2008 Sikh Arts and Spinning Wheel Festival

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Sikh Art, Film, Culture Showcased at Festival Nov 14, 2008, Beverly Hills, CA

Sikhs from all over North America and the U.K. came together on Nov. 14 at the Writer’s Guild Theater here to celebrate Sikh film and culture at the 2008 Sikh Arts and Spinning Wheel Festival. Over 750 attendees participated in the Maharaja-Maharani gala opening which also included representatives of the film industry, critics and supporters of the arts.

Following an elaborate buffet spread in the foyer of the auditorium where striking exhibits by leading Sikh artists were prominently displayed for sale, the gathering moved into the theatre for the official commencement of the festival. Opening remarks were made by charming Chair of the festival, Ravin Kaur Kohli and was then joined by Bobby Kohli, who after an amusing stand up routine assisted in emceeing the proceedings.

Co-Founder and Chairman, Board of Trustees, Spinning SWFF Intl Inc. Dr. Birinder Ahluwalia who had flown in from Toronto to participate in the event congratulated the festival’s local President, Bicky Singh and volunteers for their leadership in putting up its 5th Festival in a row.

Supporter and well wisher Dr A.S.Marwah took the gathering briefly back into the history of the Sikhs who first arrived in the US and had shown great courage and fortitude in overcoming several legal and communal injustices which has now led to the good life they enjoy today. He hoped that one day one of the community would follow the footsteps of African-American President-elect Barack Obama and make their way into the White House.

Sardar Harbinder Singh presented an interesting introduction to the Sikhpoint 2009 calendar which was released at the event. Titled “A Walk Through History,” each month in the calendar is dedicated to a location that demonstrates aspects of Sikh history.

Heritage Awards were presented by Sumita Batra of Ziba Beauty to leading Sikh artists who have contributed significantly to Sikh research and art. Amongst the Heritage Award receivers were Julius Bryant, Michael O’Keefe from the British Library, Jagdip Jagpal for his contribution to the Wallace Collection, Surnjit Bahia for his contribution to Sikh military history during World War I in France, Amrit and Rabinder Singh for exposing Sikh art in public and private houses, Gurprit Basran for his invaluable contribution to the Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail, and Amarjit Khalra for his contribution to the Spirit Born movement.

Filmmakers were appreciated for their significant contribution with the Creative Media Award. Among the Filmmakers awarded were Jaswinder Singh, Future Computing India/ Sikhpoint, Raj Singh for Pantee 35, Amrit and Rabindra Singh for The Making of Liverpool, Sandeep Singh for Cultural Safari, Angad Singh for Roots and Wings, Paul Dhillon for Bhangra Generation and Sweet America, Michael Singh for Prisoner’s Song, Minu Singh for Chillianwala, Baljit Sangra for Warrior Boys, and Greg Cote for Kabaddi Cops. Presentations were made by personalities from the film industry, political leaders, sponsors and supporters.

Three films were presented on the night of the reception. Sikhs in America, American made, and the North American Premier of Unraveling. After the presentation of the films the Sikhpoint 2009 calendar was officially released and distributed.

The program on Nov. 15 saw over 2,000 people attend the all-day event. Full of four clusters and 17 filmmakers, community members, volunteers, and critics congregated to watch the documentary and feature films. Question and Answer sessions concluded each of the four clusters as attendees had the opportunity to directly ask the filmmakers themselves about their work.

On Nov.16, the final day, the Spinning Wheel Film Festival showcased Sikh Art Lectures for the very first time. Despite the fire and freeway blockages, there were almost 700 attendees at the sessions spread throughout the day.

Sarinjit Singh lectured about the Anglo-Sikh Wars and described the causes and consequences of the tumultuous period between 1839 and 1845. The Singh Twins, Amrit and Rabinder Singh, explored some of their most well-known paintings housed in major public collections around Britain. One of their collections included The Iqbalnama Series which focused on the Scottish Sikh Relations figure.

Julius Bryant lectured about the life of Maharajah Duleep Singh by examining 15 images of his lifestyle.

In another session Jagdip Jagpal discussed the Wallace Collection of Sikh Arms and Armour.

Harbinder Singh lectured on the Epic of Saragarhi. Harbinder’s discussion led to a positive crowd reaction as all attendees commended him on his work. Cluster six finished with Michal O’Keefe’s lecture on the Biritish Library and an overview of Sikh artifacts and paintings at the British Library.

The final session “Creative Sikhs “ moderated by Bandana Kaur ,the first of its kind, created a platform dedicated to showcasing Sikhs in the Visual, Audio, and Entertainment Industries. Among the panel were Guru Singh, an actor and director, Jagmeet Singh, an emcee and Hip Hop Musician, Jas Ahluwalia, a professional tabla player, Laura Kim an executive in the entertainment industry, Mandeep Sethi, a Hip Hop musician, Minu Singh a singer and filmmaker, the Singh Twins the artists, Sri Kartar Kaur Khalsa. an artist of Sikh and non-Sikh art, and Tanya Moni, an artist. The eager audience participated and interacted animatedly with the panel in discussions on various aspects of their specialty. Mandeep Sethi, Jagmeet Singh, Jas Ahluwalia and Gunjiv Singh Bhasin performed live for the audience.

The events were followed by parties at the Tanzore and Nirvana Restaurants in Beverly Hills.

President Bicky Singh termed the festival as an unqualified success. He believes the right decision was taken in bringing the festival to Hollywood as it automatically raises the profile of the event, Hollywood being what it is. He was delighted at the response the SWFF Hollywood received for screenings, an impressive figure of 156 and it was a monumental task to prune it down to the 22 shown. He was also happy to see that mainstream America was getting an exposure to Sikh culture, evidenced from the fact that 50% of the attendees on the opening night were sections of people of American origin. He attributed the major part of the success of the festival to its Chair, Ravin Kaur Kohli who, he said, had spearheaded the function.

More news

5th Annual Sikh Film Festival 2008 and Sikh Heritage Awards Gala 2008 October 02, 2008 NEW YORK—(U.S. ASIAN WIRE)

Celebrate the rich Heritage, Traditions and Culture of Sikhs and the Asian immigrant experience through a diverse mix of independent Documentaries, Short and Feature Films at the 5th Annual Sikh Film Festival 2008 on Saturday, October 4, 2008, 10 am to 12 Midnight at the Asia Society on Park Avenue in New York City.

Headlining the phenomenal collection of 15 Films from across the globe is the Feature Presentation and New York Premiere of the critically acclaimed film – Ocean of Pearls (USA) directed by Dr. Sarab Singh Neelam.

Dr. Neelam’s first film Ocean of Pearls is a labor of love of over 10 years. He felt it is needed to break down barriers just as great African Americans did for their community. Ocean of Pearls is the story of a young Sikh doctor struggling with the inequities of the American Health System and ultimately his own identity. It speaks to the universal challenge of how so many people (not just Sikhs) have to balance romance, family, ethics and spirituality in today's complex world. Dr. Neelam hopes it will be an inspiration to all.

The Documentary Session has 4 powerful films covering the wide spectrum of current social issues to historical art and traditions of Punjabis in South Asia. The PBS Independent Lens featured A Dream in Doubt (USA) directed by Tami Yeager profiles the violent aftermath of 9/11 where Sikhs were singled out because of their turbans and beards, while Sarah Singh’s The Sky Below (USA) takes a contemporary look at the 1947 Partition of the Indian Sub-Continent. Emmy Award Winner Sikhs in America (USA) directed by Niall McKay and Marissa Aroy shows how Sikhs maintain their cultural traditions while also participating in the American dream. Finally, Navdeep Singh Kandola’s Pahelwani (India) shot in West (Pakistan) and East (India) Punjab traces the history and traditions of the dying art of Punjabi wrestling.

Short Films showcase the talent and work of directors covering thought provoking topics such as the 1984 Sikh Genocide, post 9/11 Racial Profiling, Community Police relations through sport, and the proud traditions of the Sikhs with films such as Saving Mom and Dad (France) by Kartik Singh, The Holy Duels of Hola Mohalla (India) by Vani Subramanian, On Common Ground (USA) by US DOJ and SALDEF, Warrior Saints (USA) by Kevin Lee, Reaching for Home (USA) by Jasmeet Singh Bansal , and Kabaddi Cops (Canada) by Greg Cote.

The morning Children’s Session covers topics geared towards young Sikh-Americans and their friends. These include Sabat Surat (Canada) directed by Jaspreet Kaur, One Light (USA) directed by 14 year old Angad Singh, Sikh, Rattle and Roll (UK) directed by Ekta Walia, and finally The Sikh Next Door (USA) directed by Tami Yeager.

This is the first year the Foundation will present Cash Prizes totaling $15,000 to winners of each Session: Best Children’s $2,500, Best Short Film $3,500, Best Documentary $6,000 and Feature Presentation $3,000.

A distinguished Panel of Judges, who will be seated with the audience, will determine winners in the Short Film and Documentary genres. These include “A List” Hollywood and TV Actresses Katheryn Winnick and Navi Rawat. Celebrity New Yorkers such as Aseem Chhabra - Freelance Writer & South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) Board Member, Sabrina Dhawan - Writer Monsoon Wedding & Director of Saanjh, Vicki Mabrey - Correspondent for ABC News Nightline, and Carol Anne Riddell – Education Reporter & Weekend Anchor NBC News 4 New York. Rounding up the Judges are prominent Sikhs from all walks of life: Dr. Daljit Dhaliwal - Anchor for PBS Foreign Exchange & Global Watch, Dr. Narinder Sing Kapany - Father of Fiber Optics & Philanthropist, and Dr. Sarab Singh Neelam - Director of Ocean of Pearls.

At the conclusion of the Feature Presentation, the Awards Ceremony will take place in the Lila Acheson Wallace Auditorium, which will be followed by an After Party at the Asia Society’s Garden Court. The After Party will provide the audience a chance to mingle with fellow Festival guests, meet the Filmmakers, Judges, Actors, and Celebrities while listening and dancing to high-energy Bhangra music by New York’s own DJ Rekha – Creator & Producer, Basement Bhangra!

According to the Film Festival Chair, Dr. Paul Johar, “We are expecting each Session to be completely sold out. The Festival is being extensively covered by the mainstream media such as Village Voice, Bloomberg Radio, and New York Times, in addition to several Indian-American media outlets. The primary goal of this Festival is to create awareness and pride in the diversity, culture and history of the Sikhs and highlight the contributions made by the Sikhs in America, India and other parts of the world.”

Due to the overwhelming response from the public, the All Day Passes and Feature Presentation (seating 270) were sold out on 9/30/2008.


Celebrate the rich Heritage, Traditions & Culture of Sikhs with a “Star Studded” Evening of Awards, Dance, Art Auction, Fun and Entertainment at the Sikh Heritage Awards Gala 2008 on Friday, October 3, 2008, 7pm at the Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.

Awards will be presented to individuals who have Contributed towards Elevating the Sikh Experience: Vision - Stuart Rabinowitz, President of Hofstra University, Leadership - Ajay Banga, Chief Executive Officer of Citi Asia Pacific, and Creativity - Susan Stronge, Senior Curator of Asian Department of The Victoria & Albert Museum.

H.E. General (Ret.) JJ Singh – Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, India will be the Chief Guest at the Gala. He will be accompanied by confirmed Special Guests: Honorable Thomas P. DiNapoli - Comptroller of New York State, Honorable Tarlochan Singh - M.P., India, Honorable Navjot Singh Sidhu - M.P., India. We are also expecting (not confirmed) Special Guests: Honorable David Paterson – Governor of New York State, Honorable Ronen Sen – Indian Ambassador to USA. Celebrity Guests expected at the Gala include Bollywood and Hollywood Stars such as Kabir Bedi, Padma Lakshmi and Cathy Moriarty.

World class Entertainment will be headlined with a live performance by the acclaimed Punjabi & Sufi Recording Artist Rabbi Shergill of “Bulla Ki Jana” and “Avengi Ja Nahin” fame! He will be followed by a Special Guest Performance of Punj Darya by Padma Shree Vikramjit Singh. Finally, the guests will get a chance to dance to the high energy percussion beats of Bhangra music by the Creator & Producer of Basement Bhangra, New York’s – DJ Rekha.

The Mistress and Master of Ceremonies will be none other than Film and TV Actress Katheryn Winnick (credits include Failure to Launch, When Nietzsche Wept, and Law & Order) , and Dr. Chirinjeev Khaturia - Founder, PlanetSpace, Inc.

A silent auction of exquisite Sikh Art will also be held during the Heritage Gala.

“We aim to cultivate a greater and more accurate understanding of the Sikh way of life within the American community at large” said Mr. Teji Bindra President of the Sikh Art & Film Foundation. “This year, we have raised the bar and expanded our PR campaign targeting Print, TV and Web media towards reaching a broader audience across the New York area” adds Mr. Bindra.

Visit www.sikharts.com for More Information and Promotional Materials

Contact: Mr. Hansdip Singh Bindra Chair – Marketing & Media [email protected]

Ms. Shruti Tiwari Event Organizer – Media Consultant [email protected]

External links