40 min | 2016 | India
In Punjabi & English w/subtitles
Directed by Harjant Gill
Produced by PSBT  (Public Service Broadcasting Trust)
Additional Funding: The Wenner-Gren Foundation


What happens to families in the absence of sons? What happens to land in the absence of farmers? What happens to communities in the absence of men? Sent Away Boys weaves together stories of individual ambitions and family biographies from Punjab (India) to chronicle the gradual transformation of agrarian landscape and patriarchal traditions through ongoing transnational migration. As the promise of a secure future in agriculture grows increasingly uncertain for young Punjabi Sikh men across the region, escaping India to become part of global labor flows in North America, Europe and the Gulf becomes their sole aspiration. Through interviews with men preparing to undertake risky journeys and women awaiting the return of their sons, brothers and husbands, Sent Away Boys shows how young men’s decisions to emigrate implicate families and communities across North India.


… an illuminating and poignant documentary about the desires that drive emigration from India, as well as the social and emotional fallout for those left behind. A must-see for anyone interested in contemporary global migration.” – Richard Fung (OCAD University), Video Artist, Theorist and Professor of Media Studies  

“…not only an important contribution to gender studies but also for Indian ethnography, feminist studies/activism, and feminist film studies… serving a wonderful resource to initiate discussions in sociology, anthropology and South Asian studies course…” – Sanghita Sen, in Anthropological Quarterly, 91(3)

“(Gill’s film) is able to capture all that embodied affective intensity that comes with this personal/political while also invoking the complicated historical, cultural, gendered, religious, quantum entanglements therein.” – Arjun Shankar, in Visual Anthropology Review 33 (1)


TV Broadcast:

• Doordarshan (Indian national TV channel) – Spring 2017

Film Festivals & Academic Settings:

• 2018 Displacements Virtual Film Festival
• 2018 South Asia Institute, UT Austin (invited screening)
• 2017 Cinema Verite, Iran International Documentary Film Festival
• 2017 Institute for South Asia Studies, UC Berkeley (invited screening)
• 2017 Annual Conference on South Asia, Madison WI
• 2017 PickUrFlick Film Festival, New Delhi ***Award: “Best Director” in Documentary***
• 2017 DC South Asian Film Festival
• 2017 Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival Library, Bristol
• 2017 New York Indian Film Festival
• 2017 South Asian International Documentary Film Festival, Seattle
• 2016 Society for Visual Anthropology Film and Media Festival
• 2016 Viscult Festival of Visual Culture, Finland
• 2016 International Visual Sociology Association (IVSA) Meetings, Norway
• 2016 Open Frame Film Festival, New Delhi