Spinning Wheel in Toronto

Since finishing production at the end of August, the team has been slaving away in the editing room in Los Angeles. Director Sharat Raju is co-editing the film with Scott Rosenblatt. Sheepishly, I had to return to school in Boston (for my masters program at Harvard Divinity), but I’ve been flying back to LA almost every weekend to witness their amazing post-production speed to meet our first deadline: this weekend. The dynamic-duo worked around the clock for four weeks in order to turn 130 hours of footage into a 2-hour rough cut.

This weekend, we premiered our rough cut before a live audience at Toronto’s Spinning Wheel Film Festival, featuring Sikh films and filmmakers from around the world. The Spinning Wheel Film Festival holds a very special place in the history of our film.

In October 2003, at the first-ever Spinning Wheel, both Sharat Raju and I attended to present our respective works. I showed a half-an-hour cut of raw interviews from my journey across the country after 9/11. He showed his award-winning short film, American Made, which told the fiction-version of the real stories I gathered on the road. (On the right is a scene from the movie. The dvd is for sale on the site.)

In Sharat’s film, I saw his talent as a filmmaker and storyteller: he was able to capture the heart of complex human experiences and weave them into a story that moved his audiences to tears. In my raw interviews, Sharat saw stories that hadn’t been told before and recognized the potential for a powerful feature-length documentary film. This is how we joined forces.

Two years later, Spinning Wheel invited us back to showcase our work so far. Our rough cut was to premier on Closing Night, and my parents came all the way from California to support us. So did my brother Sanjeev Brar, who surprised me by showing up when I least expected it.

The weekend was filled with deeply moving films and conversations with old and new friends alike (pictured). Our Dir of Comm. Tracy Wells wrote a moving account of her experience encountering the complexity, violence, and beauty of the Sikh experience.

Finally, our rough cut premiered on the big screen. I was nervous. Very nervous. It’s hard enough to show the first draft of an essay to other people, and here we were showing the first draft of a film to hundreds of people on the big screen! To my surprise, the rough cut was very well-received. People flooded us with praise and feedback afterward, and we returned home with pages of notes to help us with the second cut, scheduled for early December.

I want to thank everyone at Spinning Wheel for making this dream come true. It’s been a long and lonely journey, but Spinning Wheel’s support has pushed the development of this project into what it is now. The finish line is in sight, but we still have a lot of work ahead.

Can you offer us your support– financial, emotional, spiritual? Contact us.