INDIANAPOLIS, July 03, 2019
NRIpress.club/Ramesh/ A.Gary Singh Grewal
Gurinder Singh Khalsa titled ‘SINGH’ has won Short of the year award at the Covellite International Film Festival in Montana.
The movie has also been chosen by Covellite International Film Festival as an official selection for the Indy Shorts International Film Festival, the largest film fest in the midwest.
Directed by Jenna Ruiz, the movie ‘SINGH’ was chosen among 100 films submitted for the award in the same category.
- Tthe story that occurred in May 2007 when Gurinder Singh Khalsa (a Sikh man who wears a turban) was not allowed to board an airline without the removal of his turban to be further inspected by TSA agents.
- Singh Khalsa was at a security checkpoint at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. He stepped through the metal detector and a “poof” machine. Despite neither detector sounding an alarm, a TSA officer asked to check Singh Khalsa’s turban. The officer acknowledged that no alarm sounded, but stated that he was concerned about Singh Khalsa’s “headwear.” Singh Khalsa was asked to remove his turban.
“It is not a cap,” explained Singh Khlasa. “You can’t take it off and on. You unwrap it and unwrapping it in public is like stripping a woman. It is one of the sacred articles of faith.”
Singh Khalsa attempted to explain to the officers the religious significance of not removing his turban, but to no avail. Singh Khalsa refused to remove his turban and eventually, airport police were summoned and threatened to arrest Singh Khalsa if he did not leave the premises. Rather than get arrested, Singh Khalsa left the airport.
“I was violated and very sad. Very sad,” Singh Khalsa said as he lowered his eyes to the ground.
While he described the encounter as “devastating,” it also invigorated something deep inside of him.
“I say someone has got to step up. That is where I mobilized. I started getting signatures, petitions. I got more than I needed. Congress, the House of Representatives, senators — they signed letters addressed to Homeland Security to change that.”
Singh Khalsa’s efforts paid off. He successfully lobbied for changes to the TSA headwear policy. Sikhs are now permitted to wear turbans, or dastaar, through airport security and TSA agents are not allowed to touch the garments. Instead, the person wearing the covering touches their own turban and then undergoes a swab test for clearance.
“That (incident) gave me strength and courage. Regardless of how smart, how big a thing is, if you stand for something, it can be done,” said Singh Khalsa.
Singh Khalsa believes unfortunate and discriminatory situations like the one he encountered happen for a reason and results in “the better good.”
The Covellite International Film Festival is an annual showcase of independent films from around the world set in Butte, Montana.
CIFF is uniquely focused on collaboration and connection. In addition to screenings, the festival features production workshops, filmmaker talks, meet-ups, and demonstrations of new media technology, all with the ultimate goal of growing and supporting the burgeoning film community in southwest Montana.
By bringing together so many different thinkers, filmmakers, activists, writers & producers from an ever-evolving spectrum of cultures, CIFF has guided a strong and diverse movement grounded in the values of hospitality and tradition.