Last November, Pancouver published a glowing review of the local LGBTQ+ documentary, Emergence: Out of the Shadows. Directed by Surrey filmmaker Vinay Giridhar, it includes portraits of three residents of South Asian ancestry who’ve embraced their queer identities.
Now, the producer, Sher Vancouver LGBTQ Friends Society, has posted each portrait as an individual video on YouTube. As a result, anyone with a computer can watch them from home for free.
One of those videos focuses on Alex (Amar) Sangha. He’s the film’s producer and founder of Sher Vancouver.
In this segment, Sangha talks about being bullied in his Surrey high school. In addition, he highlights all the love that he’s received from his Punjabi-born mother, Jaspal Kaur Sangha.
Another video tells the story of artist Jag Nagra, whose work Pancouver has covered in the past. Like Sangha, Nagra also benefited from parental support as she came to terms with her sexual orientation.
The third video revolves around Kayden Bhangu, who left Punjab after feeling ostracized over his queer identity. There’s a happy ending to Bhangu’s story in Canada, but it didn’t come before he endured many difficulties.
Emergence: Out of the Shadows has been a big hit on the festival circuit since being released in 2021. It’s captured awards at the Chicago South Asian Film Festival, Vancouver South Asian Film Festival, and U.K. Asian Film Festival.
In January, Sher Vancouver announced that it will launch the Sundar Prize and Festival in June 2024. It will screen issue-oriented features, documentaries, shorts, animated films, and student productions.
The festival encourages submissions from producers and directors of films focusing on human rights, immigrants, and refugees. In addition, it welcomes movies about LGBTQ+ communities, people of colour, other marginalized people, environment and climate change, and education.
Emergence begins film journey
Emergence: Out of the Shadows is only the beginning of Sher Vancouver’s forays into the film world. This month, the registered charity announced a new partnership between Sundar and KDocsFF, which is the region’s premier social-justice documentary film festival. They are offering a four-month filmmaker’s residency in the KDocs Social Justice Lab.
“We are excited to partner with the Sundar Prize Film Festival to offer this unique opportunity to an emerging local filmmaker,” KDocsFF community outreach director Greg Chan said in a news release. “At KDocsFF, we celebrate the power of documentary film and documentary activism, and we look forward to partnering with the Sundar Prize to showcase the best films from around the world here in Surrey.”
Meanwhile, the release of the videos about Sangha, Nagra, and Bhangu comes a few days after Sher Vancouver announced its newest initiative, Pyar is Pyar peer support group in Surrey. Pyar is the word for love in many South Asian languages.
It offers a haven for queer youth of South Asian ancestry between 19 and 30 years old. The weekly meetings will be facilitated by a social worker, who will be accompanied by two social work practicum students. The gatherings will be held in Room 402 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays in Room 402 of the City Centre Branch of Surrey Libraries.
“We understand that coming out or being true to oneself can be challenging, especially for South Asian queer youth,” Sangha said in a news release. “That’s why we created this group, to provide a safe and supportive community where individuals can feel accepted and celebrated for who they are.”