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Friday, January 26, 2007

Hey California, what are you doing on 02/03/07?

Spinning Wheel Film Festival, Bay Area 2007

Why there is only one thing to do, which is to go to the Bay Area's Spinning Wheel Film Festival! This year's Film Festival will be in the Cubberley Auditorium at Standford University’s School of Education.

Luckily the fine folks at Dashmesh Pictures (who?) will have two of their successful shorts shown at this event. As seen in Toronto and Washington DC last October, the SWFF Bay Area Film Festival will show Gatka 1: The Experimentation and The Sikh on the Street.

It's great honor to have these two simple shorts part of their 2007 lineup. A big shout out to the Bay Area Committee who thought about us.

Two other really good films will be shown at this event as well that are a must watch, as seen below:

The Gold Braclet
Written, Directed, and Produced by Kavi Raz

A great fictional film, based on a true story, which artistically capturing the 9/11 aftermath faced by the Sikh community in the United States.

Directed by Shonali Bose

Another great fictional film that I got to watch at Houston Camp which covers the post 1984 massacre in India where thousands of innocent Sikhs were killed.

So what are you waiting for California? Go support and attend this event.

See ya at the movies!

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Movie keeps memory, message alive.

News Source: The Arizona Republic
Publication Date: 01/18/07


Before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Balbir Singh Sodhi was a respected gasoline station owner in east Mesa who built a new life after emigrating from India.

Sodhi and his three brothers chose the United States because our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

He was slain outside his gas station four days after the terrorist attacks simply because he wore a turban as required by his Sikh faith. His attacker thought he looked like an Arab.

Sodhi's death was a harsh reminder that religious freedom has not always equaled religious tolerance in our country.

Throughout our nation's history, members of numerous religions have been victims. Singh Sodhi became a dramatic new example as the result of one man's misguided and violent reaction to our nation's worst national tragedy.

Like most thinking people in the Valley, I was appalled by Singh Sodhi's murder, an innocent man slain without reason.

My next question was, who are the Sikhs?

Two years later, I found myself sitting on the floor in a Sikh temple in central Phoenix, wearing no shoes, interviewing Harjit Singh Sodhi of Mesa and Rana Singh Sodhi of Gilbert, Balbir's brothers.

Their fourth brother, Sukhpal, a San Francisco cab driver, also had been shot to death a year after Balbir's slaying, although police there did not consider it a hate crime. The two murders seemed at the time like a sad end to one immigrant family's American dream.

It is an experience I'll never forget. For me, this is the essence of why I am a reporter and why I've done this job for a quarter century.

Soon, I would learn that Sikhs are different from Muslims, that they come from a different region, that their religion teaches religious tolerance because of their belief that there is more than one path to God.

As the death penalty trial of Sodhi's assailant, Frank Roque, played out weeks later in a Mesa courtroom, I also learned that the family was not vengeful, that all they wanted was a guilty verdict because Sikhs believe everyone is accountable to God and that they were repulsed by Roque's insanity defense.

Roque's sentence was reduced last year from death to life in prison without the possibility of parole because of doubts about his sanity.

From the sadness of an innocent man's murder came the birth of a mission for the brothers. The mission was from Balbir's own lips to fellow Sikhs shortly before his death to educate Americans about their largely unknown faith to avoid senseless violence as a backlash from the terrorist attacks.

"In my inside, I feel I must spend my whole life educating people. I'm trying to make my future better for myself and my children," said Rana Singh Sodhi, who lives in Gilbert.

He has spoken about religious tolerance to children in his 8-year-old son's classroom.

Now, his mission is about to get national attention. His battle for religious tolerance and his faith in American ideals is the focus of A Dream in Doubt, a documentary that premieres Sunday at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The festival is a showcase for first-time film directors.

"What's interesting about Rana is how he never loses his faith. He remains steadfast in his belief," director Tami Yeager said. "It's Rana's faith and hope that kept me fueled."

Yeager directed the documentary on a shoestring budget. Her major breakthrough was obtaining a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Yeager plans to show the documentary at the Lincoln Center in New York City on Feb. 22, and at the International Asian American Film Festival in San Francisco. She said her hope is that it will be shown nationally someday by PBS, or at least be picked up independently by PBS stations throughout the country.

Her goal is that Balbir Singh Sodhi becomes a national symbol for religious tolerance.

"It's telling the story throughout the country that we respect everybody and we deserve the same thing," Rana Singh Sodhi said. "Even if he was a Muslim, it (the terrorist attacks) wasn't his fault. It shouldn't happen to anybody."

Rana Singh Sodhi will be in Park City for the documentary. I'll be there, too. I'm in the documentary, telling the story from a reporter's viewpoint. We were two men who never would have met each other if not for tragedy, but we became united in a cause to eliminate future hate crimes.

And, despite the countless frustrations, that's what makes being a reporter a great job.

- Jim Walsh

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Go support your community...

In late December 2006, Supreet and I took a trip to the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City to view the I See No Stranger exhibit. The exhibit displays art created in the 1700 and 1800s of early Sikh devotion.

If you are in New York, or can take a trip there, be sure to go and see this art exhibit. The exhibit is only on display until the end of January (01/29/07). Downside is that the word on the street is that not many Sikhs have gone to see the exhibit, even though it is being well received by Non Sikhs.

Rubin Museum of Art in NYC.

One of the criticisms that some within the Sikh community have stated is that much of the artwork has strong influences with artistic representation from both the religions of Hinduism and Islam.

Although this is very apparent in many of the artworks, I asked this same question to one of the curators there for my own personal knowledge. The curator stated that the reason why the early Sikh devotional paintings have influences from Hinduism and Islam is that all the displayed arts were sponsored and commissioned by Non-Sikhs.

Furthermore, the curator went on to explain that various other religious figures were inserted within these paintings to show society that the Sikh figures (such as the Sikh Gurus which are portrayed in a majority of the paintings) were Godly and not ordinary humans. I personally found this explanation comforting and accurate from a historical perspective. After all it was not until modern Sikh artists, like Sobha Singh, who rejuvenated new imagery of potentially of what characteristics many popular Sikh personalities had.

Nonetheless, get down there and check this exhibit out you bama. Check out some of the photos below that provide an idiot proof guide (somewhat) on how to get to the Rubin Museum of Art.

14th St. Subway stop takes you to the Rubin.
14th St. Subway stop takes you to the Rubin.

The Rubin.
The Rubin (wow).

I See No Stranger displayed at the entrance.
I See No Stranger displayed at the entrance.

What you see right when you enter the Museum.
What you see right when you enter the Museum.

Portrait of Guru Gobind Singh and the Sahibzadeys from the early 1800s.
I had to "smuggle" this image out since no photos were allowed inside. It is a portrait of Guru Gobind Singh and the Sahibzadeys from the early 1800s. Hey, it's art to them but inspiration to us.

What you see when you enter the exhibit.
What you see when you enter the exhibit.

One of the greatest items that I enjoyed that day was seeing how knowledgeable some of the curators were there, and how they interacted with museum goers. I listened with great joy at one point to hear how a attendee of Japanese descent discuss Guru Nanak’s message of “Ek Onkar” with a curator of African American descent and how universal Sikhism is in today’s modern world.


Friday, January 05, 2007

A Nation remembers its Hero

Our Leader.
Our Poet.
Our Saint.
Our Soldier.
Our General.
Our Protector.
Our Humanitarian.
Our Hero.
Our Pride.

In loving memory of the 340th birthday of Sikhism's Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1666-1708).

Guru Gobind Singh Ji.  Sikhism's Tenth Guru.
Painting of Guru Gobind Singh with son Baba Jhujhar Singh.
(Image from SikhNet)

"I came into the world charged with the duty to uphold the right in every place, to destroy sin and evil... the only reason I took birth was to see that righteousness may flourish, that good may live, and tyrants be torn out by their roots."

- Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Simply put, Guru Gobind Singh is The Man.

A happy Gurpurab to all on this most auspicious day.