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SikhNet is delighted to report that American Sikh by Vishavjit Singh and Ryan Westra will showcase on June 10th, 2023, at the Tribeca Festival; renowned for its prestige as being highly influential and respected in the world of film making. 

 

This incredibly innovative and thought-provoking animation will make its world premiere on Saturday, June 10th, 2023, at 5:15pm, curated and hosted by Whoopi Goldberg.  There will be two additional public screenings on June 11th and 17th.  On a very encouraging update American Sikh has sold out all screenings in a matter of seconds after them going on sale on May 2nd. 

This movie was several years in the making, with over 600 contributors, the animated film American Sikh is the first of its kind highlighting the Sikh presence in America.  The Tribeca Festival originated as an artistic response to the terror and trauma of the 9/11/2001 attacks on the World Trade Center twin towers. 

American Sikh

American Sikh chronicles the true-life story of Vishavjit Singh, an American born Sikh who, at age 12, witnesses, and narrowly escapes, the 1984 Sikh genocide in Punjab. Upon returning to the United States, teenage Visvajit questions his identity. Is he Sikh? Is he American? He attempts to fit in and become invisible by removing his turban, cutting his hair and shaving his beard. But in doing so he loses touch with who he is completely. Ten years pass, but he comes no closer to finding himself. Deciding to embrace his Sikh identity, Vishavjit Singh reconciles with his true self in 2001, but the events of 9/11 immediately put him in the spotlight as a target for hate. Viashavjit decides to fight back, launches Sikhtoons, and takes up the persona of Captain America with Sikh superpowers. This act ultimately leads to the English language film. 

The film is a response to the backlash of America at Muslims, and anyone who might be mistaken for them, following 9/11. The film’s creator Vishavjit Singh, chose a creative and loving response to dispel the ignorance that fueled hate. Donning a Captain America costume complete with shield, Vishavjit, a thin Sikh man, adorned with eyeglasses, a turban, and a long beard, took to the streets to challenge the American superhero stereotype. His conversations with curious spectators opened channels of communication while busting through barriers of social conditioning that categorize and separate people. American Sikh animates this unusual story of a Sikh using a costume and superpowers to overcome prejudice. 

When asked about the challenges faced within the process Vishavjit recounted "One of the most intriguing parts in the filmmaking process was telling a life story in under 10 minutes. Ryan extracted key inflection points in my life skillfully to create an animated biography. Raising funds to bring this film to the screen was both a nerve wracking and exhilarating experience at the same time. In the end we got 600 backers to help make this film a reality. After 4 years of countless hours it is a thrill to see this animation get ready for its big screen premiere right in my hometown of New York City which has been witness to profound transformations in my life journey."

International Story Telling Team 

The aim of this team is the transforming of frustration, anger, hatred, bigotry, and fear through the power of storytelling via the film. 

American born Vishavjit Singh of New York City, New York USA, a survivor of Sikh genocide and the continual target of bias, is the creator of Sikhtoons.com.  In June 2013, He began courageously battling intolerance by walking the streets wearing his Captain America Sikh costume, complete with turban, and bull’s eye shield, while using his superpower passion *compassion* to challenge bigotry, retrain the brain, and change the world, one person at a time. Vishavajit Singh’s community outreach includes using his superpower *story telling* to getting kids to imagine themselves as superheroes, identify their own superpower, such as *kindness*, and what they would like to change using it.

Ryan Westra of Los Angeles, California USA is an international cinematographer and director of both Commercial Content and Documentaries. His passion is uncovering truth by filming and documenting untold stories. He traveled Punjab documenting the telling of stories involving Sikh Genocide. He documented AIDS outreach in Mozambique Africa, and filmed indigenous Americans verses Big Oil in Montana USA and rehousing the homeless in Los Angeles California USA. He has edited and assisted HBO features on human reproductive rights, wrongful convictions, and exposing cult leaders. 

Studio Showoff of Brunswick, an inner-city suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, in Australia is founded by Ivan Dixon and Sean Zwan. Both are dedicated story tellers through cartoon media, between the two of them, they have worked with ABC, BBC, HBO, TWITCH, Cartoon Network, Disney, Nickelodeon, and Warner Bros.

Sukhmandir Kaur Khalsa

Sukhmandir Kaur Khalsa

Sukhmandir has written hundreds of articles on topics related to Sikhism and has co-written and and edited several books on the Gurmat teachings and Naam Simran meditation. 

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