There is nothing more satisfying in life than seeing the next generation mature into people you can be proud of. I am fortunate in that I know a whole bunch of them. Each of these youngsters deserve to have their story told. But today, I am going to tell you the story of just one of them – Amar Wala. Read on and discover why I have chosen to call his story The Good Son and his Secret Trial.
I have known Amar since he was but a baby.
Even as a young child, it was evident that Amar was a deep thinker and sensitive at that.
Amar went off to Canada when he 11, as his family migrated. Separated by several oceans, I missed the finer details of Amar’s coming of age. For instance, I have no clue as to when and how he developed an interest in films. I can only guess that his interest was indirectly influenced by his father who has two great passions in life – cricket and movies.
Be that as it may, Amar pursued his interest in films, obtaining a degree in Film Production from York University, Toronto.
The first I heard that Amar was hoping to make a career in films was when his proud parents told us that a short film he had made, The Good Son (2007), was creating waves. The film eventually had its world premiere at The 4th Annual Dubai International Film Festival, and went on to screen at festivals around the world and win several awards in Canada.
But that achievement is not the point of Amar’s life story thus far. No, the import of the story lies elsewhere.
When did Amar develop an interest in the plight of innocent Muslims coming under arbit suspicion post 9/11?
I have no idea.
Was it when his compassion and sense of injustice was aroused after hearing the story of how a young Egyptian refugee was asked to translate for his father as CSIS (Canadian Securities and Intelligence Services) officers questioned him in his own home?
Did his indignation and outrage grow as he pieced together the stories of five Muslim men detained, for nearly 30 years combined, through the use of Canada’s infamous security certificates?
I don’t know.
What I do know is this. Amar’s anguish over the issue led to his devoting over 4 years of his life to make his first feature film – The Secret Trial 5. You see, it took that much time because it took Amar an awfully long while to figure out how he could raise the money to make the film.
But he never gave up. In spite of all the anguish over the issue and over not being able to get the film he had in mind going.
He was just so determined. To make the film and raise public awareness of the injustice being done to 5 Muslim men and their families in Canada.
He was just so worked up and passionate about raising questions on the very existence of a draconian Canadian instrument known as the Security Certificate. In a purported land of freedom, justice and democracy!
At one point in time, when Amar was struggling to get his film off the ground, I voiced concern to his dad that maybe Amar was getting too obsessed and derailing his whole life. I also remember expressing worry that Amar, too, would come under scrutiny in a world atmosphere clouded by suspicion. Never mind that the family was not Muslim and did not follow any particular religion.
Then there was the anxiety of a child feeling the sting of defeat and despondency if he failed in an endeavour that had grown so close to his heart.
That’s right. Children may scoff. But the generation above them in the ladder of life? They worry. Oh, they worry… about a whole bunch of things.
But when a child like Amar makes up his mind to pursue something? Well, all that can be done is to wait, watch and hope that all would be well.
As it turned out, things turned out more than well.
The Secret Trial 5 finally got off the ground through crowdfunding. The filmmakers – Amar Wala, Noah Bingham, Madeleine Cohen, Darby MacInnis, Julian Brown, Jeff Morrow – reached out to Canadians and raised nearly $50,000 through two campaigns before being selected as recipients of Telefilm Canada’s inaugural Micro-Budget Program.
So, Amar’s dream did not stay stillborn. On the contrary. It took flight. Across Canada. With an extremely successful festival run. Not to mention the 2014 Magnus Isacsson Award, as well as a jury nod in the Emerging Filmmaker category at Hot Docs.
And oh, did I mention that The Secret Trial 5 has just finished a successful cross-country screening tour in Canada? That, by the way, included the film touring all on its own, interacting with Air Canada passengers through in-flight screens.
A film was made. And… a debate has been sparked off on the balance between human rights and national security in Canada.
It’s what Amar hoped for, dreamt of, worked for.
To quote him, “I made this film because as a Canadian, I find the existence of security certificates deeply troubling. They are contrary to our values as a fair and democratic society. I cannot claim that the subjects of my film are innocent. The truth is, I simply don’t know. What I do know is that after 15 years under a security certificate, Mr. Jaballah is still living under house arrest in Toronto, never having been charged with a crime. The young Ahmad is now a dad himself, and yet we still don’t know exactly what his father is accused of. This is a conversation we as Canadians need to have with ourselves. Are we willing to sacrifice the fundamental tenets of justice – the right to a fair trial, and the right to know the case against you – in the name of national security? I hope The Secret Trial 5 can help spark that conversation.”
By writing this post, there are two conversations I hope to spark off.
One, on two films – The Good Son and The Secret Trial 5.
And the second on The Good Son and his Secret Trial.
Thank you for reading this post. Do check the links below for more information on Amar’s films. Also, if you enjoyed the read and found value, may I request that you share the post with your networks? Perhaps you would also like to subscribe to my blog site? Or connect with me via LinkedIn or Twitter where I regularly publish my posts on my feed?
#ST5film #freedom #justice #liberty #Parenting #Parenthood #Success #Successfactors
Featured Image: Amar Wala – The Good Son and his Secret Trial (Courtesy: Amar Wala).
The Good Son (2007) – https://vimeo.com/15005276
The Secret Trial 5 http://archive.secrettrial5.com/film
Simon Houpt. The Secret Trial 5 explores story of five men held without trial in Canada. April 25, 2014. The Globe and Mail – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/film/the-secret-trial-5-explores-story-of-five-men-held-without-trial-in-canada/article18213494/