August 30th, 2012 mani
Dan Ferguson of Peace Arch News has been a great supporter over the years, he was one of the original people that ‘believed’ in me and his faith in me has not wavered.
He recently got in touch to do an interview with me on my new projects, it was a great opportunity for me to bring awareness to the Decrepit, my latest film project.
As always, my humble and sincerest thanks goes out to Dan for his continued support.
You can find the full article here.
After Peace Arch News released this story, another supporter, Wawmeesh Hamilton of Alberni Valley News got in touch to pick up the story and talk about future projects, one of which I hope to do in my hometown of Port Alberni.
You can read that full article here.
Shout outs to Dan and Wawmeesh for the great articles.
July 30th, 2012 mani
Jas Kang, a student of Radio Broadcasting at Humber College, got in touch in hopes of utilizing soundbites of my film along with a telephone interview with me for his upcoming radio documentary on South Asian Gang Violence, specifically on Bal Buttar. As it is my duty in supporting youth, I was honoured at the invitation, and gladly accepted.
Though the telephone interview had sound issues and could not be utilized for the project, the soundbites were readily used. However, the documentary was not selected to air.
Here is Jas’s documentary in full;
Shout out to Jas for helping bring awareness to this issue.
June 18th, 2012 mani
It is no secret how popular ‘The Real Housewives of…’ shows are, come on, they keep people stupid while allowing you to live vicariously through their lives of dining out, shopping, and facial massages. My apparent discord for these types shows is well known and I really do not want to waste my time even blogging about it, but this you should know;
The Real Housewives of Vancouver premiered a couple of months ago to high ratings and praise, one of the ‘Housewives’, Reiko MacKenzie, is married to -former- gangster, Vinuse ‘Sun News’ Lal, currently known as Sun News MacKenzie, a day trader & venture capitalist. Really? Anyone buying that?
Mr. Lal, former friend/associate of the notorious Bindy Johal is living a life of riches and comforts, proclaiming that his fortune was made through hard work. While this bullshit might sound grand on mainstream media, we all know that it is garbage. Mr. Lal and Mrs. Plastica aka Reiko need to get their heads out of their asses and remember that their lives of grandeur were made on the spilled blood of the Metro Vancouver community.
Here is the Vancouver power couple as of 2012;
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May 21st, 2012 mani
My post today is unfortunately about a negative experience with a South Asian event than about a positive one. Experiences such as these have become all too typical.
I will refrain from painting the entire South Asian Community with a broad brush, as these things happen in all communities, it has just been unfortunate that I have had the same experience multiple times in the same community.
Early in April, I was contacted by, Sandy Grewal, executive team member and Director of Films & Programming of the Punjabi International Film Festival (PIFF).
Ms. Grewal had heard about my latest feature, Footsteps Into Gangland, and was interested in screening it in Toronto. It is always exciting to be recruited by a film festival, after all, that is the way independent filmmakers get noticed. However, knowing the nature of my work, I advised Ms. Grewal that before any promises are made, it would be prudent of her to watch my film. Although she had heard good things about the film, I rather have a person watch the entire film and make a decision based on personal experience. My work has been deemed controversial and I do not want to have unexpected backlash from the festival from a rushed decision on Ms. Grewal’s part.
I provided PIFF with the preview link to Footsteps Into Gangland, also, I provided links to my other films as Ms. Grewal expressed interest. A week or so later, I was contacted by PIFF again. It seems my film was well received, furthermore, they wanted to showcase not only Footsteps Into Gangland, but A Warrior’s Religion (Short), and the Decrepit.
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April 28th, 2012 mani
Last month I finished work on my 3rd film, a documentary short entitled ‘the Decrepit’.
‘Filmed in the summer of 2011, ‘the Decrepit’ is a micro-budget project (less than $5k) that was made to provide an empowering voice to the people of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.
Too often these people are taken out of context and made to look as though they are ‘human trash’ by broadcasters and filmmakers.
Hear what these people have to say in the context which they intended.
Shout out to Brad Dyck for helping out with the sound and to the Vancouver Police Department: Beat Enforcement Team.
A very special thank you and shout out to Constable S. Lail, without him, this project would not have been possible.
The film is free to watch and share, I hope everyone understands the underlying message of the film.
Thank you for your support.
April 13th, 2012 mani
Dr. Summer Pervez continues to show her support and utilize my work for her classes. I was shown further honour and respect by being invited yet again to speak to one her classes at the Richmond campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University on April 11th, 2012.
The class was very engaged which lead to some strong discussion and dialogue. It is always encouraging and inspiring to me when my work is being utilized and is well received. Hopefully I can continue using film, poetry, and other modes of art to bring about positive change.
It has been a long journey since I decided to utilize film to bring awareness to socially conscious issues, I have been blessed with the respect I receive and I hope to continue educating students on issues such as gang activity.
Shout out to Summer once again for being such a great supporter.
(Screening of A Warrior’s Religion took place on April 4th)
February 23rd, 2012 mani
MP Jasbir Sandhu, in partnership with the School of Criminology at SFU hosted a forum; Crime & Our Community on February 21st, 2012.
It is always an honour to be asked to speak to an audience as a guest speaker, or in this case, a panel member. This forum’s panel hosted very educated and experienced members of the community who have in-depth knowledge of criminology, awareness, prevention, intervention, enforcement, and the marijuana trade industry.
The other panel members were; Dr. Robert Gordon, Ruth Lee, Colleen Staresina, & Shayne Williams. The forum was hosted by MP Jasbir Sandhu, moderated by Peter Leblanc (community and outreach assisatant to Jasbir Sandhu). MP Jinny Sims was also present as a guest panelist.
There was much dialogue which was followed up with great questions from the audience.
I would like to note that Maple Batalia’s mother and father were present showing support for change in our community. Their strength and courage is inspiring. I wish the Batalia family further strength. Justice for your daughter will be found.
The forum’s dialogue and Q&A was recorded, please feel free to listen below.
Shout out to Jasbir Sandhu and his office for organizing such an important event, SFU for hosting, and Peter Leblanc for tracking me down and asking me to be a panelist.
Crime & Our Community – February 21st, 2012
As always, thank you for helping make a positive change,
December 12th, 2011 mani
It was a long road, but the film is finally available on DVD!
Thanks to everyone who helped throughout the production process.
Major thanks goes out to Sandi Nijjar, my manager for the last 4 years, and Robin Mahal, my assistant director who took on duties outside her scope of practice much too often.
Here is some teaser artwork for the DVD release;
December 3rd, 2011 mani
Professor Dr. Summer Pervez, a long time supporter of mine, has been utilizing my films as a means to educate students on South Asian Canadian Literature. Dr. Pervez’s teaching style marks a change from traditional teaching practices; with a gift to keep students engaged, Dr. Pervez exposes students to a world of independent films and literature, very different from the usual over-utilization of main stream books and films.
On December 1st, I was invited to do a Q&A as well as talk about my personal experiences that lead me into filmmaking. It was a great experience at the Richmond campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
I thank the students for their props and support and wish them the best in making a positive difference in this world.
Shout out to Summer for the ongoing support!
(Screening of A Warrior’s Religion took place on November 22nd/24th & screening of Footsteps Into Gangland took place on December 6th)
November 13th, 2011 mani
Bal Buttar in 2001.
Photograph: RCMP Files
It took awhile, more than 10 years in a long-term care facility, after being blinded and paralyzed during an attempt on his life in 2001, but he got what he deserved, that is for sure.
Most people don’t know that not only was Bal Buttar a central character in my film, but that he considered me a friend and confidant. Kim Bolan does not shy away from telling the world what Bal ‘confided’ in her, but the truth is, he was using her for the attention that he long craved. To be honest, I don’t think she ever realized it. Once I got a hold of Bal, he tried to use me too. He thought that my film was going to be about him, and solely him. His thirst of attention was based out of insecurities that are central underlying traits in most gangsters and gangster ‘wannabes’. He often talked about how him being in my film would help sell copies of his book (that I ghost-wrote notes for as he dictated for obvious reasons), and that after the film and book release, he would be welcomed as a motivational speaker at schools. He would talk about how people would learn from his mistakes, yet he continued to make his own. I experienced his temper many times, calling me names, insulting me, and so on. I witnessed his anger towards others when he could not control situations, racial and sexual remarks were often thrown at staff that worked in the care facility. His insecurities skewed his perception of reality, often remarking how ‘bitches’ would still want to fuck him, even in his current state, and that he could have any girl just based on his history.
Poor Bal never fully grasped that he was the butt of all jokes about what it is to be a typical gangster. That his image was portrayed as one of a failure and that his life was nothing but a tragedy. He circumscribed sadness.
The things he confided in me were not of his crimes only, every officer and reporter already knew of his ‘secrets’, but it was his personal life, that no one really knew. His longing to pursue arts as a child, only to have his father disrespect and humiliate him at the mere notion. Or how after everything went awry, he still held hope that his estranged son would one day visit him and call him dad. It were these things that brought me close to Bal. It were these things that made me an important person in his life. I will not deny, that I felt sad for him.
I never went into a visit with him wanting to know his ‘criminal life’, but every day asked of him about ‘him’. The person. Don’t get me wrong, a person so distanced from any emotion that involves trust was not the quickest of people to warm up to a complete stranger. I spent 4-6 hours with Bal for months. Talking to him about ‘him’, about his feelings, his memories, and everything in between. Within a few weeks, the situation had become normal, we were both comfortable with one another. The nursing staff often saw me doing his meal feeds, or grabbing him a drink of water or an extra blanket. We traded jokes, listened to/watched t.v., he even gave me advice on problems I was having with my fiance (ex-fiance now) at the time.
People were worried about me. Saying I was putting myself in danger by getting involved with him. Bal still had many enemies, as he did encompass some secrets that they did not want the world to hear. But it was all worth it for the footage I got of him, in his rawest essence, in his most vulnerable state.
Bal’s scenes in my film were some of the most moving and most disturbing. Some of what he said was so prolific and poetic, yet, some of what he said was just plainly arrogant, stupid, and ignorant.
But that was Bal, a very complex person, with a multitude of insecurities and problems. Bal hurt a lot of people, some of whom were just gangsters and perhaps deserved the fate, but some were just innocent people that got hurt via his rampage through his life.
I believe in karma, and karma will ultimately come to a balance. For a long time it swayed, but just recently, it has tipped closer to being level, than when Bal was alive.
A typical image of Bal Buttar for the rest of his life.
Photograph by: Bill Keay, Vancouver Sun