Upon hearing the word “warrior”, we often paint in our mind the picture of a gladiator being cheered by the crowds in the colosseum, a faceless general behind heavy metal armour leading his army and riding his decorated horse. In these narratives, there are fights, grunts, mud, dust, fire, wounds…and of course, a scary unmerciful enemy. But stripped from garments, uniforms, medals and weapons, it becomes impossible to identify a warrior. It’s just a regular human, at rest, unrecognized. So, is there more to a warrior than this? And if it is said that the cloth does not make the monk, then what does make the warrior? If there’s a secret hiding beneath, then a scalpel is needed to cut in and find out. By dissecting Steve’s biography, this documentary digs deeper inside the eras of his life. Divided into 5 acts, the film follows a linear narrative from Steve’s birth in Punjab-India, up until the current time, highlighting the ebbs and tides and exposing the aches behind the achievements and fame. Each act uncovers different storylines, and although this biopic is an inspiring journey of one Punjabi immigrant, it brings upfront universal themes such as racism, injustice, struggles, family ties and how far someone would go to fulfill their passion. And by exposing one person’s life on film, this documentary targets one or more aspects of every viewer who would relate to Steve’s story, be it through the hardships and the ordeals he’s been dealt, or through his resilience and determination to take control of his life and career. In telling the life of a skilled man who wears so many hats, the visuals will combine 2D animation, reenactments, archive and dramatic interpretations of some of the most intense parts of Steve’s life, all narrated by him and other interviewees. Thus, the memories, nightmares and dreams of one man will come alive on the screen to remind us that every single one of us is a warrior, we all have our own battles and our own demons, yet our choices are the weapon that brings us to victory.
Rodrigue Hammal was born in Beirut, Lebanon. After finishing his film studies with honors at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts, he dove straight into the directing pool with diverse projects in web, TV, documentary, corporate films and narrative. Fluent in four languages, and with 17 years of experience under his belt, he was able to access different markets and audiences across the Middle East, the GCC, North Africa, Europe and Latin America. As a ThetaHealing practitioner, he is a deep believer in the power of film as a healing tool. This modality helped him delve deeper in understanding human behavior, while using film to illustrate difficult situations to his clients. Rodrigue is currently based in Toronto, Canada.
I remember the first time the producers reached out regarding this project. An attached brief included a short bio, written by Steve Nijjar himself, and it opened with: “Have you ever looked at a kid and thought…how the hell is this kid gonna make it through life?” I knew right away that this wasn’t an ordinary story, and there’s no better way to start the film, than with those exact words.
Every day, every minute, thousands of people worldwide bid farewell to their homes, lands and loved ones, to embark on an unknown journey, hoping for a better future. As an immigrant myself, I knew exactly what it takes to start a new life, and how it feels to attempt growing, while having deep old roots, miles and miles away. That’s why I was deeply moved by Steve’s pain and struggles, yet so inspired by his dreams and multiple successes. Being aware that an hour and half weren’t enough to sum up fifty years of battles and tribulations, my main goal was to grasp the essence of Steve’s story and turn into a palette of visuals, emotions and experiences to which every immigrant could relate, while still addressing relevant universal themes such as racism, bullying, heritage, faith, passion, and unconditional love. In remembering that we’re all, somehow, warriors fighting our own demons to thrive, I trust this story will touch every viewer’s heart, the same way it did mine, because that’s how and why films are made, to connect us as human beings, and elevate us to a better consciousness.