Kira Pooni, Baljit Sangra, Salakshana Pooni, Jeeti Pooni and the Williams Lake Film Club’s Patricia Weber prepare for the viewing of Because We are Girls in Williams Lake at Paradise Cinemas. (Greg Sabatino photos)

VIDEO: Sold out crowd for Because We Are Girls premiere in Williams Lake

“It’s astounding to be in our own community and be able to experience what we’re experiencing today.”

It was an emotional, uplifting and inspirational afternoon Sunday in the lakecity when three Williams Lake sisters returned home to premieree their documentary about sexual abuse: Because We Are Girls.

Directed by Baljit Sangra, the film follows documentary subjects Jeeti, Kira and Salakshana Pooni, and their family, in their empowering, feminist, cinematic and hopeful story that shows the impact of sexual violence, which happened to the sisters at the hands of a cousin while they were growing up as young children in a strict South Asian immigrant family in Williams Lake.

Shot in Williams Lake and Surrey, the film also bears witness to the lengthy, emotional toll of pursuing justice, years later, through the courts for victims of domestic and sexual violence.

The Williams Lake premiere of Because We Are Girls was made possible through a collaboration between the National Film Board of Canada, the Williams Lake Film Club and Paradise Cinemas.

Paradise Cinemas owner David Hothi donated the screening fees, while the Williams Lake Film Club donated all of the proceeds from ticket sales to Chiwid Transition House in Williams Lake. The Women’s Contact Society also had staff available during the afternoon to provide resources, and to offer help, to anyone who needed it.

READ MORE: Shattering cultural stigmas: Three Punjabi-Canadian sisters tell their story of sexual violence

“There was a great interest to bring the film here to Williams Lake,” Hothi said, who was blown away by the community response as documentary-goers lined up down Fourth Avenue to take in the film. “The girls and the film club have done an outstanding job promoting it, and what a great reception this is.”

The screening was so well received, in fact, that after selling out its large theatre, Hothi made the decision to open another theatre at Paradise Cinemas, which also sold out.

“It’s absolutely fabulous,” Jeeti told the Tribune on witnessing the community’s welcoming response to the film. “It’s astounding to be in our own community and be able to experience what we’re experiencing today. Thanks to the NFB and the film club, our director and all the folks that came out.”

Prior to the start of the film the sisters told the Tribune how proud they were to be able to show the documentary in their former hometown. After experiencing several years of abuse growing up, many more being silent and then several more years seeking justice in the court system, the women said their main goal in making the film was to help others find the courage to speak out.

READ MORE: Because We Are Girls to screen at Paradise Cinemas

“A lot of women are coming forward and sharing not only what they’ve been through, but also what their daughters, or their grandmothers, have been through,” said Kira. “We need to stand strong as their voice and if we’re able to have them take some of the courage from how we’ve taken the steps to do this — hopefully they can borrow a bit of that strength and be able to follow whatever their journey is in life and look at our journey and our ability to speak out and be that voice.”

Sangra, meanwhile, said Because We Are Girls has been screened so far 14 times in Vancouver, five times in Toronto, in Waterloo, Ont., in Calgary, in Surrey, in Halifax, in Seattle, in Korea and now in Williams Lake.

“It’s been received so well,” she said. “People have been reaching out to find out how they can play it and we’re really thrilled we were able to bring it to Williams Lake.”



sports@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Paradise Cinemas owner David Hothi and manager Gord Moon donated screening fees, while the Williams Lake Film Club donated ticket sales to Chiwid Transition House in Williams Lake.

Just Posted

Family bond strengthened through mask-making

A B.C. Indigenous youth is making face masks for firefighters after having made some for family

Indigenous company to launch First Nations banking app

A national release of the OneFeather APP anticipated no later than this summer

Illegal bear shooting investigated in Lac la Hache area

BC Conservation served violation tickets on the hunter and the bear was seized

FOREST INK: Ithaka Institute in Switzerland continues with biochar research

My experience to date with biochar was mainly its use as a… Continue reading

RANCH MUSINGS: Is isolation enough already? A view from real isolation

In so many ways, we are blessed with being different from them

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Williams Lake Tribune continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Most Read