November 4th, 2011 mani

Vancouver Island University

One of my favourite things to do is reach out and awareness work for the youth.  My film career has blessed me with many opportunities to come out to events and help educate youth and the public about gangsterism, women’s rights, and other socially conscious issues.

A Warrior’s Religion provided me with such opportunities, and to my surprise, now this film, is doing the same.

Professor Jay Ruzesky reached out to me after using A Warrior’s Religion in his class.  He was hoping I could come down and do a Q&A for the class, which I jumped at the chance to do.  After going back for a couple of weeks, we decided this would be a good opportunity to showcase FIG.

FIG, still going through the film festival circuit had not been actively circulated for further theatrical and educational screenings, these students essentially got a ‘sneak peak’!

It was a great event, a very engaged crowd, and an awesome day all around.  I had missed the island, as it will always will feel like home for me.

The new VIU LEED Cowichan Campus was absolutely stunning!  Environmentally & aesthetically beautiful!

Shout out to Professor Jay Ruzesky for the awesome experience.  It was my sincere pleasure to work with VIU once again.

Thank you to the awesome questions, comments, and feedback from the students/public in attendance.

Thank you Vancouver Island University!

Looking forward to more opportunities to give back to the youth.



post copied from; 

R.I.P. Maple Batalia

October 20th, 2011 mani

…the younger sister of a supporter and friend of mine was shot and killed in the parkade of SFU Surrey.  Maple was leaving school after a long night of studying…

Emergency crews try to revive Maple Batalia at a parking garage at Simon Fraser University's Surrey campus early Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011.

An aspiring model & actress, a driven youth, a beautiful person, and a girl who left us much to early, was lost.

I always knew that this issue would start getting closer and closer to home for me, I think this event is what is ‘breaking the camel’s back’.

Though I never had the chance to meet Maple personally, I knew her older sister, Rose.

Rose has been one of my first supporters and has never stopped supporting me and my work.  Maple, Rose, and the entire Batalia family deserved better.

We cannot live in a society where people with no connection to any gangs or criminal activity are shot and killed in cold blood.  This is ridiculous people…my heart breaks with every fucking blog post I write…when will people stand up?  When will you stand up and help make a positive difference?  Just fucking stand…


I think everyone was already aware of this, it looks like the ex-boyfriend, Gurjinder ‘Gary’ Dhaliwal, is the main suspect…

Gurjinder 'Gary' Dhaliwal, the ex-boyfriend of murder victim Maple Batalia, has been charged in an assault against two people. Oct. 3, 2011. (CTV)

If he thinks he can commit such a heinous crime and not be known to the public, then he is sadly mistaken, everyone should be aware of a murderer’s face;


A candlelight vigil was held for Maple on September 30th, 2011;

Candlelight vigil in Maple Batalia's memory–candlelight-vigil-held-for-maple-batalia

R.I.P. Maple Batalia

Further links to this story;

News Videos;


Recognizing Anti-Gang Artwork

September 14th, 2011 mani

My name is Junichi Swope. I'm 16 years old, in grade 11, and go to Dr. Charles Best Secondary. The recent increase in gang violence in the tri-cities inspired this poster. My poster is a warning to people who are thinking about joining a gang. I want to leave the poster up to peoples' imagination, whether they want to identify with being the person pulling the trigger, or the person about to get killed. Neither scenario is ideal, and very well could happen if one joins a gang.

I am one and half years late with this post, I apologize, thank you to Robin Mahal for reminding me of it.

In spring of 2010, The Vancouver Sun ran a contest asking students across BC to submit their anti-gang posters.  The amount of students who took part in the contest was amazing.

Thank you to The Vancouver Sun for initiating this and a very special thank you to all the students who used their art to bring awareness to this socially conscious issue.

More initiatives like this need to be put in place, art has an uncanny power to make a positive difference, we do not need to realize this fact, we just need to remember that it was always true. 

Bacon Brothers murder conspiracy, story continues…

August 16th, 2011 mani

One of the three notorious Bacon Brothers was shot and killed on Sunday, August 14th, at around 2:45pm.

Jonathan Bacon (left) accompanied by fellow gang member, Matt Johnston.  Photograph courtesy of Rick Collins/Special to The Vancouver Sun (2008)

photograph courtesy of Jennifer Zielinski (2011)

Jonathan Bacon, the eldest of the 3 brothers, was targeted by a masked gunman outside of the Delta Grand Hotel in Kelowna, BC.  Five others were wounded in the attack, included full-path Hell’s Angel member, Larry Amero.

The Bacon Brothers partnered with the Red Scorpions gang in 2006 to strengthen their power and compete with the illegal activities of the Hells Angels & UN Gang.

Sidenote: Anyone ever wonder why ‘Hells Angels’ isn’t ‘Hell’s Angels’?  Well after a couple of minutes of googling, I tracked the answer down on the Hells Angels’ official website in the FAQ section;

Isn’t the apostrophe missing in Hells Angels? 
Should the Hells in Hells Angels have an apostrophe, and be Hell’s Angels? That would be true if there was only one Hell, but life & history has taught us that there are many versions and forms of Hell.

Every time I have an opportunity to educate people on gangs, I always state that the issue is not slowing down.  Gang-related murders might be on the decrease, but the amount of retaliations, drive-by shootings, and other violent crimes associated with gang activity, are all on the increase.  *they get their own wiki page before I get one?  wtf… *Bacon Brothers’ descriptions & particulars


Student project brings needed awareness to youth violence issue

July 31st, 2011 mani

A couple of months ago, I was approached by a young student named Akash Gill.  She told me she was putting together a documentary on the youth violence issue for her class project.  I learned very quickly of Akash’s drive and passion to bring awareness to this issue, therefore agreed to be interviewed for her documentary.

My interview from “The Youth Gang Violence Project”;

Thank you Akash for the interview, for helping to bring awareness to this issue, and allowing me to share your work on my website.

Akash advised me that she is always looking at doing volunteer work in the community, if you wish to collaborate with her, you can contact her here.

Thanks everyone!


Another South Asian women killed by estranged husband…

July 31st, 2011 mani

R.I.P. Ravinder Kaur Bhangu.

Ravinder Kaur Bhangu.  photography courtesy of Sukhminder Singh Cheema, for the Province

Yet another sad case of violence in the South Asian community…a young women (age 24) was attacked and murdered by her husband (whom she left a few months earlier due to domestic issues) at her work on July 28th, 2011.

The husband, Sunny Bhangu, 26, attacked his wife with an axe and a meat cleaver.  Sources say the attack was premeditated.

A co-worker selflessly tried to intervene, sadly, to no avail.  The co-worker was injured during his heroic act.

After Sunny Bhangu murdered his wife, he made no attempt to leave.

I am fucking tired of all the violence in our community, yet only a few people are taking a stand in making a difference.  The politicians will only put together forums and allocate funding towards awareness on issues such as this in election years, the rest of the time they collect their hefty pay cheques and sit on their asses or assess better photo opportunities.

Young women will keep dying if there is not a phenomenal shift in the thinking that has been engrained in our culture.

We need more support services for young women trying to leave homes with domestic violence or other issues.

Referring article/link can be found here.

photography courtesy of Les Bazso, The Province (2011)

Interview with Caravan TV

July 11th, 2011 mani

Hello all,

I was recently given the opportunity to bring awareness about the gang issue to the Iranian community of Vancouver.

The interview originally aired on July 9th, 2011.

Shout out and thanks to Anne Khan for the great experience.


Bal Buttar agrees to plead guilty

June 17th, 2011 mani

Bal Buttar, who was a central character in my film, has agreed to plead guilty to the conspiracy to commit murder charge.

This situation has been going on since September of 2007, which really doesn’t say a lot about our legal system.  Bal Buttar, who was recorded, was obviously in cahoots with Meena Jouhal, but still took nearly 4 years to charge this perennial douchebag.

Well, whatever the case may be, he will be sentenced on June 27th, 2011.  One thing is for sure, he won’t be doing any hard time, the amount of money it would cost the taxpayer to house this criminal in a facility that can meet his medical and special needs will be horrendous.  The real punishment in my opinion is to take away the luxuries he takes for granted; his television, his visiting rights, his special foods, & his FUCKING PHONE.

Who else but Kim Bolan has covered this story;

Photograph by: Bill Keay, Vancouver Sun
Bal Buttar is now a quadriplegic after he had been shot twice in the head.
Photograph by: Bill Keay, Vancouver Sun

Blind quadriplegic gangster pleads guilty to murder conspiracy

VANCOUVER — A blind quadriplegic gangster who once confessed in The Vancouver Sun to a series of murders has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to kill a friend’s husband.

Bal Buttar, who is confined to a wheelchair after being shot in the head a decade ago, will make his change of plea appearance and be sentenced at the Kelowna Law Courts June 27, a B.C. Supreme Court judge heard Thursday.

Read the rest of this entry »

Back to the drawing board

June 12th, 2011 mani

Hey all,

As Footsteps Into Gangland goes through the film festival circuit, and hopefully distribution, I find myself with idle hands.

Things are pretty calm for me this summer, for the first time in years.  With that being said, I hate not having extra work to do, so I have decided to bump up production on my 3rd feature length film.  I have entered the writing stage of my new film which will be a narrative on Vancouver’s downtown east side.  The story will be about a young women forced into prostitution to support her drug addiction.

As with all my films, it will be hard-hitting, drastically realistic, and most likely controversial.  Though controversy is never a goal, it seems to follow me around :)

With 2 features under my belt, I may have enough experience and notoriety to receive funding from Telefilm…a long shot but one I must take.  Self financing gives me the freedom of artistic control but makes me a slave to capitalism.  I am yet to find that balance of doing what I want in filmmaking with other producers’ money.

As always, will keep everyone posted.

Best regards,


AWR used in a centennial conference!

May 7th, 2011 mani

On May 6th, 2011, an excerpt of A Warrior’s Religion was used to enhance a presentation during the Transnational Punjabis in the 21st Century: Beginnings, Junctures and Departures Centennial Conference which ran from May 5th – 7th.

The conference was presented by the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies within the University of Fraser Valley.

The presentation’s abstract is as follows;

A Warrior’s Religion Dissected-Past and Present

The term “warrior’s religion” and “warrior race” has become synonymous when discussing Sikhism and Sikh history. I will dissect this issue by looking at the historical context in which such warrior ascetic groups emerged, and under what conditions. More specifically, I will look at the emergence of warrior ascetic groups around the Punjab region as a unique situation in itself due to the areas geographic location. When assessing this term ‘warrior’s religion,’ one also must consider whether such a term is a western concept and thus forced upon us-or is it a term and image which Sikhs embrace? I then connect this theme of the Sikh religion as a ‘warrior’s religion’ in relation to a documentary created by local artist, Mani Amar, titled “A Warrior’s Religion.” Mani was heavily criticized for titling his documentary as such because his film looked at the nature of gang wars within the South Asian community. I then analyze our modern-day equating between Sikhs as a warrior race, and such Sikh youth embracing this image in order to commit crimes of power.


I am glad my research and films are being used to bring awareness on a multitude of issues.  This is why I do what I do.

Shout out to Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra for utilizing the film and for her ongoing support of my films.

The entire conference agenda can be found here.

As always, thanks everyone.


The Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival New Asia Festival Sikh International Festival Spinning Wheel Festival