American Sikh: A Short Animated Film

A project of SALDEF
Blerdcon.jpg Vishavjit Singh
Washington, Washington D.C., US
$69,172pledged of $75,000 goal
$69,172goal: $75,000
Yes tax deductible
0days to go
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Vishavjit Singh is a former Media Fellow at SALDEF. Given this connection and the huge potential impact of this project SALDEF is thrilled to support this animation film as an Associate Producer and acting as a fiscal sponsor for this fundraising drive on DVN. Sikhlens and UNITED SIKHS are serving as Executive Producers highlighting the broad community excitement and commitment for this project.

This short animated film tells the life story of Vishavjit Singh, who after a lifetime of facing prejudice, self-doubt and violence, finally finds acceptance by becoming the superhero Sikh Captain America.

The goal of the project is to create the most powerful and successful short film ever made about an American Sikh story - and by doing so teach millions of Americans about Sikhism as well as 1984 and the post-9/11 intolerance that exists against Sikhs. Given the importance and beauty of the story, we believe the film has the potential of playing at top film festivals and winning an Oscar in the category of animated short. 


Vishavjit Singh became a cartoonist in the aftermath of the tragedy of 9/11, creating cartoons about Sikhs and Sikh issues. In 2011, one such "Sikhtoon" was an illustration of Captain America with a turban and beard who fights intolerance. Eventually, the success of this particular Sikhtoon inspired Vishavjit to dress up as Sikh Captain America, and challenge perceptions of what an American can look like head-on. He has traveled around the US hosting storytelling sessions in schools, libraries, companies, government agencies using Sikhtoons and his story to communicate ideas about diversity and inclusion.

As part of this journey, Vishavjit worked on a film with Ryan Westra in 2014 called  ‘Red, White & Beard’. It was released in 2015 and garnered international media attention, including being shown on CNN and being featured on the Huffington Post front page. Given the success of Red, White & Beard, Ryan approached Vishavjit to once again make a film together - this time telling his full life story in animation. 


Why this film matters:

Outside of India, there are very few Sikhs seen in media. Due to the lack of representation and the statistically small global population of Sikhs as a whole, the vast majority of Americans and the world at large know almost nothing about Sikhs. Lack of knowledge is not only an education and awareness issue, but historically is the root of many issues such as xenophobia, intolerance, racism and violent hate crimes. According to the latest information from the FBI, Sikhs are statistically more likely to victimized by hate crime than any other demographic.

What little knowledge people may have about Sikhs most often boils down to two things: a turban and a beard. It’s no secret that this surface-level in Western media is often depicted in films as the villain or the clown. This is the image that needs to be transformed - and that’s exactly what Sikh Captain America, Vishavjit Singh, has set out to do.

Sikh Captain America is changing the narrative on Sikhs (and anyone else who may not look “traditionally American”) — creating a new American hero that challenges societal expectations and norms. This film also follows his journey of accepting his own identity.

Although Sikhs have made immense progress in public-facing jobs, there is still so much work to be done. It’s important to fight for more accurate, prominent and positive representation in media and in doing so create a more poignant, relatable and expansive space for Sikhs in the world.

People have grown up idolizing superheroes for decades. Sikh Captain America may not fight evil monsters, but he takes on hate and intolerance that are sadly still very much part of our contemporary society. That’s why an animated documentary, much like the superhero cartoons we’ve all grown up watching, is such a unique way to raise awareness about Sikhs domestically and internationally in a style that people of all cultures and ages can enjoy.

Media Coverage:

We're excited to share that recently the film was written up and published in The Washington Post. You can read the article here

Our Funding Goals:

Our goal is to raise $155k for this project. $120k of the budget will go towards animation, while the remaining $35k will go towards all other expenses including sound design, original music, legal fees, marketing and more. 

We have reached 2/3rd's of our goal with the support of over 550 backers. 

Custom Movie Poster:

Poster featuring our main character and two previous donors.

Meet The Team:

Vishavjit Singh - Superhero and Producer

Vishavjit is a New York City based illustrator, performance artist, speaker and creator of He got his spark for cartooning in the post 9/11 tragedy when Americans with turbaned and bearded countenance became targets of hate/bias crimes.

For the past few years he has been traveling across the US with his Captain America persona armed with turban, beard and humor to tackle fear, anxiety, bigotry and intolerance. He hosts talks & keynotes on diversity, inclusion, implicit bias, vulnerability & vulnerability in schools, universities, government agencies and companies including Google, Apple, NASA, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus & NYC Department of Health. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic he has been working with the city of NYC and a local NGO UNITED SIKHS on COVID-19 suppression and relief efforts. His work has been covered by a number of news outlets, including the New York Times, NPR, BBC, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, The Guardian and Time Magazine.

Ryan Westra - Director

Ryan Westra is Los Angeles-based director and cinematographer of documentary and commercial content. Ryan has worked with HBO Documentary Films, Verizon Wireless, Dreamworks, the Atlantic, the BBC, the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, Panorama Music Festival, and has had his work featured on FunnyOrDie, Upworthy, The Huffington Post, and the BBC. Above all else, Ryan is passionate about telling compelling stories that can change the world for the better.

Director's Note:

“This will be my 6th documentary about Sikhs and Sikh issues. The other short films were documentaries about Operation Blue Star, ENSAAF and the decade of disappearances, a spinal hospital in Delhi, Sikhs who serve in the American military, as well as another film about Vishavjit called “Red, White, and Beard”. Of these five films, the one that received the most attention and success by far was “Red, White, and Beard” in 2014. Additionally, it was one of the most successful films to ever come out of Chapman University through Sikhlens. It’s clear that the story and image of Sikh Captain America is compelling to a broad audience and is a an entertaining and exciting medium to educate people about Sikhism and Sikh issues. That’s why, since 2014, I’ve been planning on making a second film with Vishavjit, one that would be a more in-depth telling of his story. I believe that this short animation will be the most successful film ever made about an American Sikh and will raise awareness about Sikhs and Sikh issues in the United States and Internationally.”

Studio Showoff - Animation Studio

Sean has directed over 20 hours of television and produced four long form television series for clients such as the BBC, Warner Bros, ABC and Channel Seven. He has also directed music videos for artists like Elton John and ad campaigns for clients such as TWITCH and HBO. He is a strong believer in board-driven story development and is dedicated to building a collaborative studio environment. Sean just recently finished directing and voice acting on the Cartoon Network series 'Monster Beach'.

Ivan has eleven years in the animation industry and has produced content for a variety of clients including music videos form Childish Gambino, Elton John and Gotye, series work for Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, Warner Bros., idents for [adult swim], 2D segments for Fallout 4 and Wolfenstein 2 and recently an adult series for WB/ABC called Ginger Snaps. Ivan co-directed the pixelated title sequence for The Simpsons, Rick & Morty and Adventure Time. Currently Ivan has an adult series in development with US streaming service Hulu called Muscles McQuack.



With your help, we believe we can achieve our goal of making the most successful film ever made about an American Sikh story. Thanks so much! 


American Sikh Social Accounts:


Instagram: @americansikhfilm

Twitter: @americansikhflm


TikTok: @americansikhfilm


Organizational Producer Web Links:

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund



  • 11/01/2023

    American Sikh Festival Success + More

    Hello to all our incredible donors! Thanks so much again for your support of American Sikh. 

    We want to share how humbled we are to have had such an incredible year of festivals. Following our Tribeca World Premiere, American Sikh continued to play at festivals across the country and one festival in New Zealand. Recently, American Sikh won Best Animated Short at the San Diego International Film Festival, Best Animated Short at the Sidewalk Film Festival, Best Short Documentary and Best Audience Choice Awards at Tasveer Film Festival, as well as honorable mention awards at Tallgrass Film Festival, and Chicago International Film Festival. 

    A big thank you and congratulations to you for your support of this groundbreaking  adventure. Wishing our team more success as we embark on the Oscar Shortlist Campaign for the Best Animated Short!

  • 05/01/2023

    American Sikh Tickets On SALE: Buy Now!

    Tickets go on sale at 8AM PST/11AM EST tomorrow morning! Space is very limited so please act quickly to purchase tickets if you’re planning on coming.

    Click on this Link to purchase tickets. 

    AMERICAN SIKH Screenings:
    06/10/2023, 5:15 PM EST at AMC-01 - Premiere (with Whoopi Goldberg Q&A )
    06/11/2023, 2:15 PM EST at AMC-01 - 2nd Screening (with Q&A)
    06/17/2023, 12:15 PM EST at AMC-05 - 3rd Screening (with Q&A)

    Address: AMC 19th Street East 6 (890 Broadway)

    Use the code ARTIST23 for 20% off all ticket purchases. Each screening requires its own ticket so if you plan on attending multiple, please make sure to buy separate screening tickets. 

    Tickets WILL SELL OUT -- there is only a capacity of 80-90 people per screening so please be on the ticketing website as soon as they are released to secure your spot. 

    If you'd like to post about the film on your socials, you're welcome to use the attached images above and tag @americansikhfilm

    Thank you, excited to see you in NYC!

  • 04/25/2023

    American Sikh World Premiere at Tribeca Festival

    We did it!

    It is our great privilege to announce that AMERICAN SIKH will have its world premiere at The Tribeca Festival this June! 

    Watch our announcement video at this link on vimeo.

    We are absolutely honored to be a part of The Tribeca Festival, one of the most respected and influential festivals in the world. This will be the first time ever that a film featuring an American Sikh story will premiere at a top film festival. 

    Screening Information:

    June 10th at 5:15pm (followed by Q&A with Whoopi Goldberg)

    June 11th at 2:15pm (followed by Q&A)

    June 17th at 12:15pm (followed by Q&A)

    Tickets go on sale Tuesday, May 2nd at 11am EST/8am PST at American Sikh | 2023 Tribeca Festival Webpage.

    Please make sure to get your tickets ASAP. The screenings will sell out as space is very limited. Use code ARTIST23 for 20% off ticket purchases. 

    Thank you again for all of your support, this would not have been possible without you. We look forward to sharing more exciting updates with you soon. AMERICAN SIKH will likely premiere at several more film festivals this year in North America and Internationally and will likely be released publicly early next year. 

    Please share the good news on your social media channels celebrating your support and tag @americansikhfilm @tribeca #Tribeca2023

    Thank You/Meharbaani
    Ryan and Vishavjit

  • 08/29/2022

    American Sikh Submitted to Multiple Festivals

    Vaahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa
    Vaahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh

    Dear Donor,

    We are pleased to announce that American Sikh animated short film which was completed earlier this month, has been submitted to 6 film festivals. 

    We will continue submitting to festivals in the coming months across North America and Europe. If accepted, we will premiere the the short film sometime in early 2023 and continue to have it screened thorughout 2023.

    We were able to do this with your generous support. We are very thankful to you for sharing your trust and vision for this project.

    We hope to come back with celebratory updates in the coming months. 

    Vishavjit Singh & Ryan Westra



  • 01/27/2022

    American Sikh Animation Update

    Me at a So. California Beach after High School

    Dear Donor,

    We ended 2021 with success thanks to your support. We were able to raise all the funds for making American Sikh, first short animated feature with a Sikh hero on the American stage a reality.

    Now we are working on setting the stage to finish the animation work which is the most engaging and exciting part of this project.

    Ryan Westra, director of the film and Studio Showoff based in Australia are working with me to finalize the character design for the film. It is exciting team work with constant back and forth to get as many details incorporated into the template before the intense work of animating this story to life gets into gear.

    I share with you just a few samples of images as evidence of the ongoing character evolution work.

    Me as a young boy

    As a young adult

    My Captain America alter-ego

    We have a team of over 12 animators that will be spending the next few weeks to put finishing touches to the film. It is time consuming labor of love.

    By April we will have the film ready for first submissions to top tier film festivals.

    Your support has made this possible and we are excited to share the release and success of this film in the coming months with you.

    Stay tuned for more updates!

    A big thanks to you for being part of our team.

    Vishavjit Singh

Name Donation Date
Adam Weimann $10.00 January 2022
A. S. $500.00 December 2021
Permjit Sran-Bhakta $50.00 December 2021
DAF DVN Administrator $1,000.00 December 2021
Ashley Epting $10,000.00 December 2021
Bicky Singh $10,000.00 November 2021
Punjabi American Heritage Society Yuba City $2,850.00 November 2021
Tejpaul Ghumman $2,000.00 November 2021
Vikram Singh $50.00 November 2021
Daljeet Dhillon $50.00 November 2021
Maneetpaul Singh $500.00 November 2021
Match Fund $400.00 November 2021
Angad Pal Singh $500.00 November 2021
Match Fund $400.00 November 2021
P. S. $400.00 November 2021
Match Fund $200.00 November 2021
Harjap Singh $200.00 November 2021
Match Fund $400.00 November 2021
Arvind Singh $50.00 November 2021
Match Fund $100.00 November 2021
Anonymous $100.00 November 2021
Harshi Bains $2,000.00 November 2021
harvinder singh $100.00 November 2021
Match Fund $2,688.00 November 2021
Anonymous $10,000.00 November 2021
Match Fund $1,000.00 November 2021
D. K. $1,000.00 November 2021
Match Fund $1,000.00 October 2021
Jaspreet Kaur $1,000.00 October 2021
Match Fund $200.00 October 2021
H. K. $200.00 October 2021
Match Fund $251.00 October 2021
J. K. $251.00 October 2021
Match Fund $200.00 October 2021
J. B. $200.00 October 2021
Match Fund $2,000.00 October 2021
Gurinder Singh $2,000.00 October 2021
Match Fund $50.00 October 2021
Anonymous $50.00 October 2021
Match Fund $200.00 October 2021
S. H. $200.00 October 2021
Match Fund $10.00 October 2021
P. K. $10.00 October 2021
Match Fund $100.00 October 2021
Ezra Nepon $100.00 October 2021
Match Fund $251.00 October 2021
Harprit Sehra $251.00 October 2021
Match Fund $300.00 October 2021
Sarabjeet Bhutani $300.00 October 2021
Match Fund $600.00 October 2021
Parminder Singh $600.00 October 2021
Match Fund $500.00 October 2021
K. C. $500.00 October 2021
Match Fund $2,000.00 October 2021
Raveena Rihal $2,000.00 October 2021
Match Fund $100.00 October 2021
U. S. $100.00 October 2021
Match Fund $500.00 October 2021
Gurmeet Saluja $500.00 October 2021
Match Fund $2,000.00 October 2021
James Cole $2,000.00 October 2021
Match Fund $1,000.00 October 2021
P. D. $1,000.00 October 2021
Match Fund $20.00 October 2021
Prabjot Kalsi $20.00 October 2021
Match Fund $20.00 October 2021
A. C. $20.00 October 2021
Match Fund $10.00 September 2021
Mandeep Singh $10.00 September 2021

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