Kids Corner


Reimagine Belonging:
with WINGS and ROOTS,
a Film





Job-snatcher. Terrorist. Illegal. Foreign. Exotic.

These taunts and sentiments are familiar to the five children of immigrants -- including one Sikh -- featured in the forthcoming 90-min documentary "with WINGS and ROOTS".


Set in New York and Berlin, two global migration cities, the film tells the stories of Sonny, Miman, Akim, Tania, and Derya -- voices all but absent from the mainstream media in Europe and the United States.


These young adults whose parents hail from India, Bolivia, Turkey, Macedonia, and Vietnam, respectively, are often considered outsiders in both mainstream society and heir "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 through their art and activism as they take the next major steps in their lives: career, marriage, children, and pursuing the right to citizenship.


While they 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 or a German.  


Sonny Singh, a turban-wearing Sikh-American, 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 woman.


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.


Last week, the independent film makers behind this venture launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $23,000 by July 15, 2013. 


The film’s director, Christina Antonakos-Wallace, had earlier portrayed a part of Sonny Singh’s story in her 2012 short film, Article of Faith, which received the Media that Matters Festival’s "Change Maker" Award in the US and has been screened over 100 times in classrooms.


Article of Faith (which you can watch in its entirety - please see below) tells the story of Sonny’s struggles being harassed as a child and an adult because of his Sikh identity. It showcases how he has turned these struggles into activism and advocacy around bullying in schools as a community organizer with the Sikh Coalition, a community advocacy group. The moving 10-minute short is an intimate portrayal of Sonny’s struggles as well as an inspiring call to action, as we watch Sikh youth speak out against bullying and bigotry, ultimately leading to policy changes in New York City’s public school district of 1.1 million students.


The feature film, "with WINGS and ROOTS", will go much deeper into Sonny’s story as well as the four other protagonists of diverse backgrounds.


Sonny Singh is also a professional musician and a member of the popular bhangra-funk band, Red Baraat. His Sikh identity has inspired a great deal of his activist and musical work, and so this film’s representation of a creative, outspoken, and proud Sikh-American who is taking a nontraditional path is compelling.


"with WINGS and ROOTS" brings together Sonny’s struggle with post-9/11 racism, an experience so commonly shared by many in the Sikh-American community, and in other marginalized immigrant communities. The stories are bound to resonate with a wide audience in Europe and the United States.


"with WINGS and ROOTS" was conceived, directed, and produced by Christina Antonakos-Wallace, who grew up as a Greek-American.


This film project has grown tremendously over the last years into a multiplatform project with a team of 20 collaborators in Germany and the US. They are also currently building a cutting-edge interactive website, “,” which will focus on identity and immigration issues on the continents.


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, Korientation, and others.


The film’s Kickstarter campaign can be found at:

For more information about the film and to view the trailer and short films, visit

To view the 2012 film "Article of Faith", please CLICK here.


June 12, 2013

Conversation about this article

Comment on "Reimagine Belonging:
with WINGS and ROOTS,
a Film"

To help us distinguish between comments submitted by individuals and those automatically entered by software robots, please complete the following.

Please note: your email address will not be shown on the site, this is for contact and follow-up purposes only. All information will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy. Sikhchic reserves the right to edit or remove content at any time.