WWII battle scene to be filmed in West Kelowna - InfoNews

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WWII battle scene to be filmed in West Kelowna

Michael DesMazes from International Movie Services kits out South Asian soldiers with period-correct arms and uniforms for the battle of Monte Cassino Italy 1944.
Image Credit: Steven Purewal
September 15, 2020 - 7:30 AM

With help from the Kelowna and Vernon Dragoons, a Lower Mainland film company will be filming Second World War battle scenes in the Okanagan next month.

The Indus Media Foundation will use locations in West Kelowna to film the battle scene for a short film honouring the role of South Asian soldiers during the Second World War.

"It's a vital piece of our history, same King, same Crown, same uniform, same medals, same battlefields, yet we don't know anything about these guys," filmmaker Steven Purewal told iNFOnews.ca. "It's something that will turn a few heads because that's what we always do when we tell these stories."

West Kelowna will stand in for 1944 Italy where the battle of Monte Cassino was fought.

"Where Indian and Canadian troops fought as brothers-in-arms as British citizens under one flag and a common Crown," Purewal said. "Many descendants of these Punjabi soldiers now call Canada and the Okanagan their home."

The title of the short 20-minute film is Promises, but the title insinuates the broken promises that were made.

"What everyone forgets is before 1947, everyone's British. That's the thing that's conveniently brushed under the carpet. The Indian soldiers were actually British, they wore the same uniforms as Canadians, (the European) Canadians were British because there was no such thing as a Canadian citizen until 1947, there was no passport," he said. "So everyone was British, we were just the wrong colour of British to be included in everything."

Promises is an adaptation of a graphic novel Purewal wrote and published about the contribution of Indian soldiers in the First World War and their shared history with Canada. The book Duty, Honour & Izzat, was an extension of a travelling exhibit Purewal created in 2014, for the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of the First World War.

Purewal said while COVID has delayed the project, he hopes a short trailer will be ready to debut for Remembrance Day, with the film hopefully completed by the end of the year.

The exact site in West Kelowna has yet to be picked, and the current smoke is hampering the filmmaker's search.

Purewal said while the not-for-profit society doesn't have the budget of Hollywood, the battle scenes will still be on par and are using period uniforms and weapons.

The filmmaker has a federal government grant to make the short, but hopes for support, especially from the local South Asian community. A retired mayor that runs a movie supplies company just donated $75,000 of kit including much needed military equipment, said Purewal.

"What I'm looking for is that a lot of people are coming together to do something like this because they think it's a worthwhile cause... we can all talk about diversity, there's a lot of people throwing lots of stuff around, ripping statues down, but at the end of the day it's not a problem that solves itself.... what we have to do is do something about it, and that's what we are trying to do through this project," he said.

"What these exhibits and these stories do is they actually bring people together because there's a shared history, Canadians and Indian soldiers fighting together... it gets people talking and that's what we want," Purewal said.

For more information go here.

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