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
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. Harjus Singh and Hansjeet Duggal, both Dodge Film School graduates, who have been involved in many of the “Destination S” films, along with Ojaswwee Sharman, Salman Alam Khan, Agam Darshi, Farhan Shah, Jaskaran Singh, Manpreet Dhillon, Indy Saini, and A.K. Sandhu, will discuss their film experiences. Several writers will discuss creativity in their respective careers. and at 3:30 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 theater is located at:
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.
Agam Darshi – Filmmaker
Agam Darshi is an international award winning actress and filmmaker, having worked alongside Oscar nominated director Deepa Mehta, and Emmy winner Ava Duvernay.
Agam Darshi’s directorial debut DONKEYHEAD, which Agam wrote and starred in was financed by Telefilm Canada, Creative Saskatchewan, SaskTel Max Equity, Canada Media Fund, BC, and Federal tax credits and distributed by Level Film. Donkeyhead was acquired by Array Now and released on Netflix in January 2022 in USA/UK/AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND. It was the opening film at MISAFF where it won Best Feature Film Award, Best Support Actor and Best editing, and won best direction at the Vancouver Women’s International Film Festival in 2022. It has recently been nominated for 11 Leo awards and won for Best lead actress and best screenplay for Agam. Agam also won best director at 43rd Durban International Film Festival.
In 2018 DONKEYHEAD was one of only six scripts accepted into the WHISTLER FILM FESTIVAL’S PRAXIS SCREENWRITING LAB and was awarded a grant by the Saint John’s Women’s Film Festival, in collaboration with the DGC.
Agam is a recipient of the illustrious Film Independent Project Involve 2020 Fellowship as a writer and the cofounder of VISAFF: The Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival which is currently in its 12th year.
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.
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.
Salman Alam Khan – Filmmaker
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 films “Going Home” and “Knitted Beliefs” premiered at Sikhlens Arts and Film Festivals.
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.
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.
Ojaswwee Sharma – Filmmaker
Ojaswwee 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.
Ojaswwee’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
Harjus Singh – Filmmaker
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.
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.
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.
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.