The Sixth Annual SikhNet Online Youth Film Festival inspired submissions of nearly 30 inspiring films from young filmmakers all around the world.
The judging process was especially difficult this year because of the quality of the films which, in the opinion of the judging panel, is improving every year. In addition to films from first-time directors, we had new films from directors who had submitted films in previous years, and the judges agreed unanimously that every one of these young directors did a better job this year than ever before.
The panel of judges watched every film, most more than once, and marked them all on Creativity (originality,) Message (Was the film inspiring and/or uplifting? Did it communicate the filmmaker’s message clearly?) and Technical Execution (videography, editing, post production, etc.)
Although there was often a clear first place winner within a category, the race between the second and third place films was often a very close one and the judges enthusiastically debated the merits of the films in contention for those awards. This was especially true in the intermediate category, which always receives the most submissions.
Finally the judges have made their decisions!
JUNIOR DIVISION (17 years old and under)
First Place – "(Ex) Changed" by 17 year old Angad Singh from Roswell, GA, USA. This is a documentary about a Sikh boy who hosts a foreign exchange student from France. The film breaks stereotypes and the barriers of nationality and religion. Unfortunately the Sikh boy was not able to go to his hosts school in France because of the nations ban on religious headcovers. He however does visit a French memorial for all of the Sikhs that gave their lives in France during WWII.
Second Place – "Wake Walk Win"
by 17 year old twins Harnek Singh and Rasna Kaur from Troy, MI, USA. This video is a visual representation of the journey we all take as Sikhs on the path to Waheguru. It is broken up into 3 parts, each coinciding with a quote chosen from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.
Third Place – "Gurbani Makes a Difference" by ages 13-18 year olds Neha Kaur, Gurkiran Kaur, Simran Kaur, Gurneet Kaur, Jivan Kaur, Netu Kaur, Gursimran Kaur from Windsor, ON, Canada. A little girl is adopted and moves from home to home. She struggles to make friends and is constantly bullied. Her life is changed when she meets a Sikh girl who shows her kindness and acceptance as inspired by the Sikh teachings.
INTERMEDIATE DIVISION (18 – 25 years old)
First Place – "Born To Lead" by 23 year old Satdeep Singh from Ludhiana, Punjab, India. This story focuses on a common problem in the modern Sikh world. A boy cuts his hair to impress a girl who has rejected him hoping that she would now accept him. His parents are heartbroken, and he leaves them to live his new life. Meanwhile something momentous happens in his would be girl-friends life.
Second Place – "The Reunion" by 25 year olds Angad Bhai and Ethan Russell from New York, NY, USA. This drama is about 2 friends who share a common background. They have reunited after years of being apart, and one has cut his hair. Their dialogue deals with issues Sikhs face when trying to assimilate into modern socity, while maintaining their cultural and religious heritage..
Third Place – "Japji Sahib: Guru Nanak & The Kali Bein (The Black River)" by 25 year old Harimander Singh from Santa Monica, CA, USA. One day Nanak disappeared in to the black river. This was a time when he had completely merged with God. When he emerged 3 days later he recited the Japji Sahib. This film is a docu-drama style that talks about the significance of Japji Sahib.
SENIOR DIVISION (26 or older)
First Place – "Gur Bin Ghor Andhar" by Gurpreet Singh from Bangalore, Karnataka, India. Based on a true story, this is a dramatic re-enactment of a group of Sikhs fighting seva recognition and castes.
Second Place – "Summer Solstice 2011" by Elena Tchoujtchenko from Valley Village, CA, USA. Every year, thousands of people from all over the world gather together in Espanola, New Mexico, USA to practice Kundalini Yoga. The camp was founded by Yogi Bhajan who is also a Sikh leader. Sikhism is not imposed on anyone at Summer Solstice but it’s influence is found everywhere and people get educated and participate in the Sikh’s rituals and prayers. This film is beautifully captured and edited. It relives the experience of the Summer Solstice Sadhana camp.
Third Place – "Reflections" by Dr. Savi & Rohin Arora from Middlesex, UK. A personal narrative of the GT:1588 exhibition held at the Brunei Gallery, University of London, SOAS – Recording and permission granted by the Organizers of the event.
Thank you to all of the 2011 directors for your hard work and creativity!