g The Film Panel Notetaker: February 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Notes from "A Dream in Doubt" Q&A

Rana Singh Sodhi in A Dream in Doubt
Directed by Tami Yeager, U.S., 2007; 57m
Photo Credit: Tami Yeager
I just returned home from the East Coast premiere of Tami Yeager's documentary 'A Dream in Doubt' at the Walter Reader Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City. The film, which won an honorable mention in January at the Slamdance Film Festival, was followed by an onstage conversation with Yeager and the film’s subject, Rana Singh Sodhi. The screening was part of the year-round series Independents Night, a joint program of the Film Society and IFP. This film was especially poignant to me because it put into perspective a conversation I had last summer about the Sikh religion with a friend I went to graduate school with whose family comes from the Punjab region of India. The film further enlightened and educated me, and fortified my own personal quest to end prejudice and stereotypes.
About 'A Dream in Doubt':

Sodhi and his brothers escaped persecution in India to become successful gas station owners in Mesa, Arizona . In the volatile atmosphere in the United States after 9/11, their turbans and beards, expressions of their faith as Sikhs, were mistaken as identifying symbols. Balbir, Soldhi's oldest brother, became the first victim of a 9/11 revenge killing, gunned down at his station by a man who claimed he was rooting out terrorists.

Yeager’s film details Sodhi’s attempts to educate Phoenix-area residents about hate crimes as the Sikh community nationwide continued to live as misunderstood Americans. Acting as a spokesman for his family and community and guarding his own school-aged children from the bullying and harassment they continually faced, he questions how much more tragedy his family can endure and how they could achieve the American dream when they supposedly look like the enemy.
Notes from the Onstage Conversation
with Tami Yeager and Rana Singh Sodi:

Milton Tabbot of IFP moderated the conversation and began by asking Tami how she got involved with the project.

Tami replied that she had a background studying Sikhs in America and had met up with the Preetmohan Singh, who would become the film's producer. Tami understood about the hate crimes that occurred since 9/11 and learned about how Rana's brother Balbir had been killed. She followed this story on the news, but still hadn't met the Sodhis yet. When the trial of the man who killed Balbir came up, hate crimes were still happening, so she wanted to tell this story, and the way to contemporize the story was to wrap it around the trial.

Rana then mentioned that after 9/11 a lot of hate crimes occurred including to his own family. Anybody, any journalist who can educate the community will make a difference. Education is good for our country and the community.

Audience Questions:

Q: Is there a history of martyrdom in the Sikh religion?

A: Yes, but it is in the peaceful tradition of Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. It is not to achieve salvation. It's about giving up yourself for life and justice. Example of the 5th and 9th Gurus who sacrificed their lives to protect others.

Q: How are Rana's children doing in their school? (At one point in the film, Rana and his wife take their children to school and speak to their classmates to educated them about the Sikh religion so there wouldn't be any stereotypes against his children)

A: They have made so many friends since he went to their school to speak with the students.

Q: What became of the clerk who was shot and spit on? (At another point in the film, it documents other examples of hate crimes, this one in particular about a clerk who was shot and spit on and survived)

A: He's a strong person and still working in the same place.

Q: How have you come to terms with your brother's death in San Francisco? (In addition to Rana's brother being murdered in Arizona, he had another brother who was a taxi driver in San Francisco, who was also killed)

A: Haven't heard anything new, but heard about one of his brother's friends was beaten. Believes this was also a hate crime.

Q: What is the general Sikh opinion about the War in Iraq?

A: Whenever there is conflict in the Middle East, there's always an uptick in hate crimes.

Q: Do you regret moving your family to the U.S.?

A: Don't think so. Still feel proud of the community and this country.

Q: What drew the producers to this documentary?

A: It was an opportunity to enlighten and educated. There was a rich sacredness to this journey that was inspirational.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Cocaine Angel" opens at Pioneer Theater in NYC on Wednesday

Below is an email Danielle DiGiacomo of Indiepix sent me today about the theatrical opening of Michael Tully's "Cocaine Angel," which I saw at the Brooklyn Independent Cinema Series last fall. If you live in New York or will be in New York, please stop by the Pioneer Theater to see this film:

Hi all,

The excellent film COCAINE ANGEL, which comes to Indiepix.net as a DVD and download in a month's time, will start its theatrical run at TWO BOOTS tomorrow (Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007).

Indiepix.net is proud to be associated with this fine, award-winning film, and I URGE you all to take the time to come see it on the big screen!

As I am not armed with half the wit and charm of director Michael Tully, I forward on his email to friends. And after you read this, check out the excellent write-up on COCAINE ANGEL on THE REELER:

COCAINE ANGEL, will be getting an actual-factual theatrical release beginning tomorrow night (Wednesday February 21st) at the Two Boots Pioneer Theater. It's playing at 9pm every night through Tuesday February 27th.Actually, I have to confess, I'm not just writing to let you know that COCAINE ANGEL is opening tomorrow night. I'm writing to ask you to come out and see it. It would mean a lot to me and Damian, as well as everyone else who helped us out along the way.Actually, I have another confession to make. I'm not just writing you to ask you to come out and see COCAINE ANGEL. I'm BEGGING you to come out and see it. On this level, word-of-mouth is the only way tickets get sold. I wouldn't be doing this if it weren't so important. But it is. And so here I am.If you're a blogger, or websiter, or have a personal connection to any news/media outlets in New York City, please contact whoever that person might be and try to get him or her to mention the CA run. Or send an email around the office. Or sit on the lap of a stranger on the train and tell them you won't get up until they promise to go see it. There are lots of ways to spread the word. Go on. Get creative.If you do brave the elements and attend a screening, do your best to bring a friend or two (or, better yet, ten or twelve). I'm doing a post-film Q&A on Wednesday night, and hope to be there other nights, but for now, only Wednesday is definite. My plan is to head to 2A after Wednesday's show for some drinking and chatting.For those of you who have already seen the film, that's no excuse, because I can assure you that you've never seen this version. Sayonara, Elton John. Hola, Ola Podrida! It's hard to be objective about these things, but I genuinely feel that the new soundtrack is better than the temp one. It's at least closer to my own heart.For those of you who don't live anywhere near New York City and wonder why I included you on this pathetic, desperate email, perhaps you know someone who likes watching movies and might like watching this one.I'm proud of what we accomplished with COCAINE ANGEL. This weeklong run at The Pioneer is very important to us. We hope to see you there.

Thank you veryveryveryveryverrrrryverrrryyyyyyyvvvveerrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyy much.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Get your pens ready for the SXSW panel discussions

SXSW Film Festival producer Matt Dentler teases us on his blog today with some of the panel discussions that will take place this year in Austin, Texas, for the SXSW Film Festival.


If you plan to be there, and want to take notes, please let me know, and I'd be happy to post them here.

Monday, February 05, 2007

THR's Anne Thompson on the Directors Guild Meet the Nominees Panel

Read The Hollywood Reporter's Anne Thompson's Risky Biz Blog post about the Directors Guild Meet the Nominees Panel:

Independent Spirit Awards ballots

On Saturday, I went to Tribeca Cinemas to see Man Push Cart and American Gun. They were part of Film Independent's Spirit Awards screenings.

Ramin Bahrani, director of Man Push Cart, as well as its star, Ahmed Rasvi, were present after the film for a Q&A. Aric Avelino, the director of American Gun, and its screenwriter,
Steven Bagatourian, were also there after the film for a Q&A.

Man Push Cart is nominated for Best Firt Feature, Best Male Lead (Ahmed Rasvi) and Best Cinemtography (Michael Simmonds).

American Gun is nominated for Best Feature, Best Male Lead (Forest Whitaker) and Best Supporting Female (Marcia Gay Harden).

If you are a member of Film Independent or IFP, and you have received your ballot, ballots must be postmarked by February 10, 2007.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Maria the Korean Bride Film Showcase last night

Last night, I went to The Collective Unconscious, where the trailer for the documentary I Associate Produced, "NO Cross, NO Crown," was screened, along with another short film I produced called "Jack Quack: The Path." Both films directed by A.M. Peters of dinomonster films.

"NO Cross, NO Crown" is a timely and engaging feature documentary that examines whether New Orleans’ music and culture will survive the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"Jack Quack: The Path" is an animated short about a rubber ducky that keeps having weird dreams, and goes on a mission to solve the mystery.

Maria the Korean Bride Film Showcase (curated by Aimee Dixon)

The films and filmmakers featured were:

"Maria the Korean Bride-Why Marriage?" by Maria Yoon

"The Menace" by William Sutphin

"NO Cross, NO Crown" (trailer) by A.M. Peters

"Jack Quack" by A.M. Peters

"The Ticketmaster" by Arthur Banton

"Vivian: a Period Piece" by Aimee Dixon

"The Revolving Door" by Aimee Dixon

A filmmaker Q&A proceeded the screenings. Present were Maria Yoon, Aimee Dixon, Amy Peters and Arthur Banton.