Oct 18, 2008

Pakistan, Singapore, California, and The Sky Below

November is my birthday month. It's also the month in which THE SKY BELOW travels east to Pakistan and Singapore, and west to California...

Next week, here in New York City, Nandita Das' directorial debut FIRAAQ premieres with SAIFF. It's a bold, courageous film. An interview of Nandita Das will appear in Film and Festivals magazine by the dedicated deputy editor Chris Patmore. The magazine is available online now, so sign up and check it out! It's one of the most filmmaker friendly sources of content related to the independent film world...

Sep 13, 2008

Bangkok bound!!!

I have been invited to present my film at the Bangkok International Film Festival at the end of this month. I think it screens on Sept 29th and 30th.

My first time to that part of the world...! I would so love to travel around into neighboring Cambodia and Laos and Vietnam. Next time.

To see a list of festivals and screenings The Sky Below has had the honor of participating in, please visit www.temporarypassenger.blogspot.com

Aug 20, 2008

LINKS and other film updates

Recently interviewed by Deepa Pant of THE ARAB TIMES...Upcoming festivals both here in the US and abroad....STAY TUNED.

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Aug 14, 2008


Film and Festival Magazine features a 2 page article on the doc in their SUMMER 2008 issue.

Click on the pages below for an up-close read...


SUMMER 2008 update on The Sky Below

Greetings to you wherever you are in this world... Since the wonderful seaside festival of Santa Barbara Intl Film Festival (known as "the Cannes of America"), my film and I have been to Greece to premiere at the prestigious documentary festival held in March every year at the seaside town of Thessaloniki (see pic below).

Incredible does not really describe the filmmaker's experience very well at this mediterranean festival. Honored is more like it. A devoted staff, beautiful setting and theatres, an enthusiastic audience comprised of people and press from all over the world, and the wonderful opportunity to visit ancient and historic nearby ruins. I also was fortunate to meet Chris Patmore of Film and Festival Magazine, UK.

From Greece, The Sky Below had its' Los Angeles premiere with the Indian Film Festival of LA (IFFLA). Christine Marouda and her staff (and volunteers) are taking 'the film festival' to another level. This was by far the best festival, in terms of overall experience and attention to detail, that I have had the honor of attending as a filmmaker.

The Sky Below has had a great run in festivals so far....with premieres in Thessaoloniki, New York, Los Angeles, Mumbai, New Delhi, Kathmandu, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Athens/ OH, Montana, Karachi, Lahore....with others upcoming this year.

A screening and reception was organized in Silicon Valley by the indefatigable and passionate Deepka Lalwani in conjunction with IBPW, SAAFA, and the India Intl Center of Milpitas, CA.

I've also finally set up a site to showcase my work: SARAH SINGH

Stay tuned....we've only just begun...

THE SKY BELOW at Thessaloniki Intl Film Festival

Here's a pic from a press conference for "The Sky Below" (along with fellow filmmakers from Turkey and the UK...I am 2nd from left)

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Feb 23, 2008

SBIFF 2008

Thanks again to Candace Schermerhorn and the Santa Barbara Film Festival for such a wonderful opportunity to screen...I had 2 sold out shows and some great questions from the audience following the screenings.
Interview with Sam Kornell of the Santa Barbara Independent

Jan 17, 2008



I am honored to announce that this award-winning film on Pakistan and India is to be screened at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, where it has also been nominated for the 2008 Social Justice Award for Documentary Film!
See this link:

In other news, I have recently returned to the US after having been in Pakistan and India for almost 2 years creating this documentary...

In March, I will be attending the Thessaloniki Intl Film Festival where the doc has also been selected to screen!

The last two years making this film were some of the most challenging...and rewarding...months of my life. I reconnected with family, friends...and put a lot of faith in strangers...and had the honor and pleasure of meeting some of South Asia's most dynamic and inspiring individuals.

The Sky Below has screened at the Rubin Museum in Manhattan with SAIFF, in Bombay with the Asia Society, in New Delhi at the India Intl Centre, and in Kathmandu at Film South Asia...where it won the BEST FILM DEBUT award. Screenings have also happened in Bangalore, Chandigarh, Patiala, Calcutta, and Amritsar.

In addition to the SANTA BARBARA INTL FILM FEST, the doc was/has been selected for: Thessaloniki FF, Big Sky FF, Vibgyor, SAIFF, Film South Asia, Kara Film Festival, Madurai FF, and IAWRTC....

Here are some links to press I have had along this journey:


THE HINDU, Ronita Torcato

DNA, Malavika Sangghvi

THE HINDU, Ayesha Mattan


THE DECCAN HERALD, Subrahmanyan Viswanath



GREETINGS to you....wherever you are in this world...

Oct 8, 2006

temporary passage: Part 3

i have just come back from shoots in ferozepur, faridkot, and amritsar---it went really well with some amazing characters and interviews--that part of punjab is like the wild west--everyone seems to carry a gun--even a heartpatient in his 80s!! recorded some musicians, and took a ride in a rudimentary wooden boat in the sutlej... the river has been stilled by the dam, so the surface is as slick and smooth as glass---so calm that the boat slides across with little to no sound except the twin oars dipping into the river with the slowed routine of one with no passengers awaiting his return or arrival.

On its route from the mountains of tibet, the sutlej serves as the border between pakistan and india in some places as it crosses through the two punjabs ...all is forgotten as one glides along this watery crevice--past the fields and farmers that meet along its banks.

got to the fencing that denotes the border area of the two punjabs near pul kanjri, a small village about 20 kms from amritsar--quite a lot of barbed wire that weaves in and out and circles around itself as it creates a barrier about 10ft high and 5 ft thick--with an electric current running through to fry those who test the division at night.

i was there during the mid-day sun, and against this metallic web of lines, a black female dog edged her way through from one side to the other, negotiating the twists and turns of the barbed wire in a manner which suggested her familiarity with the routine. a deft approach by hungry dog in the rising heat.

pul kanjri used to be a thriving place during the time of maharaja ranjit singh. he stopped here on his trips between lahore and amritsar--and had a favorite dancer, moran, who performed for him as he rested between towns. the village is named for her--after an incident in which the poor dancer lost a shoe in a tiny canal that used to run along here---so the maharaja promptly had a bridge built for her to cross thereafter. pul=bridge and kanjri=dancer (though i am told kanjri is now a derogatory name)....

there are remnants of his architecture that he had built around an intimate water tank--including a slightly hidden section where ladies could bathe--and considering how dusty, dry, and hot it is here--i am sure they welcomed the secluded opportunity. one gate remains out of 12 that were surrounding the place of rest. a mosque still stands from the same time, and is "maintained" by the BSF within their encampment.

the car i was riding around these border towns in was more of a contraption--and at one point it didn't respond to the iron rod that the driver occasionally had to bang against its engine--- i came to find out that the driver was an addict (to a certain combination of painkillers and something that is in a small green packet that's easily available at any chemist). this is the alternative when opium is not available-- this part of punjab apparently has a terrible drug problem, with some places having as high as 50% of users.

it being the border district of punjab, it has not seen the "development" that the rest of the state has seen. and certainly the presence of the BSF and the Army--though in the background of daily life---tends towards a subliminal consciousness of the fragility of permanence.

but i would say it's the most beautiful part i have seen so far in punjab. rich farmland accentuated by white, powdery earth; ridges lined with safeda (eucalyptus) trees in which to overlook the crops; and the silent trace of the sutlej, with its slow-moving wooden ferry boats powered only by the strength of its solitary rower.

Sep 2, 2006

temporary passage: Part 2

update for the doc i am working on--

am in punjab to continue shooting--and should go to kashmir briefly, then rajasthan--not sure if i will be able to make it back to pakistan but am trying to work that out, as of course, it is necessary.

yesterday visited a site that correlates to the harappan sites in pakistan (same time period)...4,000-2,000 years ago...part of indus river basin civ. it relates to the doc in that this particular site was the 1st to be excavated in this side of punjab after 1947---all the other excavated sites at the time, had fallen on the other side of the border (notably mohenjo-daro and harappa) with the partition. it would be utilized as a quick glimpse into the past that connects the two regions/countries.

the general idea behind the flow of the doc stems from the phrase Kissa Khawani---urdu for "street of storytellers". there will be an emphasis on camera movement (the partition was about massive movement, among other things--the largest migration of people in history). the storyteller idea is a conceptual take on the environment as a whole (how religion, myth, ritual, ancient ways dictate much of the structure of life here--i.e. the relevance of story/folktale/and in not so beguiling a fashion----gossip). the beauty in this is the bridge it creates between 'fact' and 'fiction'---the double-vision of interpretative story-telling which in turn layers our experience of daily perceptions, and thus, our recorded and oral history.

and given the steady influx over thousands of years of invasion, there are many stories that flow here in this part of the world.

finally read 'freedom at midnite'--which i am sure many may have thought it inspired me or something...but to my dismay it is very much a mills and boon version of such an event. though, in line with storytelling--it's apt.


temporary passage: Part 1

while in a village near amritsar, i got a taste of that most dreaded fear for a female--- i was with both cameras trying to get closer to the border area of pakistan on foot with the aid of a villager who had just left his day's work in the field---and all of a sudden he is trying to physically advance himself on me----i push him away and take off--running down the powdery dry, dusty dirt field road with my two cameras in hand---never looking back but listening hard for the sound of his running towards me--which thank goodness never happened. all this while the sun had already set--- the scene being barely lit by the moon.

was in dehra dun area for a short break--and spent an afternoon on the old mussorie road which is so narrow in places it seems like it was originally designed for people on foot and maybe a bullock cart---but here we are squeezing past each other in our vehicles...a particular stretch seems like it was inhabited by a community of muslims, as there was a small broken structure that was a mosque-and all along that stretch seemed to have similar architecture, similar time frame...at one point, i followed a small curving path from a broken facade to its backside-and there was a 1 room village home with this lovely old couple so welcoming; not at all perturbed by someone casually walking into their property. through my translator (my half-sister), i found out that the broken structure was a purana qila (old fort) but the date was unknown. this woman saw my camera and gestured for me to come into another room--to see the carpets she makes. what was striking for me in meeting her was the fact that when she took off her glasses (i guess they were for seeing closeup), she suddenly took on a startled expression---as if what she saw around her was just a little frightening...so her eyes pierced instead of perused-and one felt she wasn't at ease; but in fact, that tightly wound expression of hers was only an indicator of someone with a hard time seeing.

i read up a little on dehra dun, and it turns out that the area was ruled by a woman for a time, until the gurkhas defeated her; and then the british took over from them some time after.

i left dehra dun by bus for the 6 hr ride to chandigarh. at times, as we circled the hills/mountains, i thought for sure that a couple of wheels were riding on air as we rounded a bend---my nerves and stomach bore the brunt of all my fears as my mind conjured up and replayed the image of a metal box full of people tumbling down the side of a mountain, with momentary glimpses of arms or bus's wheels as it bounded down in twists and turns. i could only hope that the driver valued his life as he overtook another bus ON A MOUNTAINSIDE CURVE not a straight stretch of road...i reminded myself as we "overtook" the other metal box full of people, that this driver must be plying this route all the time...that his driving experience would outweigh the randomness of whatever lay around that bend...