The CSU’s North of 49 series isn’t doing homegrown talent justice
Noah Penner // Contributor
This fall, as part of an effort to foster unity between the Bosa Centre and the rest of campus, the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) has teamed up with Telefilm Canada to present the North of 49 series of film screenings. The name is new, but the idea isn’t – similar screenings were held in previous years.
Unlike those screenings, which took place in the Bosa Centre theatre, this new series is showing at the Members Centre in the Library Building. According to a CSU Board Meeting Report from Oct. 20, the change was “to get students to get engaged with these movies and the artists, the directors, etc., and because it was in Bosa, not only the Bosa students felt isolated, they were the only ones watching it, but everyone else at school didn’t get as much access. In other words, the reason for the change in venues is in order to attract a larger student audience.”
Fair enough, as the Members Centre is pretty much as central on campus as you can get. The tradeoff, though, is a tiny and poorly lit screen with cheap speakers that are impossible to hear over the rush of lunch hour. A larger audience means nothing if no one is paying attention. Sure, there are a lot of students who casually drop in, some of whom sit down and stay for a while, but not all actually watching the movie.
Now, it’s great fun to pick a random movie off Netflix and give it a watch with your friends. These aren’t those kinds of movies. These are local independent films that probably won’t turn a pro t, and they almost certainly won’t be picked up for a wide release. They’re made by filmmakers who fought hard to make their dream project happen and it’s kind of underselling their work to have them screened like this. They deserve a better presentation. In a relaxed public place like the Member’s Lounge, it’s all too natural that people talk to their friends and check their phones.
Nobody is left feeling any sense of attachment, or any sense of joy that local stories from a variety of voices are finally getting the attention they deserve. Nobody will applaud and cheer when the credits roll and their names, and their friends and instructors names appear. Although the Bosa Centre isn’t centrally located on campus, the audience will surely experience the film with their full attention. The cinema was invented for a reason. Sure, most people down the line will probably watch the movie on their smartphones with cheap earbuds, but this should be the place that treats someone’s personal project with all the dignity and respect they never thought they’d get. If it takes more advertising and some messing around with screening times, so be it.
It would be easy to dismiss all of this as artistic snobbery. After all, film students haven’t traditionally done the best of job of dispelling that cliché. While it’s not the goal of the CSU to disrespect anyone’s effort, or undercut anyone’s accomplishments, that’s how this change is feeling.
In a local industry dominated by American stories reflecting American cultural values, it’s important to pay attention to those here at home who dare to dream and actually do pull off making a Canadian movie through thousands of hours of dedication. Isn’t it worth giving them two hours of your time, and a round of applause when the show’s over? Because unlike your average Hollywood blockbuster director, these people might be in the same room, seated close by, nervously listening for your feedback.