched by hundreds of people around the globe and they have written to Angad on how they were inspired. Thank You, Kristeen Kaur and Nipun Mehta.
Throughout summer, screenings also took place in the Sikh Youth camps and interfaith seminars in Tampa, Atlanta and U.K.

June 2008 - Worldwide Satellite Broadcast on Supreme Master TV

On June 5th, 2008 Supreme Master Television (A Spiritual and Environmentally focused TV Channel) broadcast a story on Angad’s work to promote harmony in the world on their free satellite Cinema Scene program which is viewed by millions of people in all continents of the world. The program was broadcast in Punjabi and English with subtitles in fourteen languages and included an interview with Angad. Angad not only got a chance to speak abut his project but shared another great passion of his: Environmental Conservation through Vegetarianism. The program can be viewed above or downloaded from their website. Thank You Supreme Master TV, for spreading compassion and peace in the world.

June 2008, Spinning Wheel Film Fest and iLead Youth Retreat, D.C.

In June of 2008, Angad was one of the featured director to speak at the Spinning Wheel Film Festival, held in the state capitol at the prestigious John.F.Kennedy Center.

The gala night held at the Organization of American States Hall featured awardees for making significant contributions towards equality, diversity and service such as the 97 year old Marathoner Fauja Singh, Writer Laurie Bolger (Manjyot Kaur), Dr. Paul Taylor of the Smithsonian Institute and Ranbir Kaur, the young Sikh U.S. Army woman deployed in Iraq.

The film festival celebrated the stories of Sikhs worldwide and brought diverse interpretations of their culture, identity, and history to the screen. While both entertaining and educating, the films also challenged conventional perspectives on a wide range of complex issues facing Sikhs and the world community alike.

One of the highlights was to spend a few hours with Fauja Singh, the 97 year old marathon runner who trains by running 10 miles every single day of the year! He runs on ginger curry and is a vegetarian. His sense of humor and child like cheer won us over and he soon became the center of attraction at the Kennedy Center.

Read more about the event in India Today, the most popular magazine in India. They also did an excerpt in print edition for the Punjab region. Sher-e-Panjab a leading Punjabi language newspaper in North America did a beautiful story on Angad’s work as well.

Following the Film Festival, Angad was invited to lead a week long film making workshop for teens at the iLead Youth Retreat (by Kaur Foundation) held at the beautiful Claymont campgrounds in Charlestown, WV. He volunteered to work with the youth in a ‘Do=Learn’ manner to participate in production of his new social awareness documentary Roots and Wings.
15 attendees from the age 13-16 went back empowered with motivation and practical skills to start working on their own films; films that engage in unifying and create social awareness and reforms.
Together they produced a short trailer which was much appreciated by the parents and won a first place in Sikhnet Online Film Festival of 2008. Please Read more about that workshop at the fastest growing online Sikh magazine
Thank You, Mirin Kaur and Kaur Foundation volunteers for the opportunity, love and support. Angad came back with 75 new friends and wonderful memories. Thank You, Adrian Bernal for helping Angad with the workshop.

Nov 2007, World Première SWFF, Hollywood and Toronto

World Premiere of One Light took place at the prestigious Writers Guild Theater, Beverly Hills, California in Nov 2007 as a part of the Spinning Wheel Film Festival, California. It was attended by over five hundred people.

Angad lovingly referred to as the Youngest Filmmaker in the Sikh Cinema, was one of the three Sikh Directors/Producers invited onstage for a 30 minute Q&A session along with Valarie Kaur(Divided We Fall) and Mirin Kaur (On Common Ground) at the opening night Gala dinner.
Angad’s thoughtful answers charmed the audience and he was given a standing ovation when the Master of Ceremonies, Roop Singh of the U.K. re-invited him on stage and gave him a big hug.

The film festival celebrated the stories of Sikhs worldwide and was attended by city, county and state dignitaries from California and all over the U.S.A. One Light screened next to “Divided We Fall”, which has very beautifully addressed the issue of hatred against Sikhs, Arabs and South Asians post 9-11 USA.

Angad also got to meet with L.A. County Reserve Sheriff Jagjit Singh and renowned artists such as the Singh twins from the U.K.

After the screening Angad flew to the SWFF Toronto for screening and speaking.

Thank You, Inni Kaur, Bicky Singh and Orange County Sangat, especially Principal Sawan Singh Ji for the unforgettable affection and honor. Thank SWFF International for screening One Light at multiple locations.