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Movies ‘My Dear Americans’ Up For PBS People’s Choice Award

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Movies ‘My Dear Americans’ Up For PBS People’s Choice Award


May 11, 2010
Ancient Greece
San Leandro, Calif. — A powerful short (and mostly silent) film about one Indian woman’s reaction to racism on the July 4 holiday is an official selection for the PBS Online Film Festival, and is a contender for the PBS People’s Choice Awards. Viewers can vote for the film online through July 31.

Arpita Kumar’s “My Dear Americans” runs only six minutes, but it potently conveys the courage of a Sikh woman who encounters a shocking act of racism in her first days as an American immigrant. Ansuya Nathan and Gugun Singh star.

Kumar’s decision to keep dialogue to a bare minimum was a conscious one, she explained to India-West in an e-mail.

“As I settled on [the lead character] being a Sikh woman from rural Punjab who comes to the U.S. for the first time, I tried to envision and hear what U.S. will look and sound to her,” she said.

“How she’ll retreat inwards in an unfamiliar environment, not speaking much English … how American silences — such as the emptiness of suburbia — will be amplified and even unbearable for someone used to the lilting noise of India.”

Kumar teaches the history and culture of film and television at Gavilan College in Gilroy, Calif., and she holds an MFA in film and video from the California Institute of the Arts, a master’s degree in comparative literature from the University of Iowa and a BA in film and literature from Hampshire College.
Like many Indian Americans, Kumar has had experiences with racism. But, as she explains, “What inspired the conflict in the film was the Sikh Gurudwara shooting in a Milwaukee suburb in August, 2012. The white supremacist perpetrator associated the Sikhs with Osama Bin Laden, and it shocked me that there was such ignorance about the Sikh community still.”

The filmmaker works with producing partner Vineet Khosla under the banner Arpita Kumar Talkies. Kumar’s films have screened at numerous South Asian and mainstream leading film festivals.

“The online platform of PBS is an excellent opportunity to reach out to a bigger audience, especially South Asian,” Kumar said.


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