Creative Sikhs/Live Performance
Saturday, November 23, 2019
1:30 PM – 4:00 PM
Traditionally, young Sikhs lean towards careers in engineering, medicine, and IT, but as this cluster shows, there are many extremely talented Sikh artists worldwide. During the “Creative Sikhs” session, filmmakers, artists, and authors will discuss their careers in a panel format. Harjus Singh and Hansjeet Duggal, both Dodge Film School graduates, who have been involved in many of the “Destination S” films, along with Sahil Kaur Dhaliwal, Upneet Kaur-Nagpal, Lakhvir Singh, Salman Alam Khan, Teena Kaur, Ojaswee Sharma, Jagraj Wasan, Sareena Sandhu and Avtar and Mehtaab Gill will discuss their film experiences. Artists Jasmeet Kaur, Priyanka Mac, Sarabjit Kaur Singh, and Datti Kaur join world renown artists Amrit and Rabindra Kaur Singh to discuss creativity in their respective careers. Bhajneet Singh discusses his new children’s book, Meji Singh, author of a new play, discusses “What it means to be a Sikh” and Aman Batra, a Spoken Word artist, performs some of her works.
Last updated: November 19, 2019.
Spoken Word Artist
Aman K. Batra is a nationally touring, Indian-American poet from Artesia, CA. She graduated from UCLA with a BA in Creative Writing, and is currently obtaining her MFA in poetry at Antioch University. She is a National Poetry Slam finalist, a member of the 2016 and 2017 Hollywood Slam Team, and a teaching artist in Los Angeles and Long Beach county. Aman’s poetry is heavily tied to her work as an educator, activist, and intersectional feminist. Her work has been featured on All Def Poetry, Button Poetry, Vibe, BeSe, and The Huffington Post. She has been published in The Los Angeles Press, LA County Arts Commission, and Fight Evil With Poetry Anthology.
Read more about our Creative Sikhs:
Amardeep Singh was educated at The Doon School in India. He pursued Electronics Engineering at Manipal Institute of Technology, and received his MBA from the University of Chicago.
He spent 25 years at American Express while simultaneously maintaining his passionate pursuit of the literary and creative arts.
Amardeep has written two books – “LOST HERITAGE: The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan” and “THE QUEST CONTINUES: LOST HERITAGE The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan”. In these two books, he mapped the remnants of the Sikh legacy across 126 cities and villages of Pakistan.
He has produced two prior documentaries on the Sikh legacy in Pakistan – ‘PEERING SOUL’ and ‘PEERING WARRIOR’, covering the forgotten spiritual and martial legacy remnants in remote areas of Pakistan. These have been screened around the world. Presently Amardeep is leading the filming of a multi-episode documentary, ‘ALLEGORY: A Tapestry of Guru Nanak’s Travels’, to create another lasting content for posterity.
Avtar Gill is a multitalented individual who has been living in Vancouver for the past 20 plus years. He is the founding member of several non-profit organizations that work to support the youth and less privileged individuals. Avtar is also a real estate agent and the CEO of an insurance brokerage in Surrey. Avtar’s passion for helping individuals keeps him motivated to continue his charity work. He is producer with Reema Anand Productions New Delhi.
Datti Kaur is a Singaporean, born in Chennai (India) and raised in Singapore. Educated at the United World College of South East Asia, she is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia. Inspired by history, religion, culture and politics, Datti Kaur explores and expresses social issues in her artworks through the use of vibrant colors in a variety of mediums.
Hansjeet Duggal is a virtual/augmented reality& animation evangelist and an editor. His VR animated film Freiheit was selected for recognition in Annecy (the oldest and most competitive animation festival) in France. He recently got selected in American Cinema Editor’s Diversity Program and is being mentored by Oscar winning & nominated film makers His movie Jutti Kasoori which he edited was aired on PBS last November. He also produced a movie on field hockey star player Sardar Harbail Singh, and “Shades of Indigo” which is premiering at this year’s Sikhlens Arts and Films festival. He was also the editor on “The Cheez that Binds”. He also teaches in the Sikhlens Digital Voices Program which teaches filmmaking to students throughout the United States.
Harjus Singh Sethi
Harjus was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. After high school Harjus attended the University of Cincinnati, majoring in BioMedical Engineering, and eventually Chapman University getting his MFA in Film Production. Harjus’s thesis “All Quiet on the Homefront” which stars Waris Ahluwalia, was based on the true story of Bhagat Singh Thind. It has screened at Oscar qualifying film festivals such as LA Shorts. Harjus continues to write and direct films which tend to be focused on identity and power. Currently Harjus has a feature script in the final round of Sundance Labs and has worked in the industry at places like EuropaCorp and CBS.
Jagraj Singh Wasan
Jagraj Singh Wasan is a musician and filmmaker. He grew up in Singapore, moved to Los Angeles for university, and now considers the world his home. He believes music and film are two of the most powerful art forms, with the ability to move just about anyone, spark change, and help us reflect upon the things we take for granted. Topics he cares passionately for range from bullying, mental health, animal suffering, and modern-day slavery. He studied songwriting, and cinematic arts, at the University of Southern California, and has since been acting in commercials, television, and films, performing his music at festivals and events, and now intertwining his two loves in the form of his music video.
Jasmeet Kaur loves to blend art and our Baani together: art that stirs the soul and Baani that feeds the soul. Baaniart presents nature, thoughts, abstraction, spirituality and tranquility of our Sikh scriptures in vibrant colors and mediums.
Jasmeet studied Textile Design from The National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi. She worked for several years in the field of interior design and started her own company Kaur Competency LLC in San Antonio, Texas, working with residential homes and boutique hotels. She now lives in San Antonio with her husband and two sons, Darsh and Jeeve.
Khalsa Lakhvir-Singh is a religious and motivational speaker, writer, creative consultant and historian based in Nairobi, Kenya.
He loves to inspire to empower both self and others at the same time, and speaks to both young and old who want to learn more about Sikh faith, culture and history. He aspires to offer his knowledge especially to children and youth in schools on everyday challenges and issues they face by helping them realize their own inner potential.
His love for history inspired him to create and manage the Facebook page called Kenyankalasingha that highlights and celebrates the achievements of Sikhs in a Kenyan context.
Mehtaab Gill is a third-year university student in the business program at Simon Fraser University. Mehtaab is a change maker in the community as he recently started a non-profit basketball academy to provide training to the youth to help them stay away from illegal activities. He is also heavily involved within his school community as the Director of External Relations in the SFU Student Society. Mehtaab values community service as he believes it is important to engage the younger generation to align them on the right track. He is also co producer with Reema Anand Productions.
Meji is the Chief Training Consultant at the Community Behavioral Health Training Center, Concord, California. He is the Founding President of Inter-faith organization Ik Onkar Peace Foundation (2002-2006) currently a member of the Board of Trustees. It is a Co-operation Circle of the United Religions Initiative (U.R.I.), San Francisco. It has over 900 such Cooperation Circles in 80 different countries. He was a Member of the Action Coalition for Global Change, San Francisco. He was a member of the Beyond War Higher Education Group of Bay Area. He was one of the founding members (1964), Secretary (1972-1973, 78 &79), Chairman (1974, 75) of the Sikh Center of San Francisco Bay Area, El Sobrante Gurdwara. He taught Sikh Scripture Gurbani at the Gurdwara from 1990 to 2004. He was the founding Trustee and Secretary of the Sikh Foundation of North America, Redwood City, California (1966-74). In 1975 International Institute of the East Bay recognized him “For Unselfish Service to This Community.” Since 1996 he has served as a judge for the International Youth Symposium organized every year by Sri Hemkunt Foundation of New York. He was on the Board of Directors of the Inter-faith Center at Presidio in San Francisco (2002-2004).
American-born documentary filmmaker Michael Singh grew up in the Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. The son of a Punjabi farmer who was raised a Sikh, and a white Connecticut mother, Michael returned to the United States for higher education, ending up at the University of Chicago, and then USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. His award-winning work has appeared on Discovery, NBC, PBS, and Al Jazeera. His latest documentary, ‘Valentino’s Ghost: Why We Hate Arabs and Muslims,” received the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s “Voices of Courage and Conscience” award, and is designated a New York Times Critics’ Pick. It received a standing ovation at La Biennale, The Venice Film Festival, and was banned by the Sundance Film Festival and PBS due to its detailed exposé of Israel as an unapologetically racist apartheid state.
Ojaswee is an Indian Filmmaker known for his acclaimed feature length documentary “Admitted” short films Rooh, Lucky Kabootar, Butter Toast, Badalti Soch, Loneliness, Zubaan, The Last Date, The Tide Of Time, JSLive, JSLive2, The Dichotomy Of Hope, The Tide Of Time, Bodybuilding The Indian Way, Gal Ban Gayi, Kamley, and I Quit.
With more than “28 Film Festival Feathers” on his cap, his films have an official nomination to more that 17+ International Film Festivals, with notable acclaims
He is the founding producer of Rolling Frames Entertainment, heading Pinaka Mediaworks and curator to many digital video platforms in India.
Ojaswee’s key strength lies in producing content across various genre such as emotional, inspirational and sometimes, humorous.
Some of the recent acclaims
Winner “Best Documentary” at Bioscope Global Film Festival 2018
Special Mention “Best Documentary” at New Delhi Film Festival 2018
Special Mention “Best Short Film” Zubaan & The Last Date at Chandigarh Music and Film Festival 2018
Winner “Best Director for Short Film” Zubaan and The Last Date at Rajasthan International Film Festival 2018
Winner “Best Short Film” Zubaan at Rajasthan International Film Festival 2018
Special Mention “Best Short Film” Zubaan at New Delhi Short Film Festival 2018
Winner “Best Short Film ” for Bodybuilding The Indian Way at Punjabi Cinema Golden Honors 2016
Priyanka Mac is an artist interested in capturing the dynamics of color and texture. Her painting is influenced by her work within the fashion industry, and has been exhibited in private and commercial venues.
Priyanka holds an MFA from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. She lives and maintains a studio in Los Angeles, CA.
Sahil Kaur Dhaliwal
Sahil Kaur is a director, writer, actor. She graduated from University of Southern California (USC) in 2016, where she studied Communication and Acting. During university, she interned at a myriad of entertainment companies such as UTA, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Francine Maisler Casting, Mosaic/Atlas Productions, etc. Sahil has been a professional actor and writer since 2016 and made her directorial debut in 2018 with her award winning short ﬁlm “A Calling”, for which she won Outstanding Achievement for a First Time Female Director at Indie Short Fest 2019. Currently, Sahil is training as an actor in New York City and writing her freshman feature ﬁlm “Spice”.
Salman Alam Khan
A freelance photographer and documentary filmmaker from Pakistan, graduated in Media Studies with Roll of Honour from University of the Punjab. Was featured in different national magazines and Newspapers and has worked on Sikh Legacy in Pakistan with Amardeep Singh and some other international projects with TED, PBS etc. His passion is to work on cultures and human-interest stories. His film “Going Home” is premiering at this year’s Sikhlens Arts and Film Festival on Opening Night.
Sarabjit Singh is an award-winning artist living in California, San Francisco Bay Area for almost three decades. She has passionately pursued Art all her life, teaching in schools, and privately to kids and adults in past years. Her work is influenced by her Sikh roots. Creating art to heal and bring understanding in this chaotic world, one person at a time is the purpose of her art. Acrylics on canvas and paper are the medium of choice for the artist. Bright and bold colors depict the vivacious character of the people and events in her artwork. The Artist believes that colors have the power to heal. She calls her style realistic and semi realistic combined with impressionistic.
The passion and zeal of the artist has led her to evolve and explore various techniques, materials and styles and adopt some. Some of her art is in private collections in various countries. Her inspiration comes from people, travels, events, history, present times and personal life.
Sareena Sandhu is a high school junior at Menlo School, in Atherton, Northern California. She received a grant from the HAND Foundation to research the cultural integration of Punjabi Sikhs into Northern Italy, more specifically the Parmesan cheese industry, and filmed “The Cheez that Binds Us” to document it. She also utilized the film equipment from the new Sikhlens Equipment Rental Program.
She is new to the world of documentary filmmaking but has enjoyed the process of creating her first documentary and intends to pursue this art further in the future. She loves to learn about the prominence of Sikhs throughout the world and has taught her fellow classmates about Sikhism on multiple occasions. Sareena also loves traveling and stays involved with the projects she embarks on through her school by giving speeches and presentations, educating her classmates about what she has learned, connecting her classmates to her projects, and inspiring other students to carry on her work.
Satinder Kaur is a writer, director, and producer. She received her MFA in film directing from the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she was the recipient of the James Bridges Award for excellence in directing. Her short film The Last Killing produced by Ensaaf won the best short
documentary award at NewFilmmakers LA and the Amnesty International. As a U.S. Army veteran, Satinder is a fellow of the Writers Guild Foundation Veterans Writing Project, and has collaborated with LACMA on the Veterans Make Movies workshop series. Currently, she’s in development on her feature film Arresting God.
Surjit Singh Pahwa
Surjit Singh Pahwa, brain and force behind Micromeg Movies Montreal is the writer & executive producer of multiple award-winning short films like ‘Bonjour Ji’ and Ibadat (Meditation). He has scripted, directed and co-produced a short film -The International Coin Mafia and a documentary-Sikh Empire Coins. He is an individual of many places and talents as well. He worked as a Mechanical engineer in India and Cameroon Africa, prior to making a camp in Montreal, Canada while adopting anew career in IT. He is known for his love of Punjabi poetry and teachings of Sikhism as well as a proud member of Sikh Vision Montreal, Global Sikh Council UK & founding member of Punjabi Kalam Kendar (poetry group), Montreal. An ace poet and a book lover, The International Coin Mafia short movie and the documentary -Sikh Empire Coins is born out of his sheer passion for telling a story. As a production team-leader from conception to realization, He turned his dreams into reality while establishing himself as a quality film maker.
Teenaa has been extensively involved in documentaries and screenwriting. Her debut independent documentary ‘1984, When the Sun didn’t Rise’ received Busan International Film Festival’s Asian Network and Documentary fund “AND” Fund in 2015. It has been selected for “DOC WOK” of International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Films in 2014 and DOCEDGE, Kolkata in 2012.
In 2013, she was awarded a fellowship by Time Warner Foundation supported Asia Society, New York, for her first feature film screenplay ‘The White Autumn’. She was also selected by the US embassy to attend the Sundance Film Festival next year in the leadership program for making films on social change. She also received Best Investigative Film and National Film Award.
Teenaa is a Production Engineering Graduate from M.B.M. Engineering College, Jodhpur. She has worked in the Television and Ad films to pursue her dream in independent filmmaking dedicatedly since 2010. She has studied Film Appreciation and Basic Videography from Film and Television Institute of India, Pune in 2012 and PG in Mass Communications from Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan, Delhi in 2003.
The Singh Twins
Amrit & Rabindra Kaur Singh
The Singh Twins are internationally renowned contemporary British artists. Cited by Sir Simon Schama as representing ‘the artistic face of Britain’, their award-winning art engages with social, cultural, political dialogues and challenges narrow, Eurocentric perceptions of art, heritage and identity. Formal recognition includes the awarding of an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II and an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Art for ‘outstanding contribution to British art’.
Their latest exhibition ‘Slaves of Fashion’, explores how global narratives around trade, Colonialism, conflict and slavery connected to India’s historical textile industry, remain relevant to current debates on the legacies of Empire and ethical trade and consumerism today. Most recently, they were commissioned by the Royal Collections Trust to create a large scale mixed medium digital artwork which was exhibited at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London. Although more widely known for their paintings, The Singh Twins are also published illustrators, writers and filmmakers. They will be premiering “Jallianwala: Repression and Retribution” at this year’s Sikhlens Arts and Film Festival on Opening Night.
Upneet Kaur-Nagpal is a Singaporean filmmaker who thrives on the buzz of new experiences. Since 2004, Upneet has led projects, across television and online platforms with a keen eye on documentaries. Equipped with the desire to refresh tired perspectives, her documentaries find themselves amidst diverse communities – from Romany gypsies to homeless walking guides in London and Singaporean poet migrant workers. Her last short film, Singh In The Lion City, captured the essence of the Sikh diaspora in Singapore. Building on that, she was commissioned to make her first feature-length documentary on Singapore’s first Sikh arrival, The Saint Soldier.