Komagata Maru Story Wins Awards at Film Festival

Canadian film "Lions of the Sea" by Jessi Thind has picked up a prestigious Indian honour, winning Best Featur...

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Komagata Maru Story 'Lions of the Sea' Wins Several Prestigious Awards
Calcutta Press/October 21, 2017

Just in time for film festival season, the Canadian film "Lions of the Sea" written by Jessi Thind based on his novel published in 1998 has picked up a prestigious Indian honour, winning Best Feature Script at the Calcutta International Film Festival.

CALCUTTA - Just in time for film festival season, the Canadian film "Lions of the Sea" written by Jessi Thind based on his novel published in 1998 has picked up a prestigious Indian honour, winning Best Feature Script at the Calcutta International Film Festival.

"I’ve been working on this project for twenty years and it’s great that world-wide audiences are suddenly recognizing the importance of the Komagata Maru event and the multiple perspectives I have used to tell the story in the film,” Jessi Thind, the film’s writer said when he found out about the award. “I am amazed and delighted especially at the unbelievable response from producers and distributors interested in the emotional impact of the story.”

"Lions of the Sea" began pre-production in 2003, but was stalled due to production set-backs. Thind has stated he had to wait to resume the adaptation of his novel in 2010 as he considered several co-production deals. “There has been interest from several production companies and now these awards are opening doors and making things happen fast.”

"Lions of the Sea" is set in 1914, against the backdrop of World War One, and tells the story of Edward Bird, the lawyer who represented the passengers of the Komagata Maru as well as Munshi Singh, the passenger used as a test case for the passengers.

"Lions of the Sea" has taken over 20 awards in the festival circuit including Best Feature Script at the TMC London Film Festival, Feel the Reel, the Tribal Film Festival, Views of the World Film Festival, and the Calcutta Film Festival. Lions of the Sea has also been a finalist at the Toronto Nollywood Film Festival, the LA Film Festival, the California Film Festival and the Frame by Sound Film Festival. It is currently in consideration at a dozen other festivals including Cannes.

"Lions of the Sea" is an absolutely incredible work of art,” Taran Singh, an editor and film reviewer, said. “It is a story that illustrates that in spite of having different skin tones, having different beliefs, or coming from different cultural backgrounds, there are more things in common to focus on than there are differences.”

“Many give lip-service to the fact that the Nazis were evil and that doors should have been opened for the Jewish refugees aboard the St. Louis,” Sam Khan, a film distributer and judge at the Nalanda Film Festival said. “But will those same people make the right choice, the compassionate choice, the human choice when refugees come knocking at their door and history is suddenly in their hands? That is the important and powerful question raised by Lions of the Sea the one I found so urgent and compelling.”

“I can say without a doubt that Thind managed to take an already good story with high movie potential and bring it few steps further,” Antonio Rozich, writer and film critic, reviewed in Cult Critic magazine. “Instead of being just another mediocre presentation of something that happened, Thind added emotions and opinions that go far beyond just the story of the Komagata Maru. Thind added a message which doesn’t feel like it was put there by force, nor does it feel like a cliché. It’s simply a message worth spreading amongst people.”

This week represents something of an international tour for the writer and Lions of the Sea is still gathering awards. “It’s a lot of work,” Thind said with a smile. “But I don’t think of it. I’m just happy the Komagata Maru is getting the attention of world-wide audiences.”

Thind recently allowed the title of his novel to be used by several historical exhibits in Canada and India, and is working on a pilot television series also based on his novel.

Contact: B. Lowell / [email protected]


Script written by Jessi Thind | Review by Antonio Rozich

You know a script for a feature film is good if it reads like a novel. This sentence is a short technical review of the script for the film ‘Lions of the Sea’ by Jessi Thind. At every point of the script where the story takes place, the characters are easily remembered, and dialogs are effectively delivered. What’s even more important, there is no ‘extra fat’ to the script. Each scene serves the purpose of moving the story forward and as the script has more than one sub story, you can safely presume this isn’t an easy task, but Thind pulled it off.

KomaOnBoard (320K)

Now, let’s get to the more important stuff, the story itself. ‘Lions of the Sea’ is based on a real-life event that took place in the year 1914. In 1914 the Japanese steamship Komagata Maru sailed from Hong Kong, China to Vancouver, Canada. What was this particular ship carrying you might wonder? People. People from The British Raj, who were in search for a better life across the sea. As back then both Canada and India were under the rule of the British Empire, all people on the ship were British subjects promised free land to work on in Canada.

Without spoiling anything and by giving you a quick history lesson, Lions of the Sea is about two groups of people. It is about the people who were on the ship and were in search of a better life and about the citizens of Vancouver, Canada who had mixed opinion of Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus found on the ship entering Canada. You can already presume what’s the initial drive of the story is. Isn’t it intriguing how more than often history gives us stories which we can easily relate to the present?

Indeed, Jessi Thind the script writer surely knows this, which is probably one of the reasons why he decided to turn the Komagata Maru incident into a feature film script. Thind also decided to include a decent number of characters in the script, most of them being real people who, were involved in this incident – from H.H. Stevens, who was a Canadian politician and a heavy opponent of the Asian Immigration to Gurdit Singh who played a vital role as one of the passengers.....

Now it’s all up to the right people to realize the potential of this story and deliver* it in its full visual glory. The rest as we all know will be the history on which the stories are created.


“We are excited to announce this production will commence in 2017 as we celebrate Canada, its diversity as well as its 150th anniversary. This film will be co-produced by Vinay Virmani and Pauline Dhillon,” says Dr. Ajay Virmani of First Take Entertainment.” ...............Source

TheFilm (206K)


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