|Dear Friends and Family,|
Welcome to our Year-in-Review for Divided We Fall! After a long pregnant silence, we take one deep breath and spill all the highlights from our year. Skim, wander, digest at will! We're thrilled to have you with us for the ride...
We spent the year living out of our suitcases, traveling the country with the film, opening up spaces for brave new dialogue in small towns and big cities alike. Since our premiere last September, we've been to more than fifty cities in five countries, won nearly a dozen awards, were featured on CNN, NPR, and the BBC, and now we're adding a second year to the tour. It's been a breath-taking journey. For a video re-cap, check out our new trailer!Everywhere we went this year - from California to New York, Minnesota to Texas, Oregon to South Carolina - we heard remarkable stories from our audiences. People saw their own lives in our film, shared their hopes and doubts with us and one another, and left the theater a little changed. We are humbled to witness it all. And we have gained deep insight into what we all share in common - a longing to be seen for how we see ourselves and to live in a world better than the one we have. No matter how divided it seems we are, our stories capture our shared human experience. Stories can save us. And ours has flourished solely because of you. Your word-of-mouth is the single reason Divided We Fall has now been seen by tens of thousandsof people and counting. We invite you to read some of the amazing stories from our audiences. Just click on the map above. (States we have visited are in orange.)When we weren't on the road with the movie, we both kept busy. Valarie graduated with her master's degree from Harvard Divinity School and headed west until she hit the ocean - and there she stayed. (At left: Valarie and her mother on graduation day). She now lives and writes by the sea between travels on the tour. In the mean time, Sharat joined ABC as a Directing Fellow (picture below) and spent his time on television sets -- that is, before the strike. Both of us look forward to the new year...Our packed film tour will continue in 2008, and we plan to release our movie starting in the fall, complete with an educational curriculum. Your continued support through word-of-mouth makes a real difference. (We're now on Facebook and MySpace and would love to add new cities to our tour - contact communications director Tracy Wells (firstname.lastname@example.org) to arrange a screeing in your city). And if you can make a donation, every penny goes toward getting the film to wider audiences and completing our curriculum. For all donations of $50 or more, we will send you the film as a thank-you gift upon its release on DVD: http://www.dwf-film.com/donate.html Thank you again for being part of the whirlwind. We wish you warmth, laughter, chocolate, and hope in the New Year! We will be back in 2008 with monthly newsletters, thanks to our superstar communications director Tracy Wells. In the mean time, here it is, yourYear-In-Review!Valarie Kaur and Sharat RajuProducers of Divided We Fall
|A brief overview of all our screenings in 2007. Our favorite ones are in red. |
Click the headers of the screenings to read stories and reflections from people who were there.
How's this for starting the new year off with a bang? Just four months after Divided We Fall's world premiere in Arizona in September 2006, the BBC called, wanting to interview Valarie about the film. Click here to listen (mp3, 5.9 MB), here to read a transcript.
Fayerweather Street School (Cambridge, MA)
Our first-ever junior high school audience, the students at Fayerweather rendered us speechless with their insight, wisdom, and dedication to social justice. If these children are our future, the future is bright. Thanks to the Diversity Committee and our guardian angel Valerie Courville.
Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA)
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Valarie's professor and mentor Linda Hess tells her to enter the whirlwind, sending her across the country with her camera. More than five years later, Valarie returns to her college with a feature film. And Linda hosts the screening. It was perfect.
University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
Our most high-energy audience yet, Cal students overwhelmed the auditorium, filling the aisles, to watch and discuss the film. (Below: a student asks a question during Q&A.) Thanks to our friend, older brother, and oh yes, Professor of American Studies Jaideep Singh!
|San Joaquin Delta College (Stockton, CA)
Ushers in suits show college students their plush red seats in one of our most elegant screenings yet. The dialogue is nothing short of courageous, thanks to our hosts the Gay-Straight Alliance and Vicki Marie. And someone in the audience was enjoying the Q&A so much that they videotaped it and posted it on YouTube!
Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH)
On a snowy winter day, we screen in the auditorium where Martin Luther King once spoke and lead a series of rich discussions in different parts of the university. Thank you Nora Yasumura!
University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)
One thousand people fill the auditorium, making it our grandest screening yet! The next day, we launch dialogue workshops at UConn (post-workshop discussion pictured below, bottom) that we now take around the country. And we have a very fun interview on UConn student radio. All thanks to Angela Rola.
Yale University (New Haven, CT)
Hosted by the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU), we screen in an ancient hall to a great crowd and lead workshops the next day, thanks to Saveena Dhall and ECAASU.
Seattle Human Rights Film Festival (Seattle, WA)
are the opening night film! We are honored to kick off a festival
sponsored by Amnesty International, Hate Free Zone Seattle and Gurdwara
Singh Sabha of Washington.
Hastings College (Hastings, NE)
our Nebraska premiere, more than 200 people give us a standing ovation
(pictured below, bottom) at a school of only 2000. The next day,
Valarie opens up dialogue in classrooms (below, top) and discovers
diversity in the Midwest. Chaplain David McCarthy, thank you for an
Church of the Holy Spirit (Bellevue, NE)
by Father Bob Scott (below, middle), Valarie gives her first guest sermon at this
Episcopal Church! She shares Balbir Sodhi's story as part of their
Wednesday night Lenten study series
and is moved to tears by the warmth and love of this Christian
community. All thanks to our communications director, Tracy Wells (below, left).
|Omaha Film Festival (Omaha, NE)
Our communications director Tracy Wells fills the house with fellow Omaha residents. And we receive a glowing review as "a deeply moving personal favorite" in the Omaha World Herald!
Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA)
plates of dinner on their knees, Wellesley students gather for an
intimate screening and discussion as part of Asian American Month. Special thanks to Nan Chen.
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)
returns to his alma mater to show the film in his old Psych 111
auditorium! Special thanks to Amrik Singh of the Sikh Student
Association and the gang (pictured below, left) who treated us to a
University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana (Champaign-Urbana, IL)
to be outdone by Yale, the Midwest Asian American Student Union (MAASU)
brings us to the plains to close their annual conference.
Harvard Law School (Cambridge, MA)
by the ACLU, Harvard students gather in a law school classroom to eat
pizza and talk about the movie, all thanks to second-year law student
|Macalester College (St. Paul, MN)
An amazing week in snowy Minnesota: a full house, standing ovation, classroom discussions, plus a superb piece on Minnesota Public Radio (MPR).
Unending gratitude for Tommy Woon, Dean of Multicultural Life who also
stars on the film's dialogue team and as Valarie's life coach!
University of North Carolina, Charlotte (Charlotte, NC)
small intimate screening kicks off our Southern tour, and associate
producers Dolly and Judge Brar (also Valarie's parents) join
us! Special thanks to passionate UNC student Tavleen Kaur.
University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC)
South Carolina premiere is communications director Tracy Wells'
hometown screening, and the audience gives us a standing ovation! We are honored by the first Sikh woman State Rep in South Carolina, Nikki Haley.
The screening is co-sponsored by Partners
in Dialogue, a community interfaith organization. Special thanks to
Carl Evans for coordinating the screening and inviting us to
his class (pictured below). And thanks to Tracy's family for all their support!
Auburn University (Auburn, AL)
Alabama Premiere is an intimate screening hosted by the Auburn Asian
Association. Thanks to Gayatri Nayak and friends for a great night and
ReelWorld Film Festival, Toronto (Toronto, Canada)
We win Best International Documentary!
Valarie and Sharat give their first acceptance speech at a classy award
ceremony (pictured below), just a day after Valarie accepts the Seva Award for service from Canada's Sikh Centennial Foundation.
Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
Our hometown premiere sells out a theater at the Arclight and earns us Audience Choice for Best Documentary! Our superstar crew joins us: Eric Santiestevan, Don Presley, Nitasha Sawhney,Derek Kroeger, Tim Forest, Rich Hilary, Tom Halloran, Bernd Linhart, Frank Sarco, Anup Sungunan, Matthew Shapiro, Chris Farah, Kathy Jennings, and Judge and Dolly Brar - phew! DesiYou interviews the filmmakers on the red carpet outside the theater. And to top it all off, CNN features our film on the Paula Zahn Show!
Shrewsbury Public Library (Shrewsbury, MA)
to Saran and Navjeet Singh, we have a nice small gathering at a
community library with local Sikh families and neighbors to view and
talk about the movie.
|University of Delaware (Newark, DE)
Delaware premiere is a success, complete with cupcakes for the
filmmakers! Thank you Director of Multicultural Programs Kasandra Moye
and her staff.
Swampscott High School (Swampscott, MA)
highlight on our tour, this is the first-ever screening organized
entirely by high school students! Eleventh graders in an American
Studies class (pictured below) at
Swampscott High School share the film with their school and community
in a former synagogue. The students are earnest and open, the energy
high, the emotion deep. Thank you Marisa Jackson-Hedges, Holly Tatum,
and students. (Marisa has joined our dialogue team!)
Yuba City Punjabi American Festival (Yuba City, CA)
a colorful fair with Punjabi food and Bhangra. Inside, our movie on
the big screen! In the city with the oldest largest Sikh community in
America, the Punjabi American Heritage Society hosts the film and
presents Valarie with the Service Award. Thank you Dr. Jasbir Kang.
Clovis Unified School District (Clovis, CA)
returns home! City hall gives her the keys to Clovis (not literally,
but nearly). Our most celebrated and emotional stop on the tour, our
Clovis premiere fills the audience with former teachers, friends, and
family - including our film stars: Peg Bos, Saburo and Marion Masada,
Toshi and Bob Sakai, Aiko and Tom Uyeoka, Valarie's parents Judge and
Dolly Brar and grandfather Captain Gurdial Singh.
We accept official
commendation from the city of Clovis, and even before the standing
ovation, Valarie is in tears with gratitude. Thank you Carole and Jon
Smoot, Ginny Boris, Gary Giovanni, Maren Nielsen, and especially Rob
Darrow for creating this once-in-a-lifetime memory! "Home is where
your story begins." (Above: Valarie recognizes her former teachers at the Clovis premiere.)
|National Conference on Race and Education (NCORE) (San Francisco, CA)
Here at the leading national forum on issues of race and ethnicity in American higher education, a classroom of teachers watch our film! We share our innovative dialogue program, led by Tommy Woon, Macalester Dean of Multicultural Life. And Valarie shares her work with Sandip Roy on NPR!
New Jersey Independent South Asian Cine Fest (New Brunswick, NJ)
At our New Jersey premiere, we win another award for Best Documentary! Thanks to our communications director Tracy Wells who represents the team.
Harvard Divinity School (Cambridge, MA)
On a Religion and Filmmaking panel, Valarie shares her journey and workalongside distinguished documentary filmmakers for Harvard Divinity School's Alumni Day
(pictured below). Her advisor Diana Eck moderates. The next day, she
graduates! A beautiful moment, thanks to Leila Kohler-Frueh.
Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) (Washington, DC)
Valarie are honored at the annual Sikh Heritage Dinner on Capitol Hill.
When Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) and Rana Sodhi (brother of the late
Balbir Sodhi) present the award on stage (pictured below), the filmmakers express their emotion and gratitude and tell their incredible story to the audience.
Interfaith Academies for Religious Leaders (Kansas City, MO)
We screen at a forum where diverse religious leaders come to talk, really talk. Thank you, Bud Heckman, for featuring us in this interfaith dialogue.
Urbanworld Film Festival (New York, NY)
Under the bright lights of Times Square, an audience experiences our movie. Thank you Brittany Ballard.
The Sister Fund - Faith and Feminism Dialogues (New York, NY)
a circle of women from different religious faiths, Valarie is invited
as the guest speaker, sharing the invisible stories of Sikh women for
the first time. The dialogue that follows is rich, tearful, and
inspiring. We are grateful to Julia Cato.
|Germany's Bollywood and Beyond Film Festival (Stuttgart, Germany)
is our Germany Premiere! Germany, as in Europe! We wish we could have
been there, and we thank the festival for featuring our film.
North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) (Richmond, VA)
Our communications director Tracy Wells shares our film and her work in the interfaith world with this diverse network.
KUSI's San Diego People - 30 Minute News Magazine
A CNN affiliate features Divided We Fall on San Diego People after catching us on the Paula Zahn show. The half-hour news magazine broadcasts clips from the film and talks with Valarie and Sharat as well as film interviewees Swaran Bhullar and Nitasha Sawhney. Our most compelling media feature yet, click the image below to watch the show.
Boston loves us, and we love Boston! Special thanks to L. B. Gratun.
|Dallas Video Festival (Dallas, TX)
we meet at a conference in Switzerland, Bart Weiss features us in his
festival! Thanks to Amrit Kaur for representing us at the festival.
|9/11 Unity Walk (Washington, DC)
kick-off the global Unity Walk against religious intolerance on the
Sept 11th anniversary, our film screens at the National Gurdwara in
DC. Thanks to Daniel Tutt.
Moondance Film Festival (Hollywood, CA)
We return to Southern California. Our film screens at the famous Universal Studios City Walk.
Queensborough Community College (Queens, NY)
the eve of September 11th, New York Assemblyman Rory Lancman hosts a
screening and discussion for an audience of New York City teachers,
firefighters, city officials, and local Sikh Americans.
Reed College (Portland, OR)
our Oregon premiere, Valarie's intellectual discussions with Reed
students continues over several days in classrooms, through lunch, and
over tea as they explore racism in the body. Thank you Lisa Moore!
Tamejavi Cultural Festival (Fresno, CA)
Producer and one of the film's stars Judge Brar (also Valarie's father)
presents the film for the first time in his hometown museum!
South Asian Film Festival (Orlando, FL)
of local families enjoy Indian food in a beautiful dinner-theater as
they watch our film on the big screen. And the Orlando Sentinel gives our film five stars! Thanks to Jasbir Bhatia for
hosting us at the festival she started from scratch!
Global Peace Film Festival (Orlando, FL)
at Rollins College fill our audience to watch and engage in deep honest
discussion after our film in this fantastic festival, thanks to the
care of Nina Streich!
|South Asian International Film Festival (New York, NY)
question-and-answer periods don't last more than a few minutes in movie
theaters, but ours lasted more than an hour, thanks to the high energy
of this audience! A big smile to Valarie's New York friends and her
cousin Simran for making this night so much fun!
Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ)
this intimate screening, Sharat and Valarie field astute questions and
make some new friends. Thank you Sangeetha Subramanian (and Valarie's
uncle Jas for taking care of us).
Flimmer Film Festival (Norrköping, Sweden)
Our Sweden Premiere! We hear it was fantastic and wish we could have been there!
|St. Edward's University (Austin, TX)
Valarie bonds with the women of St. Edward's Unity Coalition (pictured below),
screens the film for a packed audience, teaches in classrooms, explores
Texan history, waits for bats at the bridge, and brainstorms her next
project. A fantastic visit, thanks to Natalia Leal!
James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA)
our Virginia premiere, more than 500 students fill the audience! The
next day, Valarie leads an intense workshop for students going on a
Near East experimental learning weekend. All thanks to the women at
the Center for Multicultural Student Services.
Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
leads a series of discussions after screening at Northeastern, despite
almost losing her voice. We appreciate the warmth of the Asian
American Center, thanks to Celia Ho and director Delia Hom.
Spinning Wheel Film Festival (Beverly Hills, CA)
In a celebration of Sikh films, Divided We Fall screens next to One Light, a film by visionary 13-year old Angad Singh (pictured below with Valarie).
The audience is a sea of Sikh families, plus our friends, crew, and
associate producers Tonse and Vidya Raju (also Sharat's parents).
Sharat and Valarie are honored with a stunning award at the festival.
And the night before, the Sikh Center of Orange County give Valarie the
Seva Award for her service to the community. Thank you Bicky Singh for all your support!
Atlanta Indo-American Film Festival (Atlanta, GA)
communications director Tracy Wells, now relocated to Atlanta,
represents the film and leads a discussion that
spills into the lobby after the theater is closed. Among the audience
is our research assistant Rekha Radhakrishnan! Many thanks to
Ani Agnihotri for showcasing Indian film in Atlanta.
|University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)
After giving the plenary at a day-long conference on post-9/11 hate crimes hosted by the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights,
Valarie presents the film to more than 300 people who brave the cold to
join us. The discussion continues in classrooms the next day. Thank
you Ann Thiesen for organizing a remarkable gathering.
|University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI
Mon., Jan. 21
(MLK Day event)
Wayne State University
Thurs., Jan. 24
SAAN Conference (Valarie Kaur keynote only; no screening)
Ann Arbor, MI
Fri.-Sat., Jan. 25-26
Academy of the Sacred Heart
Bloomfield Hills, MI
Wed., Jan. 30
Fri., Feb. 1
Coming this spring: PREMIERES in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and return visits to Georgia, South Carolina, California, Connecticut, and New York!
More information on these and other upcoming screenings on our online tour calendar.
|What Audiences Are Saying
"I'm blown away by the effort and pure honesty of the film... The film opened my eyes to a new way to looking at the world."
18-25 year-old female, Orlando, Fla.
"I wish we had the power to show this film to every American. The heart and soul that went into its production is palpable from beginning to end. Finally our story told in our words. Thanks to this film, this crucial moment in America's history will not be missing our voice. This is truly a monumental achievement. Thank you for making this film."
35-year-old male, Sikh, Universal citizen
New York, N.Y.
"Thank you for your inspiring film! I was living in England on 9/11 and as a white American I see America and myself as the 'other' very frequently."
45-year-old white agnostic female American citizen
New Brunswick, N.J.
"I remember learning in
World History about Pastor Martin Niemoller (in WWII) and his statement
that it is necessary to stand in solidarity with marginalized and
terrorized and oppressed groups because it is al too easy to distance
ourselves and dissociate ourselves from groups and communities
identified as the other. DWF does a fantastic and very poignant job at
showing a human instead of the dehumanized enemy."
19-year-old female, API/Chinese, agnostic, former Protestant, American citizen
Los Angeles, Calif.
"What a powerful film. I can't wait to watch this with my children (ages 18, 16, 12, & 11)."
44-year-old female, WASP, Episcopalian, American citizen
"The film is relatable to
my life. I feel like the term 'American"' is who I am, but yet I've
been taught (in school, media) that I'm not. I can relate to the part
when you said that you were too Sikh at school, but then not Sikh
enough in other places. I truly felt connected to the film, as if my
story (as an African American) was told."
19-year-old female, African American, Catholic/Christian, American citizen
"The movie impressed me much and helped to understand cultural and religious conflict going on in the world... being from Kazakhstan seems kinda hilarious. I'm proud of my country. I'm proud of being a part of my nation, but in America people have wrong perception of it through Borat movie which is very offensive. It doesn't bother me much but makes my life harder. I don't want to be seen as a dumb person from the third world country; people don't take me for who I am."
20-year-old female, Asian, Christian, Kazakhstani citizen
"This film helped open my eyes even more towards discrimination and hate towards others. I learned so much from this film and it has changed my life and my thoughts toward other races and religions."
19-year-old female, white, Catholic, American citizen
"Prejudice is everywhere. In my experience, I've felt discrimination regarding some issues that are not always recognized, mainly as someone with lower socioeconomic status and suffering from a mental illness... I wish people would be more open to actually learning about this and consider what effects their words have."
18-year-old female, white, agnostic, American citizen
"As a 'brown' person, this movie made me aware of my own prejudice against white men."
26-year-old female, Indian (South Asian Indian), Catholic, American citizen
St. Paul, Minn.
"This film has restored my hope that, one day, the world's people will coexist in peace. You must work hard to have your film shown to everyone -- worldwide. Thank you for what you have produced. It will make a difference."
69-year-old male, white, American citizen
"I wish there were some way this film could be shown to everyone. I have lived through the Japanese incarceration, civil rights struggle in the South, and the results of 9/11 -- I cannot understand why people do not learn. This could help."
73-year-old female, white, Christian, American citizen
"It's amazing that one horrific incident can suddenly make you feel like an outsider,
21-year-old female, Indian, Hindu, American citizen
Ann Arbor, Mich.
"It was a great film which helped provide a snapshot into an area of American society I was not well aware about. As a member of the US military who will be leading soldiers of diverse backgrounds, it helped enlighten me to a different culture."
21-year-old male, Asian, Christian, American citizen
New Haven, Conn.
"I am Jewish and the film proved to be a real eye opener for me. I don't think most people are aware of how we harbor and nurture prejudices without even realizing it. I think this film needs to be shown in every middle school and high school. I know that the seeds of prejudice are planted at home, but they are nurtured by a lack of understanding."
Doris Levy Davidson
"I think that this film is great and every American should watch it. I think it can relate to so many people, not just Sikhs. This film makes me appreciate Sikhs so much more, and what they have all had to go through. I am ashamed now that I feared a family on a place about a year after 9/11 and even though they didn't know, I wish I could ask their forgiveness. I want to reach out and support these people more. I feel this film has enabled me to be a better person."
18-year-old female, Caucasian, Christian, American citizen
"Thank you for your tender presentation of the effects of ignorance and fear on the lives of victims and survivors of hate crimes. It was authentic, not angry; consequently, the raw truth is revealed. My heart is opened by the stories of your film, and I'm moved to learn more about how we can unite."
42-year-old female, Caucasian, Buddhist, American citizen
"I can very well identify with this film since I was born in one of the WWII Japanese internment 'concentration' camps... Thank you! These stories need to be told. If these lessons are not learned, then they can and will be repeated."
62-year-old male, Japanese-American, nature religion, American citizen
"This film is powerful beyond words, and it raised so many strong emotions, especially of deep sadness that fellow Americans have suffered so much due to their religion and the color of their skin. It's hard to believe that these things are still happening in America. This film... needs to be shown to the public at every possible opportunity."
25-year-old female, White, Christian (Methodist), American citizen
"I was really moved by DWF. It opened my eyes to the tragic problems that are happening to Sikh men and women. I am ashamed to say that when I was younger I looked at people with turbans in a different way than I looked at other people around me. I want to be able to make a difference because now I know what is really going on and how we can fix it. I hope that many people will embrace the movie as I did and feel empowered and changed by the movie."
17-year-old female, Caucasian, Jewish, American citizen
"Because of gatherings like these, us Sikhs are now being recognized, which is a very good thing. I was not going to write anything butwhen I got up and went around to the back of the seats looking for a pencil, this five-year-old girl looked at me and gave me a smile of RECOGNITION. And that is thanks to your movie. Because I was the only turban in the room. Good luck and God bless."
19-year-old male, Indian, Sikh, Indian citizen
"A moving film, especially for a Sikh male living in NY. I think most of us have gone through the same experiences. Many thanks."
47-year-old male, Punjabi, Sikh, British citizen
"This movie is AMAZING! So impactful! This reminds me of some of my own experiences as a 'Gaysian' (Gay and Asian).
Originally from California, moving to Minnesota three years ago, people
here in MN have told me that it is SO safe here. In my three years
here, I have been called a 'fag' many times, chased by people telling
me to 'go home to my own country' and have had a glass bottle thrown at
me as I was being called a 'Chink.' Is Minnesota really that safe?
Maybe if you are white."
25-year-old male, Asian, American citizen
St. Paul, Minn.
"Thank you! Very inspiring and a great service to all of humanity."
27-year-old female, Palestinian, Muslim, American and Israeli citizen
"I am Sikh and I too worry about my brother, dad and family every day. I am from California and hate crimes like this occur every day there. I can't wait for the day when I will feel safe and comfortable with my brothers, father and family walking on the streets; I can't wait till my want for my family to cut their hair diminishes; I can't wait to be comfortable being Sikh in the world."
19-year-old female, Indian, Sikh, American citizen
"This story speaks for so many cultures and for so many that are discriminated against."
22-year-old female, Mexican American, Cathoic, American citizen (born in Mexico)