Filmmaker Mani Amar killed in fight with Surrey neighbour: police

Investigators and relatives have identified a man they say was killed when a fight between neighbours in Surrey, B.C., escalated on Wednesday.

Family confirmed with CBC on Thursday that the victim is the filmmaker Manbir (Mani) Amar, who is known for his films and advocacy concerning gang violence in the city.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) said Amar died after he was assaulted in the 14100-block of 61 Avenue around 1:50 p.m. PT.

RCMP had been called to the area, in the Newton neighbourhood, for reports of a fight between two men. A statement Thursday said officers found Amar injured, and he later died.

“This was an isolated incident between two neighbours,” IHIT Sgt. Timothy Pierotti wrote in the statement.

“Tragically, this situation escalated to a point where a life was taken.”

WATCH | Filmmaker remembered as an anti-violence advocate:

Filmmaker killed in Surrey remembered as anti-violence advocate

Investigators have identified a man they say was killed in a fight between neighbours in Surrey as documentary filmmaker Mani Amar. Karen Reid Sidhu with the Surrey Crime Prevention Society said Amar worked with her organization, which tries to keep youth out of gang life.

Mounties found a suspect at the scene and arrested him, the statement said.

The suspect was not publicly identified, but IHIT identified Amar “in hopes of advancing the investigation.”

RCMP are asking anyone who has information on the incident who hasn’t already spoken to police to contact IHIT.

A police officer with a hat that reads 'IHIT Homicide Team'.
IHIT and Richmond RCMP officers at the scene of a homicide in the 4500-block of Garden City road in Richmond, British Columbia on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

‘He left a legacy’

Amar’s family released a statement through IHIT, describing the impact he had on both his family and the community as a whole.

“Mani was a devoted father, brother, son and friend. A talented individual who devoted his life to activism and the arts,” said brother Gurbinder Amar.

“Through poetry, prose, philosophy, painting, photography and filmmaking, Mani touched the lives of many individuals. He will be deeply missed.”

For years, Amar put the spotlight on gang violence with his advocacy and filmmaking.

Karen Reid Sidhu with the Surrey Crime Prevention Society said Amar worked with her organization and provided valuable insights into the minds of young people feeling the lure of gang life.

“He had had enough about all the shootings that were going on, and the youth involved in gangs,” Sidhu said. 

Filmmaker Mani Amar died after a fight between Surrey neighbours (Glen Kugelstadt/CBC)

“He had such a passion to help kids try and stay off the path of gang activity. And now he’s no longer with us.”

He saw the value in mentorship from other youths, Sidhu said, recognizing adult voices may not have as much of an impact. 

He understood the need to reach young men early — before they become entrenched in the gang lifestyle.

Sidhu said Amar was especially saddened to see young South Asian men getting into gang life.

“He was adamant about saying, this is not what represents the South Asian community, but it is unfortunately something that’s happening right now,” she said. “He was very passionate about that.”

“He left a legacy,” Sidhu said.

IMDB credits Amar with three films: a short, a documentary, and a feature film titled Footsteps Into Gangland, described as an “adaptation of true events that have shattered the South Asian community of Vancouver.”

Mannu Sandhu, who appeared in the film, says it exposed what was happening in the community and informed parents. 

“[Amar] really made the conversation happen,” she said, adding she’ll always remember his empathy. 

“Anything that would happen in the community related to gang violence, his heart would bleed.”

On The Coast6:09The life of local filmmaker Mani Amar, who was killed yesterday

Some sad news, from B.C.’s film community now. Documentary filmmaker Mani Amar died yesterday, in what police are describing as a fight between neighbours. For years, Amar put the spotlight on gang violence with his advocacy and filmmaking. For more, we’re joined by Mannu Sandhu. She is the Festival Producer, Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival. And she worked with Amar on the 2011 film “Footsteps Into Gangland”.

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