Oct 14, 2011, New York City: The 8th Annual Sikh Film Festival and Heritage Gala was held at Asia Society in New York City. The 2-day festival saw over 1,200 people attending this year’s Film Festival, Gala, and associated Leadership Summit.  This ever-growing support from the community validates the role that The Sikh Art and Film Foundation plays as a catalyst for the dissemination and discussion of Sikh Arts and Culture.

This year, the films ‘Canadian Soldier Sikhs’ and ‘The Ulysses’ shared the award for Best Documentary. ‘Jagjeet’ received the award for Best Short Film.

‘Canadian Soldiers Sikhs’ is director David Gray’s chronicle of ten Sikh men in the Canadian army struggling through enlistment, training, and service. ‘The Ulysses’ tells the story of 57 Punjabi Indian immigrants awaiting their fate in a shanty community they’ve built to avoid deportation by directors Alberto Garcia Ortiz and Agatha Maciaszek.   ‘Jagjeet’ is director Kanwaljit Singh’s examination of the 1984 Delhi riots’ impact on two best friends.

Chief Guest, Her Excellency Preneet Kaur, Minister of State for External Affairs, India handed out the annual Sikh Heritage Awards this year. Recipients of this year’s honors were Gurinder Chadha, Filmmaker (‘Bend It Like Beckham’, ‘It’s a Wonderful Afterlife’) for Art; Jaspal Bindra (CEO Standard Chartered Bank Asia) for Leadership; and Hon. Navtej Sarna (India’s Ambassador to Israel) for Vision. Along with the filmmakers, award recipients and Sikh Art and Film Foundation leaders, guests included the Hon. Tarlochan Singh (Former Member of Parliament and Chairman Minorities Commission India), Hon. Thomas DiNapoli (New York State Comptroller), Hon. Carol A. Robles-Roman (Deputy Mayor for Legal Affairs, NYC), Hon. Manjeev Puri (India`s Deputy Permanent Representative to UN), Hon. Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez (Commissioner of NY State), Hon. Jon Kaiman (Supervisor, Town of Hempstead), Michael Miller (CEO Jewish Community Relations Council),  and Stuart Rabinowitz (President Hofstra University).

The celebrations were held at Cipriani, 55 Wall Street, where a grand gala concluded the 8th annual Sikh Film Festival. The festivities were capped off with a performance from The Prince of Bhangra, Sukhbir, and a set from DJ Kucha that brought everyone together on the dance floor.

The Sikh International Film Festival was founded in 2003 to espouse awareness and pride in the diversity, culture and history of the Sikhs. Winning films in the categories of Best Short Film and Best Documentary are recognized with cash prizes. In addition to the cash prizes, the Sikh Arts Foundation further supports the work of filmmakers and rewards festival award-winners with fully-funded screenings and discussion panels.

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