Saturday October 4th, 2008 was maybe one of the last screenings of Saving Mom and Dad in the USA. I was really disappointed not to be in New York City to present the film in person, but Executive Producer Kabir Singh (also my brother) was on hand for some brief Q and A. Also, Associate Producer Rosario Palmieri and Art Director Beth Elliot were in attendance, and both saw the film for the very first time. As plans move ahead for a feature length film about Sikhs in America, this screening was auspicious. In this amazing venue and via the contacts and publicity in the Sikh community, there could be important partnerships formed thanks to this showing. As I could not be in New York, I sent my trusted friend in my place and he sent me this report.
From Festival Correspondent Dev Malhotra. I was pumped for the Sikh Film Festival. Like Kartik, I am Sikh, and I couldn’t wait to see the reactions this movie would get from a mainly Sikh audience. Though I could not make the gala on Friday evening, I accompanied Kartik’s brother Kabir throughout the Saturday festivities.
We were coming in from Brooklyn, and fearing we’d be late to present the film, we hired a car to bring us to the venue. Traffic was hectic, but we managed to get to the beautiful Asia Society building right on time. This was important, because we needed to get our passes and also give passes to two VIP’s: Saving Mom and Dad’s Associate Producer Rosario Palmieri and Art Director Beth Elliot.
Well, folks, here’s when stuff started going wrong. First, the event was running half and hour late. So much for Kabir and I killing ourselves to arrive on time. But moreover, no passes. An army of clipboard carrying volunteers, and none of them could confirm our VIP status. So we all ended up having to buy our tickets! Buying tickets to your own show is no fun. It seemed like a joke when three hours later, we were given our “all-day passes”. The damage had been done. It was so embarassing to watch Rosario and Beth fork out their eight bucks to watch a movie that they helped make!
No big deal, you may say. But this is just the prelude. The real disappointment came inside the Wallace Auditorium. From the moment the movie started, I looked over at Kabir and he looked back at me. Something was very wrong and we both knew it. The sound was completely messed up. There was a heavy echo to it and the volume was loud, but the voices barely audible. Somebody in the projection booth had not tested the movie beforehand. We wanted to alert someone, but how? We were seated right in the middle of a full row of people. What to do? Disrupt the experience, or let it painfully go on?
The bright side? Well, I got to sit next to one of the judges, a very cute but very taken twenty something actress, of Sikh origin I guess. Anyway, right when the lights came up, she took off, didn’t even stay for Q and A. I had wanted to lobby for Kartik, but before I could make a move, she was out of there.
I was feeling shy, so I let Kabir go solo on the Q and A. The audience questions were pretty standard and Kabir handled them with the ease that he always has in public and with people. But when he had answered all of two questions, he was shepherded out of the auditorium, and we were all asked to clear out so the next screening could start. It was a shame, because right when things were getting good with the Q and A, they pulled the plug! Out on Park Ave, I found Kabir and we stood looking for a cab. A few people came over and said hello, and they all had the same question: “how do you make a movie?” It’s funny. I’ll have to ask Kartik that next time I see him.
Back at Kabir’s place, we had a late lunch and a short nap, then it was back to the festival. There was an awards ceremony to go to. Even though our chances were slim, we had to go. I knew though, that the Kabbadi Cops got great response from the audience. To me, they were a shoe-in to win. The best short film prize was no laughing matter: $3,500 in cash. Kabir and I were once again greeted by chaos at the venue. While we were chatting in the hallway, the award was announced. We hadn’t gotten it. Someone from the festival reassured us that the vote was close. You never know whether to believe these kinds of statements. But that day, we decided to believe it.
It was an abyssmal showing for SMD in the Big Apple. You could say it was the exact opposite of SMD’s first New York show a year earlier at the Urbanworld Vibe. No blame here, but it was bad luck and no fun for us. In this sense, I’m glad Kartik stayed in Paris. Though he’s the ever optimist, this one was libel to bum him out for real. He was right to hang back and keep working on his next film. I guess he was wise in that way. He knew that there would be other chances to show films in New York City.
That’s all for me. I am refusing all festivals unless they are to places with warm weather. I keep asking Kartik to take me to Cannes, maybe this year, he’ll finally let me come! Until next time, over and out.