On Sunday afternoon a handful ofÂ community leaders and curious onlookers gathered at the Rio Theatre on East Broadway for an advance screening of a documentary on Indo-Canadian gang violence.
“A Warrior’s Religion,” by local filmmaker Mani Amar, explores the growing problem of gang violence in Greater Vancouver’s Indo-Canadian community.
Amar spoke to relatives of gang victims, community leaders, Sikh temple elders, local MLAs and police officers, as well as former gang members who have left the lifestyle — including one man who was left blind and paralyzed after being shot in the face.
Amar produced the film almost entirely by himself over three years, financing it with $56,000 of his own money. He was on hand before and after the film to speak about his experiences documenting gang life, as well as to answer questions.
“A lot of people ask me why I’m doing this, and the simple reason is because someone had to,” he said.
In the audience was Eileen Mohan, mother of Chris Mohan, who was gunned down by gang members in 2007.
Mohan also appeared in the film, which consisted largely of interviews with people from different levels in society and different opinions on what to do about gang violence. Later, she spoke to the audience about her loss. “We will never be able to eliminate gangs…but with better education, we can control them.”
After her son died, Mohan said, she went from 115 to 95 pounds.
A short question-and-answer session followed the screening. The first audience question wasÂ about how no one in the film took responsibility for dealing with gangs. Amar explained that the lack of responsibility at any level of society was one of the underlying themes of the film.
Amar was also asked about any personal changes he went through while producing the documentary. “When it stopped being a documentary for me was when I interviewed Eileen Mohan,” he said. In one scene, Mohan held a bag which held the urn for her son’s ashes. “This is what a six-foot guy is reduced to…a case like this.”
Amar said it took him two weeks to edit the footage of her.
“A Warrior’s Religion” will have its public premiere screenings March 18 and 19 at the Bell Centre in Surrey.