PeopleThe Change Makers

The Change Makers | Jasleen Kaur | #weareallmaple

Meet Jasleen Kaur, a young filmmaker with a powerful documentary ‘Maple: A Documentary.’ Her film is about the murder of Maple Batalia, a young woman slain at SFU in Surrey in 2011. Jasleen, also an Indo-Canadian woman from Surrey, was drawn to Maple’s story because they were born in the same year and share a birthday.

Her film has become a voice for not only Maples family, but other victims of violence who are seeking change in our community. The final public showing of her film, took place on what would have been her 26th birthday, March 4, at the Westminster Savings Lecture Theater on the Simon Fraser University Surrey campus. There were not enough seats for everyone who came to support Maple’s family and watch the film.

In this episode of The Change Makers, Jasleen shares with us her journey and why she created the film.

Why do you feel that you were the right person to tell the story?

When I started the film I was told very early on by a mentor of mine that you need to prove to people, or explain to people, that you are the one to tell this story, that you have this unique perspective. And I thought about it, and he is right. You know Maple and I are both born on March 4th 1992 to the day, which is insane. We’re both women from the south asian community. Parents were both immigrants. Had similar aspirations in life.  I feel like we would have been friends if we had met.

So, I feel like I have this unique perspective that was crucial in the telling of this story. I was able to connect with her friends. I was able to really show them that I was also hurting by this just like so much of our community, and that I wanted to help in anyway that I could.

Why did you create this film about Maple?

More than anything when I first started I just wanted to learn more about Maple. I wanted to know who she was, and I wanted to understand the issues behind why she was killed, and how it was possible for someone to take her life in that way. In that gruesome way, and feel like he had the power to do that. I just wanted to know. I wanted answers just so many other people.

So, when I started the film I decided that I was just going to ask as many questions as I could just to learn more about her, and then it turned into more about me wanting to raise awareness about the issues of domestic violence and gender inequality particularly in the south asian community.

And then, it turned into me wanting to amplify the voices of her parents and her friends, who were basically pleading and saying society do what you can to make sure this doesn’t happen again. So, as a filmmaker I wanted to be able to get their word out as much as I possibly could.

This film told the story of this incredible girl and works towards raising awareness about the issues that surrounded her death.

What were the most important moments for you in bringing this film to life?

Creating this film was quite a process. There were three moments that really, really stood out for me. That made it come alive. The first one being getting the blessing of from Maple Batalia’s family. I knew that I needed to contact Rosekeen Batalia, Maple’s sister first because she had been very outspoken in the media.

And I was really lucky to have Capilano Universities support because they provided me with the gear that I needed to start the initial interviews, because I submitted the film project through their Off the Grid program.

Another really big step for me was getting Bnita Nagra, Karen Kang, and Benisha Aujla because they were the three friends that I think were closest to Maple, and two of them were with her the night she died.

When I first contacted them Bnita decided that she wanted to talk to me on the phone, and I was like, oh my goodness, this is it – ok here we go.

So we talked on the phone and we talked for about an hour and a half – the first conversation that we had because we immediately started talking about Maple and who she was. Bnita told me the entire story over the phone that day and I remember just taking so many notes and actually crying during the phone call too because it had become so emotional learning about everything. And that was the first time that I had heard a different story. Not the story that the media told.

What is your hope for the film?

Across all cultures there seems to be this entrenched belief that the man is superior over the woman, and that’s a problem we need to fix. And that’s something that I tried to get across in that film as well.

I think it’s subject matter that has been avoided for a very long time but now people are starting to speak more about it and I didn’t find it tough to ask those questions because they needed to be asked, and people had answers, so I wasn’t scared to ask them. I mean look at the “me too” movement, and the women’s march in Vancouver, like there’s so much happening now and I’m so glad I can be a part of this movement to hopefully eradicate these problems.

If you are in an abusive relationship, break the silence and call! 604.640.7549 (local calls) or 1.888.833.7733 (out of town calls) IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER CALL 911.

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Joseph Kafka
I am at heart a video content creator and storyteller with love for photography. I have discovered three important truths about marketing and creativity so far: (1) Whether you're Business to Business or Business to Customer, it’s all people to people, (2) The shortest distance between two people is a story, (3) openness to discovery is the pathway to creativity and sharing.