YADI - a film in progress by Leo Erken


By Leo Erken, March 2016

My friend Yadivindra Singh Saroya passed away on October 6, 2015, at the age of 49. He was the son of Sikh immigrants who moved to the United Kingdom from the Punjab. He was only six years old when his family moved to Hounslow, London. I met him in 1987 when I was working on a photo series about the Sikh community in London. At the time Yadi was 21 and I was 23.

As a photographer, I documented his life intensively from thereon and we made all kinds of plans for joint films and photography projects but over the years we never quite managed to see those plans through. After Yadi’s passing, questions came to my mind: ‘Why didn’t we?’ And also: ‘Why was I his only white friend?’

With his family and other people that surrounded him, I started working on a film. In the same rooms as I was many years before, I started observing their lives with a camera again.

The main question I had 28 years ago is still alive: ‘What’s reality like when you live by the rules of an eastern religion in a western world?’ But straight away I got serious questions back about the meaning of the pictures I had taken in the past and about my safe position on the other side of the camera.

In this film, we will make observations both ways: about our lives with and without religion and try to find meaning in telling these personal histories. It will be a film about community and its relation to society as well as taking a look at life as an in- or outsider.

I realized that getting funding for a project like this at this stage will be difficult. Then I had an idea. Why not start working on an independent production and fund it -as far as it goes- by selling my personal collections? Over the years I have been collecting pictures, books and objects. They represent the stories I have been working on or was inspired by. I’ve decided to let many objects of value go to make the development of this film possible. Also by buying one of my photographs you are helping us to produce this film.

‘Yadi’ will be an independent production made and produced by my team; keeping it close to our hearts. This project needs time, therefore there is no deadline yet.

You can support us by following the progress online, sharing our messages on social media, buy an ‘Object of Value’ or making a donation. All interest and help is appreciated.

To see the objects click here.

Here you can find a first trailer and series of pictures of Yadi by Leo Erken.