February 21, 2021 3:09:09 am
“DUE to the pandemic, all our festivals have been virtual, and I am very happy and excited that Sikhlens – Sikh Arts and Film Festival 2021 India Chapter is all set to take place in Chandigarh in a physical format, our first in 12 months,” shares Bicky Singh, who founded the festival 13 years back in California, and travelled with it for the first time to India, with the festival opening in Chandigarh today.
Singh began organising the festival with an intent to share Sikh heritage and culture with the rest of the world, by creating awareness about the work that focuses on the community.
“Sikhlens seeks work from people in a variety of fields — films, books, music and art and gives a platform to the artists to share this work with the world, get exposure and create awareness about Sikhs,” says Singh, adding that the ‘Destination S’ program of Sikhlens provides funding and scholarship programmes to filmmakers both Sikh and non-Sikh, whose projects aim to bring inspiring stories about Sikh history and heritage and initiate conversation on race, harmony, justice, and spirituality.
This year, at the festival– which will be held at Tagore Theatre, from 11 am to 8 pm– entry will be free and 24 films from eight countries will be screened.
The second edition of the annual film festival will include Sikh-centric documentaries, short films, a children’s segment, including three world premieres, art exhibition, book launch, poetry, talks and discussions.
Chandigarh-based filmmaker Ojaswwee Sharma of Rolling Frames Entertainment, has been leading the India chapter of the festival and four of his films will also be screened here, which is supported by the Chandigarh Administration and Department of Culture Affairs, UT.
“Through the festival, we hope to promote art, culture and heritage and give the city’s audience to view some off-beat cinema,” says Sharma.
Apart from the world premiere of three films — Art Finds Its Way, Kites: Beyond Boundaries, Silver Lining: The Journey of Rashpal Singh, many artists who have undertaken commendable work in representing Sikhism or aspects of the faith and values of Sikhi, having achieved extraordinary milestones to inspire the upcoming generations with their work will also be given commendations.
The festival this year also includes a book launch and poetry session to spread the message of inclusivity, diversity and togetherness.
‘Sikhs Serving Humanity’, by Sikhlens focuses on how Sikhs internationally have been spreading the Guru’s ideals of langar and serving local communities by the hundreds of thousands.
In this session, 11 Sikh organisations from all over the world, who are trying to do their part to help alleviate the global issue of hunger caused by the pandemic, will share their stories.
Among works to be screened at the festival, Traasdi Rooh (Punjabi) by Amandeep Singh, highlights the breathtaking beauty of the landscape and architecture by exploring the abandoned spiritual sites in remote areas of Pakistan; while Salman Alam Khan’s ‘Knitted Beliefs’, is a tapestry of harmony in Narayanpura, a neighbourhood in Karachi, where Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs live together in one of the largest multi-ethnic communities in Pakistan; and, Art Finds Its Way by Ojaswee Sharma charts the life of Aman Singh Gulati, now widely known as Almond Singh, a 19-year-old micro-painter who holds the Guinness World Record for making the largest drawing by an individual, and for portraits on almonds.
From a small town in Uttar Pradesh, the protagonist struggled to learn art, as well as obtain support from his family. In a small space, he honed the talent that has gained him World Records. Many of his notable almond pieces portray the essence of Sikhism and also holds the credit for making the biggest puzzle art of Guru Gobind Singh.
His future endeavours include to bring the Sikh tenets alive with the Life Travels of Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Tegh Bahadur in his micro engravings on almonds.
For the six-and-a-half years the Sikhlens Digital Voice Program and the Sri Hemkunt Foundation have trained Sikh children in film-making at the gurdwaras of California, and around the world.
These workshops train over 1,000 children, from ages six onwards and have resulted in the production of over 125 shorts films. Some of these films will be screened as part of the children’s section.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines