We spent this afternoon with the AKHTER family, a Muslim American family in Gilroy, California, who I first visited in October 2001. I remember eight-year old SAMIR (pictured) the most: "The kids call me bin Laden’s son, and all of their friends were putting their lunch pails on my face like this, and they called me bin Laden’s face. They smashed lunch pails on my face so that I couldn’t breathe. I said no, I’m not the bad guy, and I don’t want to be a bad guy.
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
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
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