July 2005

This week, we take a break from production, but there is no rest for Sharat and me. We flew to Montana to fundraise for the film and spent the weekend in Livingston, MT, a small eclectic town at the mouth of Yellowstone Park. Penny Ronning, who hosted screenings of our work on Friday and Saturday nights at her art gallery, House of Fine Arts, organized our visit. We showed Sharat’s award-winning short film American Made and our film trailer for Divided We Fall, which was followed

We interviewed Nitasha Sawhney, a lawyer at Burke, Williams, and Sorenson, LLP in Los Angeles, who has focused her energy on civil rights cases on behalf of Sikh Americans since 9/11, including Swaran Bhullar. As a Sikh American lawyer and activist, she spoke with great passion about her community's experiences. She feared that many Sikhs have simply become accustomed the prejudice they face daily. And she hopes that with enough education and advocacy, people may begin to recognize one another as Americans: "As long as there is a

Today, we interviewed California Assemblymember Judy Chu who pioneered a number of hate crimes legislation to protect the rights of Sikh, Arab, and Muslim communities in California since September 11, 2001. She spoke with knowledge and eloquence about how lives have changed for many minorities who now fear discrimination in their own neighborhoods. She remembers learning about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II in college as a student of Asian American Studies. Her awareness of the power of fear and hysteria in times of war

Today we sat with a group of Japanese Americans who shared their memories of the Internment during World War II. In their seventies and eighties, they exuded the warmth and wisdom of grandparents. All of them were born in the United States. The afternoon was organized by Janelle Saito, the mother my dear friend Brynn, at the United Japanese Christian Church in Clovis, California. We talked with this group for hours. At times, they drew haunting parallels to present-day America. Here are sketches of their stories. Aiko

Here is a brief introduction to the SIKH RELIGION, as per the request of our First Camera Assistant Don Presley. This is the introduction I prepared in April 2005 for the Harvard Divinity School community, where I study ethics as a graduate student. With the help of local gurdwaras and the noon service steering committee, we organized the first Sikh service in the history of Harvard Divinity to celebrate Vaisakhi, a special Sikh holiday. The service began with this introduction, which I read to the gathering (pictured): "SIKHISM is

This weekend, we are in Clovis, my hometown near Fresno in California's Central Valley. My grandfather Kehar Singh came here from Punjab, India in 1913 and farmed for decades. My father was born on this land. And so was I. My family's house is still built on the corner of the old farmland. But it looks very different now. What used to be vast farmland and orchards has now been turned into suburbs and strip malls. In just the past year, my grandfather's land has been sold

Today, we drove to San Diego to meet Swaran Bhullar, the Sikh Punjabi woman who was stabbed in her car a few weeks after September 11, 2001. She had immigrated from Kenya in order to find peace and security. After her attack, she said that she had lost that security here in America. On the way to see her, I read again my transcript of our first interview together in November 2001:SWARAN: On September 30th, coming here [to my video store] from home, I was in the left

First day of production. We took Los Angeles B-roll, images we’ll use to tell the story of the journey: driving on the road, the skyline, the traffic, the desert, and the sun setting behind the mountains. Sharat mounted the camera on the hood of the car for these shots with the help of our cinematographer Matt Blute (in the picture) and Don Presley. Don joined us as our first Assistant Camera, but he also plays the role of the second assistant camera, the film loader, the master

It is the day before production begins. Today we went to Kodak to pick up the film. Sharat and I stopped inside the office first to thank Candace, the woman who decided to give us our film stock at almost half the price. I met her for the first time and shook her hand. "This film is four years in the making. Thank you so much for making this possible." We have come this far because of people like her. People who helped us for no other reason

Here are images from the film, taken over the last few years: Vandalism at my gurdwara (Sikh house of worship) last year in Fresno, California, where I grew up. A poster for the film that features Sher Singh, the Sikh man who was arrested off a Boston-bound train on September 12, 2001, as the first suspected terrorist. Although his charges were dropped within hours, footage of his arrest played on national media outlets for three days. (Poster by Raj Dhillon) A collage of faces and places from our journey,