Remember 9-15-01

These last few days I’ve been trying to edit two things at once. Predictably, I have been doing a mediocre job on both.

During half the day, I’d edit the fine cut of our Yale Visual Law Project film The Worst of the Worst on VLP’s Final Cut Pro X, while Jonathan Smith would work on the footage we shot in Oak Creek, helping us put together a short piece.

Then, I would pick up on the Oak Creek footage on our Avid Media Composer 5. I’m not writing this to show off that I know how to use both major editing systems (okay, maybe a little), but I’m just pointing out how it’s sort of not a good idea to do this. I ultimately didn’t get as much done as I would’ve liked, but we didn’t really have  choice.

First, for WOTW, we are racing to submit (tonight, in fact) to Sundance. We’re still not totally finished, but we finally have some animation in it, courtesy of long-time collaborator Chuck Dulin and a new one Laney Wunderli. As I write this, we’re putting some finishing touches before we output and upload to Withoutabox for the Sundance submission. (Sidenote: I have never once had a non-stressful outputting of a film. NEVER.)

Second, for Oak Creek, we learned that the US Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is holding a historic hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee about domestic terrorism and hate crimes – and members of the Oak Creek Sikh community will be testifying. So, we are using that (which is this Wednesday) as a deadline to put together a clip from what we’ve shot. Jonathan’s done an amazing job with his half of it. I’m hoping to finish up a rough cut of something very soon, if not tomorrow. Also, I’m getting on a plane to join Valarie in Milwaukee to film 18-year-old Harpreet as he prepares to testify and then to Washington, DC for the hearing itself.

Let’s look at this for a moment. It’s 2012 and we’re having a hearing on hate crimes in America after a shooting at a Sikh house of worship.

Eleven years ago, this past Saturday on 9/15, marks eleven years since the murder of Balbir Singh Sodhi, the first man killed as “retribution” for 9/11 at his gas station in Mesa, Arizona. Sodhi’s murder and the waves of hate violence post Sept. 11th is the subject of our film, Divided We Fall.

I’ve written about this in previous posts, but I can’t believe this is where we are in 2012. I never thought that eleven years later, after the changing face of America and of the great work done by our colleagues at the Sikh Coalition and SALDEF and others to educate folks about Sikhs and Sikh Americans, that we’d be now going to the Senate for a hearing. Where was this 10 or 11 years ago? There was a Congressional resolution condemning hate crimes post 9/11 in the month afterwards (also sponsored by Sen. Durbin) but it was largely symbolic. A hearing then would’ve been incredibly helpful – who knows what it could’ve done, but it could have saved lives, as far as I’m concerned.

And I can’t believe we’re going to testify after a massacre that happened at a gurdwara. It’s still hard to comprehend.

On this 11th anniversary of 9/15/01, in the house of the American people, we’re going to honor those lost last month,  those lost over the years, and on that Saturday in September in Mesa. Hopefully things will begin to change – again.


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