Tuesday, February 26th, 2013...6:42 pm

Cinema Politica: Politically Active With a Side of Popcorn

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I grew up in a household that didn’t have cable TV. It seemed like torture to me, this absence of cable-privilege. I used to plead, “Mom, even inmates have access to cable TV!” Post-adolescence, I now understand living without cable was a well thought-out and conscious choice by my mother who believed less “good” TV meant less hours spent in front of the screen, as well as a few extra dollars in her pocket.

Alternatively, we were early adopters of this new thing called the World Wide Web (very new in ’94) and accordingly I channeled most of my TV watching hours onto the Internet. Given that you’re reading this, it may have paid off in some sense… but I digress. The point I am trying to make is I still don’t watch much TV (or movies) and when I do plop myself in front of a TV screen it tends to be to watch documentaries, because I have no problem excusing these hours as productive.

Except the problem I have with watching documentaries by myself is that I am often left feeling overwhelmed with new information, imposed on by the questions it may create, and left a little hopeless about what exactly I am to do about it. Lucky for me, Cinema Politica at U of T has arrived.

My Daughter the Terrorist was one of two documentaries screened on February 21st.

I attended the screening of two documentaries last Thursday (events happen most Thursdays, 8pm, at OISE – check here for upcoming screenings), and got in touch with Erin Oldynski. Erin is a co-founder of the U of T chapter and rather than speak for her, I went directly to the source. Here’s some prime details about the network:

What is Cinema Politica?

Cinema Politica is a Montreal-based media arts, non-profit network of community and campus locals that screen independent political film and video by Canadian and international artists throughout Canada and abroad. We started a chapter of Cinema Politica at the University of Toronto in December 2012 called “Cinema Politica U of T“.

How does the U of T chapter fit in to the larger organization?

We share access to a huge database of documentary films with the Cinema Politica network as a whole, which is made up of campus and community chapters. So we are one of many, many chapters of Cinema Politica.

How did you get involved with the Cinema Politica?

I first got involved with Cinema Politica in Waterloo, Ontario where I did my undergraduate degree. I started a chapter through the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, an on-campus social justice organization that supports student initiatives, similar to OPIRG-Toronto here at U of T. Our chapter in Waterloo is called “WPIRG Cinema Politica: and is still up and running.

How might other grad students get involved?

We always need students to help with promotions, attending screenings, organizing discussions after the film, and most importantly, deciding what films we are going to screen! Email uoft@cinemapolitica.org to get involved.

Join Cinema Politica on February 28th to watch this film, 5 Broken Cameras.

What is the best part about being a member?

Watching awesome documentary films that you probably would not have the opportunity to see otherwise and then talking about them afterward.

And there it is! The solution to my sometimes uncomfortable feelings that occur after watching hard-hitting (but awesome) documentaries — dialogue. An important part of any action, dialogue is a key factor in Cinema Politica’s vision. Jessica Denyer, co-founder of the organization explains,

“We are not just watching films, we are also bringing in community groups to discuss the issues raised by the documentaries. This is not just a project of passively watching films, it’s also about education to take action, whether collectively or as individuals” (Source).

And so next time you feel sluggish why not attend a FREE screening and be active? While sitting and eating popcorn, of course.

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