Last Thursday, Ryerson University transformed a lecture hall in the library building into a movie theatre, not accompanied by popcorn and soda, but instead with students looking to have an intellectual discussion on political issues.
Cinema Politica Ryerson is a new collective that uses film to open up conversations about social justice and engage Ryerson students in political discussion.
The group was established at Ryerson in August and plans to host monthly film screenings on campus that focus on social justice themes, including LGBTQ and racial issues. In addition to the screenings, there is also a discussion period where attendees can ask questions to guest speakers.
Janet Rodriguez, vice president of equity for CESAR and volunteer for Cinema Politica Ryerson said, “The vehicle for discussion is the screening. Art can be a very good tool for people to express their situation…the knowledge that the film provides will be enhanced by the discussion.”
Cinema Politica is a Montreal-based non-profit company that screens independent political films throughout Canada and overseas.
The collective had its first screening Oct. 8 where it showed Call Me Kuchu, a 2012 documentary about the LGBTQ community in Uganda, following activist, David Kato, who was murdered one year into making the film.
“We considered that Social Justice Week had a day focusing on Black Lives Matter, so we wanted a movie that focused on that aspect,” said Rodriguez.
Just over 50 Ryerson students and faculty, as well as non-students, attended the film.
Tenzin Tharchen, an activist participating in Social Justice Week, was surprised by how engaged students were during the events.“It’s nice to see young people so energetic about social justice,” he said.
Rodriquez says Cinema Politica Ryerson aims to focus on documentaries because they are unique, they tell the truth, and the storytelling can be first person which draws the audience in more. “Something may not be on your radar, but as you watch, it may make you think differently,” she added.
The guest speakers at the event were LGBTQ activist and Ryerson alumnus Lali Mohammed, and Wesley Crichlow, an associate professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, who focuses on social justice.
They dissected the documentary and offered their thoughts on it. Crichlow noted how the documentary helps us “start to question how we think in Western society.”
Rodriguez was pleased with the event’s turnout. “The speakers were top notch, they were very knowledgeable. We wanted to start Cinema Politica with a big splash,” she said.
Cinema Politica Ryerson’s next screening is scheduled for some time in November.
Photos by Isabelle Docto