Vishavjit Singh is publicly known for his Captain America character, a Sikh man outfitted in his turban and beard, fighting bigotry, bigotry, and perceptions of what an American should be like. But Singh, the only US-born member of his family, didn’t always feel he could embrace his identity in this way.
AMERICAN SIKH will receive its world premiere at the OSCAR-qualifying Tribeca Film Festival this June. The film was created in association with Singh as Los Angeles-based producer and director Ryan Westra. It was animated by Studio Showoff, a Melbourne-based production company founded by Ivan Dixon and Sean Zwan that has produced work for Childish Gambino, HBO, and Cartoon Network.
Director Ryan Westra has been lucky enough to capture many powerful and important stories. He has traveled rural Punjab capturing undocumented stories of a Sikh genocide, documented the struggle of indigenous peoples against oil companies in Montana, followed the HIV/AIDS outreach work of an NGO in Mozambique, edited an HBO documentary about reproductive rights, filmed the intensity of para-athletes pushing their limits, filmed content for Headspace around a Himalayan monastery about mindfulness, filmed a documentary about rehousing the most at-risk homeless in Los Angeles, and has had minor roles in Netflix and HBO series dealing with wrongful conviction and bringing cult leaders to justice.
Director/producer Vishavjit Singh is an illustrator, writer, performance artist, diversity speaker, and creator of Sikhtoons.com based in New York City. He got the spark from him to do caricatures in the post-9/11 tragedy when turbaned and bearded Americans became targets of hate/bias crimes. For the past several years, Vishavjit has been touring the US with the character of him Sikh Captain America armed with a turban, beard and humor to address fear, anxiety, bigotry and intolerance. He uses storytelling as a tool to create space for challenging conversations about identity, race, prejudice, vulnerability, and how to be agents of change. Vishavjit hosts talks and keynote addresses at schools, universities, government agencies, and businesses, including Google, Apple, NASA, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. His message and work have been covered by various media outlets, including the New York Times, NPR, BBC, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, The Guardian, and Time Magazine.
AMERICAN SIKH will be screened at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday, June 10 at 5:15 p.m., Sunday, June 11 at 2:15 p.m., and Saturday, June 17 at 12:15 p.m.
Here you have the synopsis and the trailer of the short film.
The true and unlikely story of a turban-wearing American-born Sikh man, Vishavjit Singh, who after a lifetime of facing prejudice, doubt and violence, finally finds acceptance in a superhero costume.
Trailer for Ryan Westra’s AMERICAN SIKH on Vimeo.