There are two cool film events this weekend that spice up the old American melting pot.
Starting things off with red-carpet arrivals this evening is the three-day Sikh Arts and Film Festival (SAFF) at Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in Orange. Meanwhile, Lil Tokyo Reporter, a film making its premiere Saturday and Sunday in Huntington Beach, tells the story of an early 1900s Japanese American hero—in an event to save a historic Japanese American site in Surf City.
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Live entertainment, dancing, dining and Sikh artwork, books and short films will be on view to launch the 2013 SikhPoint Calendar. Folks are scheduled to start arriving at Dodge's Marion Knott Studios at 7:45 this evening.
Sikhlens hopes to showcase the work of Sikh artists and expose others to Sikh culture with:
Leaving Our Mark, which documents the nation's oldest Sikh American advocacy group, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, whose mission is to protect the civil rights of Sikh Americans and ensure a welcoming environment in the U.S. for future generations.
Sikh Formaggio, the story of a Sikh cheese-making community in Northern Italy that emerged during the time Italians were failing to continue the craft of Parmesan cheese.
I Run While Talking To God, a video profile of 101-year-old Fauja Singh, the world's oldest marathon runner, who carried the 2012 Olympic torch through London.
The Sikh Twins, which follows world-class graphic artists and filmmakers Rabindra and Amrit Singh, identical twins who have turned the British art establishment upside down.
Breaking the Silence, which chronicles fifth grader Raj Singh Sawhney and his team winning the Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision competition with their design to use recently developed nano-fibers—thinner than human hair—to transmit electronic signals from the cochlea of deaf people directly to the appropriate nerves leading to the brain that would allow many deaf people to gain their hearing.
The festival also includes recognition of two Dodge students who received the Sikhlens SAFF Logistics Scholarship, originated to increase the quality of film submissions. The students and films are: Kristelle Laroche for Guru Express, which follows a train returning a copy of a sacred scripture, which had been kept at various Gurdwaras in Nairobi and Kericho for the last three decades, to its rightful abode at Makindu Sikh Gurdwara; and Mor Albalak with Papal Knighthood of Bhai Mohinder Singh, which documents Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia, who was knighted by the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI in recognition of his dedicated work for Roman Catholic/Sikh relations and for his enthusiastic commitment to working for peace among people of all faiths.
Dodge College students are also helping to edit and disseminate a video public service announcement made possible through a grant provided by Nirinjan Singh Khalsa, executive director of the California Sikh Council. Violence against Sikhs and wearers of turbans and beards has significantly increased in the U.S. since 9/11, so the PSA aims to briefly impart critical information about Sikhs and their culture to educate the public. Matthew Blake, Casey Acaster and Nathan Mills are students involved in the project.
Saturday and Sunday events includes special film clusters, programs focusing on igniting passion, discussion and new art ideas, a youth-focused film and book panel of Sikh artists telling their stories and exhibiting their talents, a "Creative Sikhs" spotlight, and a panel focused on the discussion of social issues affecting the Sikh community. For details on tickets or anything else, visit www.sikhlens.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 714.253.4723.
The Orange County premiere of Lil Toyko Reporter is across the county at Regency Charter Centre Cinemas on Warner Avenue in Huntington Beach.
Fumiko Carole Fujita, a founding member of the Little Tokyo Historical Society, has said of the main character in the historical drama, "Sei Fujii lived spectacularly and died spectacularly. It's like an opera."
He arrived in the U.S. in 1903, earned his law degree from USC in 1911 and went on to fight for Japanese farmers here. When he was forbidden from practicing law because he was a non-citizen, Fujii started the newspaper Kashu Mainichi to educate the Japanese community. The movie depicts gambling, stabbings, shootings, two scandalous love affairs, Supreme Court battles, internment and a dramatic death.
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The farmers Fujii fought for—he was known to meet with some at a specific Orange County hotel—worked fields in places like Wintersburg at the north end of Huntington Beach. Local Japanese Americans consider the site historic and they are battling to save it from looming demolition. Fujii is back to the rescue—or at least the film on his amazing life is—as proceeds from this weekend's screenings go toward saving historic Wintersburg.
There's also a benefit from 8-10 p.m. Saturday at the Waterfront Hilton, where the suggested donation is $20. Lil Tokyo Reporter cast and crew members are scheduled to attend, according to Huntington Beach resident Mary Urashima, who has written extensively about saving Wintersburg on her blog at: http://historicwintersburg.