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SF: Documentary Film on post-9/11 hate crimes screens in SF

Sunday, November 12, 2006
11:30 AM - 1:30 PM
Event Type:
Location Details:
Roxie Cinema
3117 16th Street (between Valencia and Guerrero) San Francisco, CA


SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 7 – Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath, an independent documentary film that chronicles a student's cross-country journey in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, premieres in Northern California with two screenings.

First, as part of the 3rd I South Asian International Film Festival, Divided We Fall premieres Sunday 11:30am at the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco, followed by a discussion with the filmmakers. The premiere is part of the film's national tour this fall, which continues on to Sacramento Tuesday, Nov. 14 hosted by Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante at the Secretary of State Auditorium.

Directed by Sharat Raju, Divided We Fall follows Harvard student (and California native) Valarie Kaur in the days and months after the 2001 terrorist attacks as she drove across America with a video camera, interviewing victims of hate violence. Weaving expert analysis into a personal journey and cross-country road trip, the film examines 'who counts' as American in times of crisis.

"Five years in the making, Divided We Fall invites audiences on a journey across America to experience the untold stories of 9/11," said Kaur. "The journey spirals into the larger question of who counts as 'one of us' in a world divided into 'us and them.'"

On Sept. 15, 2001, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a turbaned Sikh man, was shot and killed in Mesa, Arizona, the first of an estimated nineteen "retribution" murdered in hate violence after the attacks. Many Sikhs who wore turbans were immediately targeted in the backlash. Half a million Americans and 23 million people worldwide belong to the Sikh religion, which requires the turban as an article of faith.

This murder compelled Kaur, a third-generation Sikh American, then a junior at Stanford University, to take action. With her turbaned 18-year-old cousin as cameraman, she took to the road, documenting stories seldom seen or heard by mainstream America.

Kaur traveled through fourteen American cities, from Ground Zero in New York City to Sodhi's gas station in Arizona, and captured more than one hundred hours of interview footage. People invited her into their lives to share stories of fear and unspeakable loss, but also of resilience and hope. Her journey ended in Punjab, India, where she interviewed Sodhi's widow, Herjinder Kaur.

A second round of production in 2005, supported by a New Filmmaker Grant from Panavision Camera and a generous contribution from Eastman Kodak, added interviews with noted scholars, professors, lawmakers, and policy experts who provide context and analysis to the original stories Kaur gathered in 2001. Divided We Fall made its world premiere on September 14, 2006, the eve of the five-year memorial of Sodhi's death.

Kaur currently studies ethics as a master's candidate at Harvard Divinity School, where she is the founding director of the Discrimination and National Security Initiative, an affiliate of the Harvard Pluralism Project.

"Terrorism and critical moments in the war on terror trigger hate violence at home," Kaur said. "If we can embrace all differences into the American mosaic and recognize Sikh and Muslim faces as 'American', then we can curb the fear and violence that divides our nation in times of crisis and stand truly united."

Raju, an award-winning filmmaker and recent graduate of the American Film Institute Conservatory, teamed up with Kaur to present the first full-length documentary film addressing hate crimes in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

"In the months after Sept. 11, the phrase 'United We Stand' was on bumper stickers and signs all across the country," Raju said. "But the phrase has a second part – 'Divided We Fall.' There's a bigger picture, and we must strive to bridge the divisions between us in order for those words to be more than just a slogan. We hope our film is one more step in that direction."

For more information, see the official film site:

Press kit available here:
Added to the calendar on Tue, Nov 7, 2006 1:09PM
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