489: “Ocean of Pearls,” a Sikh “first” —and a movie you don’t want to miss

Despite the tough financial times and anxious news from global hot spots—the truth is this: We’re living in a remarkable era of cross-cultural inspiration.
    In coming weeks, if you live in Michigan, the Bay Area in California—or Chicago in mid September—make time to go see a spiritual “first” in media. “Ocean of Pearls” is opening in a handful of theaters nationwide. It’s the first major American-Sikh-produced feature film.
    And this movie is gooood. It’s moving. It’s beautifully photographed. It’s a great drama, partly because it’s such uncharted territory in storytelling.
    In taking us into these intimate places we’ve never been before—“Ocean of Pearls” becomes exceptionally rare.

    We can tell we’re headed into new realms from the moments the titles begin to flash on the screen. Beneath those titles, we watch a young Sikh doctor carefully preparing his religiously distinctive long hair—combing it and winding it to fit precisely beneath a Sikh turban.
    The film tells a bittersweet—and ultimately an inspiring—tale. The story is fiction, but the truths on screen are real—and surprisingly universal.
    In the opening sequence after the titles, the young doctor addresses us in a voice-over narration, welcoming us into his family’s saga.
    He asks us a series of spiritual questions we all can appreciate: “Did you ever think about how random life is? Of all the people—why were you born to your parents? Of all the places—why were you born in your country? In your city?
    “My girlfriend and I—our parents came to Toronto in the 1960s—a new country, a new life. The one thing I never understood? Why would someone work so hard to come to a new world—just to keep living in an old one?”

    Then, he talks about the turban that becomes such a crucial symbol throughout the movie. He says: “To my father, the turban is an article of faith. To me, it means I better make damned sure I’m not late for my flight.”
    Sure enough! The next scene is a harrowing experience in an airport security-check line, where … Well, you probably can guess: The heroic young physician falls into a Kafkaesque nightmare of suspicion and delay, all because of his turban.
    That’s not the biggest problem he faces. As he moves further into his career as a top transplant surgeon, the turban becomes an even bigger barrier. I won’t spoil the story with too many details.
    But, I can tell you this: As a journalist who has covered cross-cultural issues in America for decades, I’ve seen many attempts by minority artists to create multimedia windows into their worlds. Sometimes, these “firsts” involve music festivals, documentary films, theatrical productions—even dance.
    But, I can’t recall a “first” feature film so stellar—so professionally polished and personally engaging—from start to finish.
    If you live within driving distance of one of the early cities showing “Ocean of Pearls”—make the drive to go see it. This is a rare opportunity to enter a whole new world. How can you pass up such an opportunity?


Click here to jump to the Ocean of Pearls Web site and watch a 2-minute preview of the film.

    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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