15-year-old Indian American Amrita Kaur Bhasin’s Winning Film on Environment has Message for All

Undeniably, the Sikh community is known for unconditional service to the mankind. The Sikh do always come forward to help those in need. In 2015, a group of Punjabi NRIs extended the community kitchen service beyond temple premises to provide around 14000 refugees with daily food in the conflict-torn regions of Syria.

Their interest is not limited to serving the needy and the hungry. They also care about the environment, the planet and Mother Nature. It is evident from the submission of thought-provoking films on the future of earth and environment by young Sikh filmmakers to the SikhNet Youth Online Film Festival 2016.

‘Mother Earth – Mata Dharat’ was this year’s theme of the SikhNet Youth Online Film Festival, an exclusively digital media based platform for young filmmakers from the Sikh community worldwide. It is also a launch pad for filmmaking aspirants having potential. Initiated in 2006, it has turned many promising young directors’ lenses to socio-economic issues, socio-political affairs, humanitarianism and likes.

Young Sikh filmmakers from India, the United States and Kenya submitted their films on nature and environment to the 11th annual Youth Online Film Festival. Sixteen films were divided into three groups: Juniors (11-17 age group), Intermediate (18-28 age group) and Senior (aging above 28). Out of the 16 submissions, five films became winners of the festival.

The five films shortlisted for cash prize and certificate are Sangraand, Selfless Shade, and Bute da Prasad in the Intermediate group, Paani Pita in the Junior category, and The 5 R’s of Eco-Sikhism in the Senior category. Each of these winning films highlights various environmental issues that threat the existence of life on earth, and focuses on possible solutions to protect environment.

sikhnet youth film festival, films on environment, young Indian filmmakers, documentaries, Indian Americans

The boy on a trip to India from USA in Amrita Kaur Bhasin’s film ‘Paani Pita’

15-year-old Amrita Kaur Bhasin is the only Sikh filmmaker from the Indian American community to have won the winning title for her film Paani Pita in the 2016 SikhNet Youth Online Film Festival. This young Indian American girl from California drew on the festival theme through the story of young boy’s travel from USA to India in order to learn about environmental issues in his community.

The protagonist in Amrita Kaur Bhasin’s film Paani Pita learns about the impact of environmental issues in USA. Then he makes a trip to India for the same purpose. Over time, the boy concludes that environment pollution is common between both nations, USA and India, and accepts that preserving environment to protect earth is also his responsibility. Thus the film spreads the message that it is every individual’s responsibility to care for environment, earth and nature.

I drew ideas for this movie from my last trip to India. In addition, everybody in my community has been making an effort to conserve water because of the California drought. I wanted to make a movie that combined local issues with greater issues. – Amrita Kaur Bhasin

The three winning films in the Intermediate section of the 11th annual SikhNet Youth Online Film Festival are from the Indian state of Punjab. 24-year-old Sukhmanjot Singh’s Sangraand, 21-year-old Junwar Raj Singh’s Bute Da Prasad, and Selfless Shade by Raj Angad and Hardeep Singh voice more or less the same message about environment preservation through different stories.

The 5 R’s of Eco-Sikhism by Dilraj Singh, Bhavanraj Singh and Jaskirat Kaur from Nairobi in Kenya is the only winning film on this theme in the Senior section of the film festival this year. This short documentary film highlights five secrets of environment preservation: Reuse, Recycle, Reduce, Restore and Respect.

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