Short film “My Dear American,” : Based on Sikh immigrant couple holidays in America

The short film “My Dear American,” looks at how a Sikh immigrant couple spend their Fourth of July. Tejpreet Kaur Singh, is loath to embrace their new American home, while her husband proudly dally his new American identity.

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The plot of the film is simple: a young Sikh immigrant couple goes to Costco to prepare for their Fourth of July barbeque when they come face-to-face with a neighborhood hate crime.

But the film explores issues that highlight what it means to be American, and they’re complex. For example, the husband in the film — a jolly man sporting a beard and turban — is gung-ho about living in the US. In a T-shirt plastered with an American flag, he literally wears his patriotism on his chest.

Kumar says the film was prompted by the 2012 Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin, in which a white supremacist opened fire in a Gurdwara, a Sikh place of worship. The shooter killed six people in the temple.

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Kumar came to the United States more than 11 years ago for college. “I was more aligned with the husband character,” she remembers. “I was really enthusiastic. The night before I came to the US, I couldn’t even sleep, I was so excited about it.”

“They took us to Target, and I’m from a small part of India  and I had never been to such a huge supermarket. The fluorescent lights and the variety and the choices —  I didn’t know how to navigate it,” Kumar says. “It was really overwhelming and I think it was the first terrifying moment of my life.”

In the film, the characters goes to Costco and feel a similar way, ambushed by the fluorescent lights and overwhelming variety of food. From the wife’s point of view, the room was spinning.

At her own first Fourth of July celebration, Kumar remembers being in New York City with a friend. “I was talking to her, and suddenly she turns me around because my back was towards the fireworks,” she say. “And I see the whole sky explode into amazing fireworks and it blew my mind.

The fireworks reminded Kumar of a holiday back home. “In India we have Diwali, which is a Hindu festival of lights in which we have fireworks,” she says. “So for the next two years I wished everybody a Happy Diwali on the Fourth of July because, for me, it was just like Diwali.”

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