By Lisa Gauthier Mitchison
Fishers resident Gurinder Singh Khalsa is the subject of a submission to the Indy Shorts International Film Festival. The film, “Singh,” is part of the category Indiana Spotlight, which showcases films with a director or producer with former or current Indiana residency and/or the majority of the film must have been shot in Indiana.
Indy Shorts runs July 25-28 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.
The film is based on the true story of Singh, a Sikh, when he detained in 2007 at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport in New York after he refused to unwrap his turban for TSA agents. As a sacred symbol of Sikh faith, the turban is not to be removed in public areas, but at the time, removal was a standard security procedure. Singh was instrumental in getting the procedure changed, including collecting 67,000 signatures supporting the policy change. In January, he was presented the Rosa Parks Trailblazer Award for his efforts.
Singh describes himself as a very optimistic person.
“America is going in only one direction. It is getting more diverse,” Singh said. “And people who believe in these kinds of things (racism), they have no choice but to move on. The good thing is that the youngest generations, they don’t believe that (the racism). They believe more in assimilation.
“Everything takes time. There is more acceptance now than you think.”
Director Jenna Ruiz, a 2018 graduate of Avon High School and IUPUI student, was working at a media producer for Singh’s Sikhs Political Action Committee when she learned about what had happened.
“Upon hearing the story, I knew immediately this was something that people everywhere needed to see and experience,” Ruiz said. “Not only is it moving and shocking, but it had the potential to help people understand in a unique way who Sikhs are as well as what it’s like to live as a Sikh in America, so we decided to make a film.”
Indy Shorts International Film Festival is Indianapolis’ only short film festival and is an Academy Award-qualifying event. The festival is expected to be the largest of its kind in the Midwest, with 152 films. Indy Shorts exclusively features films less than 40 minutes in length.
For more, visit heartlandfilm.org.