Jasleen and Maple

Jasleen Kaur is amazed the path she's on now is so different from the one she anticipated when she studied film at Capilano University.

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She didn't take a single documentary class and yet now she's directed an award-winning documentary film.

Kaur's film Maple, about Maple Batalia, the 19-year-old student, aspiring actress and model, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend outside the Simon Fraser University Surrey campus in September 2011, not only won Best Documentary at the largest South Asian Film Festival in the United States, but has also been embraced by Batalia's family, the RCMP and local educators.

After Kaur's film won best documentary at the Tasveer South Asian Film Festival, the RCMP screened Maple at a domestic violence forum for police officers and other frontline workers in Chilliwack. 

Now high school teachers want to show this film to their students to help them recognize the early signs of an abusive relationship.

Batalia met her ex-boyfriend, Gary Dhaliwal, when she was a young teen and they had an on-again, off-again relationship until he murdered her at age 19. Their mothers were friends and Batalia’s mother hoped the pair would marry.

“Nobody expected it would come to this, so it’s a really sad, tragic story,” Kaur says.

Kaur initially thought she’d write a fictional script based on the case but then she decided she wanted to get closer. She reached out to Batalia’s sister Roseleen, who’d been outspoken in the media, and received her permission to proceed with a documentary a month before she graduated with a Bachelor of Motion Picture Arts degree from Capilano University.

Through the film program’s Off the Grid project, which gives students with outstanding independent proposals access to film facilities, Kaur got her hands on camera and sound equipment to conduct her first interviews with Batalia’s family, friends and community members.

As a requirement to receive her degree, Kaur also completed a practicum at Hodgee Films, owned and operated by Brent Hodge (A Brony TaleI Am Chris FarleyThe Pistol Shrimps). Hodgee Films kept her on as a production assistant/researcher and then promoted her to producer on a documentary that’s currently in production.

While Kaur finds herself more interested in documentary films than ever, she remains keen to direct fictional short and feature films.

Maple will premiere in Canada on November 18 at SFU Surrey, with Kaur and Batalia’s family in attendance.

Help Wanted, a film directed by CapU alumni Jacquile Kambo and produced by Kaur in their fourth year in Capilano University’s School of MOPA, screens before Maple.

Submitted by: Cheryl Rossi, Communications & Marketing