with WINGS and ROOTS is a documentary currently in production by filmmaker Christina Antonakos-Wallace in which she is presenting the stories of five people, living either in Berlin or New York, who come from recent immigrant communities. The film highlights the individual and collective struggles of immigrants in their societies.
Among the individuals featured in the film is Sonny Singh, a Sikh living in New York. Part of his story became the topic of the 2011 short film Article of Faith (above), a “10-minute documentary about activist Sonny Singh and his efforts to combat bias-based school bullying. As a turban-wearing Sikh, Sonny shares his own experiences with bullying and how he has transformed those experiences into motivation to fight for change.”
As part of the with WINGS and ROOTS project, Article of Faith has been used as an educational tool for Sikh awareness (I have shown this film in Sikh awareness presentations myself) and screened at various venues. It has been received very well by audiences. Another short film called Where are you from from? is also based on the with WINGS and ROOTS project.
Coming soon, Christina Antonakos-Wallace will share her thoughts about the with WINGS and ROOTS project and her film-making. In the meantime, the project is now seeking the public’s support to bring the larger documentary — including Sonny Singh’s full story — to completion. The campaign for public support was recently announced by way of the following press release:
New York, NY (June 4, 2013) – Today, the forthcoming documentary film and interactive web project with WINGS and ROOTS, directed by award-winning filmmaker Christina Antonakos-Wallace, is launching a public campaign for support. The independent film, which tells the coming of age stories of empowered and imaginative children of immigrants in New York and Berlin, has launched a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $23,000 by July 15th to offset post-production costs.
A 90-minute vérité documentary, with WINGS and ROOTS tells the stories of five children of immigrants in New York City and Berlin who are challenging boundaries and redefining belonging through their artwork and activism. These young adults, whose parents hail from Bolivia, India, Turkey, Macedonia, and Vietnam, are often considered outsiders in both mainstream society and “their own” communities. Grappling with the pressure to assimilate on one hand, and the pressure to “preserve” their cultures on the other, they forge new paths as they take the next major steps in their lives: career, marriage, children, and pursuing the right to citizenship.
Protagonists Miman, Sonny, Akim, Tania, and Derya represent voices often absent from the immigration debate. Not surprisingly, others consistently misapprehend them. Sonny, a turban-wearing Sikh, is a progressive activist and rock musician who gets harassed regularly in New York for looking like a “terrorist.” Miman, a German-born social worker, is the only member of his family open about his Roma background due to pervasive discrimination and misrepresentation. Despite her university degree and career in Berlin, Derya struggles with constantly having to prove she is “integrated” and “emancipated” as a Muslim women. Akim is a Vietnamese-German street artist whose sexuality is as fluid as his sense of home. Tania is an immigrant rights activist in New York who is open about her status as undocumented despite the risk of losing her only home. While they all have very different backgrounds, these young people face common challenges and offer their own compelling visions of belonging–of what it means to be an American and a German. Pushing against conventions and expectations, their stories echo the underrepresented voices of millions of young people on both sides of the Atlantic.
with WINGS and ROOTS crosses geographic and ethnic lines, building bridges between communities and facilitating global conversation through short and long form documentary films, workshops, and web-based tools. To date, the project has already released two award-winning short films, “Article of Faith” and “Where are you from from?”, while the feature length film and interactive website are currently in progress. The short films have screened at nearly 100 events in Europe and North America, often accompanied by workshops on bias-based bullying, immigrant rights, post-9/11 racism, and Islamophobia.
with WINGS and ROOTS was conceived, directed, and produced by Christina Antonakos-Wallace. The film has grown tremendously over the last years into a multiplatform project with a team of 20 collaborators in Germany and the US. The project has partnered with a number of organizations including the Sikh Coalition, HEART: Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers, Center for New Community, Documentation Center for Migration in Germany in Cologne, the New School Center for Migration, Ethnicity and Citizenship, UC Berkeley Multicultural Germany Center, and the Museum of Chinese Americans.
The film’s Kickstarter campaign can be found at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/299220646/with-wings-and-roots. For more information about the film and to view the trailer and short films, visit www.withwingsandroots.com.