SAFF 2022 Creative Sikhs + Live Performance
Traditionally, young Sikhs lean towards careers in engineering, medicine, and IT, but as this cluster shows, there
Traditionally, young Sikhs lean towards careers in engineering, medicine, and IT, but as this cluster shows, there are many extremely talented Sikh artists. During the “Creative Sikhs” session, several filmmakers and authors will discuss their careers in a panel format.
Hansjeet Duggal, Harjus Singh and Kashif Alvi, Dodge Film School graduates, who have been involved with “Project S” and “Destination S” films, along with Ojaswwee Sharman, Aneesha Madhok, Manpreet Dhillon, Indy Saini, Bhupinder Singh Bhasin, Davinder Singh, Ishaan Singh and A.K. Sandhu, will discuss their film experiences. Several writers including Karen Dosanjh, Gurpreet Kaur Bains,Bhajneet Singh, and Asma Qadri will discuss creativity in their respective careers. and at 3:00 PM we will have a live performance from Aman Batra, a Spoken Word artist, who will perform some of her works. Nikki Gill will moderate our Creative Sikhs session.
The Frida Cinema – THEATER 1
305 E 4th St #100
Santa Ana, CA 92701
CREATIVE SIKHS MODERATOR: NIKKI GILL
Nikki Gill has spent her entire life in the world of film and television production. As a teenager, she began filming and editing video while pursuing her Bachelor of Arts at York University. Today, Nikki serves IMC among the city’s preeminent postproduction facilities as it’s CFO. However, in a shop as diverse as IMC, responsibilities entailed so much more than crunching numbers. The company specialized in most facets of post and demanded a highly diversified skill set from its executives. It is evident that the loyalty and dedication she has given to the company is well reflected by the shop’s slate of top-name clients; CTV, CBC, Shaw, CP Rail, Discovery, MuchMusic, YTV, are merely a few. Nikki’s vast industry experience and passion for all forms of media are also serving her well as a talented Executive Producer for TV shows such as Fight Xchange. For over 35 years, Nikki has continued to work in filmmaking. Now, Nikki continues her passion for film as one of the MCs for this year’s Sikhlens Art and Film Festival.
+ Live Performance
Aman K. Batra is a Punjabi-American poet from Artesia, CA. She is a TEDx speaker, a National Poetry Slam finalist, and has toured colleges, universities, and poetry venues across the country. She graduated from UCLA with a BA in Creative Writing, and is currently obtaining her MFA in poetry from Antioch University. Aman’s poetry is heavily tied to her commitment as an educator and an activist. Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, All Def Poetry, Button Poetry, Vibe, Bustle, and Fight Evil With Poetry – Anthology. For more, follow her on socials @amankbatra and her website: amankbatra.com.
Aneesha Madhok – Actress
Aneesha Madhok is the lead actress of the upcoming feature film Bully High directed by Bill McAdams Jr. She graduated from University of Southern California in Theatre and Screenwriting, where she was also the founder and president of the USC Standup comedy club- JokeSCters. Her short film “The Dancer Girl” won Independent Filmmakers Showcase in 2017 and premiered at The Grove Pacific Theatre. She is fluent in six languages- English, Spanish, Punjabi, Farsi, Hindi, and Hebrew.
Aneesha’s film, Bully High will be screened at the Sunday Afternoon Matinee session, Sunday, November 20th at 1:00 PM – 3:35 PM.
Manpreet Dhillon – Filmmaker
Born in Punjab-India, I always feel lucky to spend the first 20 years of my life at a home surrounded by farms and nature. Being born in a Punjabi Jatt Sikh Family, I was supposed to ask my parents for a Motorbike when I turned 18, but instead I asked for a computer. I wanted to learn more, I wanted more experience and more skills. So, my parents bought me a computer and every day when I sit on my computer, I will do something creative and new. This process kept going on for years and I taught myself entertainment industry software like Photoshop, Premiere and After Effects. I was not great in them, but I was sparked enough to learn more of it.
I moved to Australia in 2014 where I completed my Bachelor of Aviation and gained Permanent Residency. I did not manage to find any work ion Aviation and then I applied for Western Australia Police Force. I just needed something to stabilize my life while I freely think about making films. I have been working as a Police Officer for last 4 years but meanwhile I have been very passionately chasing my dream of becoming a filmmaker. I am now studying parttime as a Filmmaker Student in Perth and always being surrounded with like-minded people. I have worked as a Director/Editor on the projects mentioned below. The following films I have directed and edited so far include Yaarian, Agla Savera , Immortal , Slayers, Enough and Jaagdi Neend.
Watch Mandeep’s film Jaagdi Neend: Reality Decoded at the Saturday Late Matinee session, Saturday, November 19th at 4:15 PM – 6:40 PM.
Hansjeet Duggal – Filmmaker
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” and is a full-time editor in Hollywood. He also teaches in the Sikhlens Digital Voices Program which teaches filmmaking to students throughout the United States.
Watch Hansjeet’s film The 51 Percent at the Saturday Late Matinee session, Saturday, November 19th at 4:15 PM – 6:40 PM.
Indy Saini – Filmmaker
Maninder “Indy” Saini, a South Asian American director and Emmy nominated cinematographer, grew up influenced by her parents love of adventure and art. With her first passport at the age of 3, a passion for travel and the curiosity to understand different perspectives began, planting the seeds for her creative journey as a filmmaker.
Watch Indy’s film Women In The Front Seat at the Sunday’s Social Issues session, Sunday, November 20th at 4:00 PM – 7:45 PM.
A.K. Sandhu – Filmmaker
A.K. is a Director, Producer, Cinematographer, and internationally published Photographer. She is thefounder of Re–Present Partners, a womxn and BIPOC owned, Oakland-based production company that embraces the expansion of how underrepresented communities are depicted in media. A.K. tells stories that tackle the complexities of our perceived diﬀerences and inspire deeper understandings about human connections. Inspired by her father’s photographs of their family, she exited a career in ﬁnance to pursue her love for visual storytelling.
A.K. employs documentary ﬁlmmaking and photography to revive absent narratives that have been buried or suppressed. Her work crosses into experimental docu-hybrid modes of storytelling, probing themes such as race, gender, spirituality, and cross-cultural solidarity.
A.K. has been awarded the 2021 Emerging Artist Award by the State of California. She was selected as part of the inaugural cohorts for DOC NYC/VC’s 2021-2022 Storytelling Incubator and for Re-Take Oakland 2019-2021 ﬁlm fellowship for emerging BIPOC ﬁlmmakers. She is currently in development for her episodicdocumentary that reveals the neglected stories of womxn and children of the Black Panther Party and their ongoing work to redeﬁne our cultural narrative through the arts. A.K. has earned degrees from ColumbiaUniversity and U.C. Berkeley, and is an active member of A-Doc, Brown Girls Doc Maﬁa, CineFemme, and Collective of Documentary Women Cinematographers. She speaks English, Punjabi, and Hindi/Urdu.
Watch A.K.’s film Expressions of Divinity at the Saturday Late Matinee session, Saturday, November 19th at 4:15 PM – 6:40 PM.
Ojaswwee Sharma – Filmmaker
Ojaswwee Sharma is a National Award-winning film director, Producer, and Screenwriter from India. He heads the Sikhlens India Chapter and the Film Festival held in February each year, in Chandigarh. He is the recipient of ‘Rajat Kamal’, Special Jury Award, for his film ‘Admitted’ from the 15th President of the Republic of India at the 68th National Film Awards held this year by the Government of India.
In a span of a decade, Ojaswwee has worked on more than 90 films and programs, with more than 630 videos, and has been acknowledged with 20 awards and 85 Official Selections, and the recent award from the President of India, being the highest honor for a filmmaker. His films and documentaries have received international recognition at acclaimed film festivals globally. Ojaswwee has been honored by the Public Relations Council of India and recognized by the Media federation of India in 2022 for promoting and presenting the Sikhlens Arts and Film Festival in India.
Watch Ojaswwee’s film One Beat at the Saturday’s Afternoon Matinee session, Saturday, November 19th at 1:45 PM – 3:45 PM.
Harjus Singh – Filmmaker
HARJUS SINGH SETHI
Harjus Singh Sethi 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’ 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.
Kashif Alvi – Filmmaker
Kashif Alvi is a Canadian-Filmmaker who writes and directs narrative and documentary films. He has filmed in multiple countries and his films have screened at festivals around the world. He has been educated in Canada and the United States, and holds a BCom, BFA and MFA. Most recently he completed his first feature – The 51 Percent – a documentary that examines the feminist and women’s rights movement over the last 50-years. Currently, he is working on his first feature narrative film. He splits his time between Vancouver, Toronto, and Los Angeles.
Watch Kashif’s film The 51 Percent at the Saturday Late Matinee session, Saturday, November 19th at 4:15 PM – 6:40 PM.
Jaskaran Singh – Filmmaker
Jersey grown and raised, but now Toronto based, Jaskaran has been a filmmaker since he was fifteen, but it took twice that long for his parents to finally acknowledge him as such at family events. So, while a degree in Political Science and English would suggest he’s only qualified for “THE WEST WING” fanfiction, Jaskaran is actually a master of time travel epics, heartbreaking comedies, and laugh out loud dramas. He’s able to wear every hat imaginable (quite the feat when one wears a turban) to get across his distinct voice and unique outlook across multiple genres.
In the last five years, he’s written, directed, and produced multiple short films, including: “REARRANGED,” a drama boldly addressing arranged marriages for a first generation Indo-Canadian woman; “A TURBAN & A BEARD,” a docu-drama highlighting Sikh hate crimes in America in the two decades since 9/11; “EMOTIONAL DISTANCING,” a drama dealing with communicating intimacy during isolation; and “ME|HER,” a South Asian romantic dramedy about two friends reconciling their feelings after ten years.
Jaskaran recently won the 2020 Whistler Film Festival’s Power Pitch Competition with his feature script, “JERSEY BOY,” which also made The CAPE List 2021, curated by CAPE and The Black List of scripts centered on diverse Asian Pacific characters and experiences from writers Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
Watch Jaskaran’s film Coopeless at the Sunday’s Social Issues session, Sunday, November 20th at 4:00 PM – 7:45 PM.
Bhupinder Singh Bhasin – Filmmaker
BHUPINDER SINGH BHASIN
Bhupinder Singh Bhasin is a Hotelier/Property Developer, General Secretary of the Pothohar Association UK, and Trustee of the Inter Faith Youth Trust. He is a British Sikh involved with Inter Faith Dialogue, working to help the wider community understand Sikh philosophy. He founded the Sikh Spirit newsletter and website in the 1990s. He is the producer of Children of Partition: An Oral History of Pothoharis and the Rekindling Pothohar Exhibition exploring the origins of the Sikh community in the Pothohar region of West Punjab and how this community was dispersed after the Partition of India.
Watch Bhupinder’s film Children of Partition: An Oral History of Pothoharis at the Sunday’s Social Issues session, Sunday, November 20th at 4:00 PM – 7:45 PM.
Davinder Singh – Filmmaker
DAVINDER SINGH MAHUN
Davinder Singh Mahun (28) is an Indo- Canadian based director, actor and producer who has done a few projects. Waleed, What’s your Identity and Beneath the Makeup are well known projects. Waleed was awarded as a third north Indian best film.
Watch Davinder’s film Jitt De Nishan at the Saturday Late Matinee session, Saturday, November 19th at 4:15 PM – 6:40 PM.
Ishaan Singh – Filmmaker
Ishaan Singh is an aspiring filmmaker. He is based out of New Jersey and graduated from Rowan University with a Bachelor’s in Film. Most of his work is from his time in college–a documentary called Seva and the short film Loop.
Watch Ishaan’s film LOOP at the Saturday Late Matinee session, Saturday, November 19th at 4:15 PM – 6:40 PM.
Karen Dosanjh – Author
Karen Dosanjh is a Canadian-born historian and author of Untold Stories: The South Asian Pioneer Experience in BC which captures a pivotal time in our collective history. Through her extensive research on early Sikh settlers and their families, Karen documented and preserved the forgotten voices of the first wave of migrants from Punjab, India to Canada in the early 1900s. Her book chronicles the historic milestones for Sikhs in Canada and uncovers dark times such as the racial barriers they faced as they persevered to establish their families in their new homeland. Untold Stories leaves a legacy to educate and inspire future generations about the journey of the Indian diaspora and the significant contributions they made to chart a path to Canada and the US. Karen has worked tirelessly to bring Sikh-centric stories to students who greatly benefit from culturally significant content in their classrooms.
Preserving pioneer history is in her blood as Karen’s forefather Gian Singh Johal migrated to Canada in 1906 to establish her paternal family’s longstanding roots in Canada. Her husband’s paternal grandfather Narain Singh Dosanjh migrated in 1907 and grandmother, Maha Kaur Dosanjh in 1929, becoming one of the first five Sikh families to reside in New Westminster, BC.
Karen has built an esteemed reputation as a trusted professional and expert in marketing, communications & public relations throughout her 25-year career. As Vice-President, Marketing & Communications, Karen leads the global strategy for OSI Digital, a leading provider of business and technology solutions for Fortune 500 companies around the world.
Karen collaborated on producing a documentary with Sikhlens which was filmed in British Columbia, Canada. Hidden Histories: Pioneer Sikhs in Canadawill be featured at this year’s Sikhlens Arts and Film Festival.
Watch Karen’s film Hidden Histories: Pionee Sikhs in Canada at the Friday’s Red Carpet Night, Friday, November 18th at 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM.
Gurpreet Kaur Bains – Educator
GURPREET KAUR BAINS
Gurpreet Kaur Bains is the Head of Punjabi Studies at LA Matheson School in Surrey, BC and an award-winning educator with 23 years of teaching experience. She is the Languages Department Head at LA Matheson Secondary School and trained as a Science, Special Education, and Punjabi language teacher. She has actively collaborated with the Ministry of Education and the Museum of Surrey in developing South Asian curriculum and teaching resources. She has been recognized by the City of Surrey with the Mayor’s Award for fostering civic responsibility and cultivating social justice and empowerment in Surrey Youth. She is a passionate educator who firmly believes in the education of the heart and the mind. She also believes that Academic excellence can only be achieved when students are also contributing members of their communities. She has facilitated many talk shows and conversations on various platforms to help parents become more involved in their child’s learning at school. Her presentations and workshop have facilitated positive relationship building between schools and parents. Gurpreet embodies her beliefs in empowering students, engaging the community, and thinking critically about culture, all through Mentorship through Identity. Gurpreet strongly believes that collaboration between educators and community stakeholders is vital in making an impact in uplifting communities.
Bhajneet Singh – Author
Bhajneet Singh is a Sikh community activist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, actor and creative writer! Born and raised in California, Bhajneet loves playing sports, traveling, doing kirtan and being on the beach. He has devoted much of his life to mentoring Sikh youth through Gurmat Camp and is gifted at connecting kids with the teachings of Gurbani in a practical, thoughtful and relatable way. Bhajneet became a father 3 years ago to Ajeet Singh, his first little lion, who inspired him to write this book. Bhajneet lives in LA with his family and is a devoted dad of three energetic kids (Ajeet, Simer and Kirpa) as well as uncle of four (Gurdaas, Sobha, Jodh, and Bibek). He does his best writing on long flights to China. Ajeet Singh, The Invincible Lion, is Bhajneet Singh’s first children’s book which he hopes will inspire kids to be strong in the face of bullying. With Gurbani as the guide, kids can overcome any challenge with chardikala and grace.
Buy Bhaineet’s latest book The Surfing Lesson on Amazon.
Asthma Qadri – Author
DR. ASMA QADRI
Dr. Asma Qadri is an Associate Professor of Punjabi in University of the Punjab, Lahore with a teaching experience of more than two decades. She has also taught Punjabi in University of California, Santa Barbara as a Visiting Research Scholar in 2013. She has done her Post Doctorate from the University of California. Dr. Qadri has published various books in Pakistan and India. She has also published her research articles in different research journals. She has delivered lectures and talks on her work in the U.S, Canada, UK, and Pakistan. Her major work is on interfaith, Sufism and Punjabi philosophy focusing on the poetry of Baba Farid, Baba Guru Nanak, and Najm Hosain Syed. Her work on the literature and poetry of Guru Granth Sahib is very unique and thought provoking.
The Frida Cinema305 E 4th St #100, Santa Ana, CA 92701Located in the heart of Downtown Santa Ana. Parking is located behind the theater at the cross streets of E. 5th Street and N. Spurgeon Street.