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Laurier Hub fosters cultural diversity and inclusion through film

Arts and EntertainmentLaurier Hub fosters cultural diversity and inclusion through film

Wilfrid Laurier University students, staff and community members alike, gathered in the Steven Kun Theatre for the second viewing of the Laurier-Brantford International Film Series on Wednesday, February 7, 2024.

The series is being put on by the Laurier Hub for Community Solutions, and the Hub’s mission is to build a bridge between the school and community partners, in order to create community solutions.

“We have a lot of shared challenges and because Laurier has a lot of resources such as our faculty expertise and students, we try to offer that to the community to support their needs,” said Christina Han, Director of the Laurier Hub for Community Solutions. “We launched in September of 2022, and in the first year alone, we supported over 50 projects, worked with 45 community partners, and engaged with 100,000-plus community members as well as 800-plus students.”

The Hub has now teamed up with the City of Brantford to bring a free five-week film series to the residents of Brantford-Brant.

“We decided to launch this international film series for the community, but also for the students and staff on our campus,” said Han. “We’ve also brought in Laurier International to be a part of the project and the three partners are working together to launch this series to showcase five amazing films from around the world.”

Sivetha Sivaram, Community Initiatives Coordinator for the City of Brantford, explains the importance of building a diverse community during the second screening of the International Film Series on Wednesday, February 7, 2024.

Han said that Brantford itself has a rich cultural and diverse history that can often be forgotten.

“Brantford is actually so culturally and ethnically diverse and I don’t know if people really realize that,” she said. “Our history of immigration goes way back to the 1890’s when the downtown used to actually be a lot more diverse and so, through the various projects that I do, I really want to let the community and the public know about that rich history. I really think the international film series can be one of those projects that creates more in-depth dialogue.”

Han said that she came up with the idea after being prompted by the City.

“I’ve been working with some people from the City who are leading inclusive community projects and they suggested that we come up with some ideas to work together to make our community more inclusive and diverse,” she said. “I thought, ‘why don’t we do an international film series?’ because I actually studied film when I was an undergrad, and Brantford people love films. I think we really need to promote more cinematic art in the community especially because there’s been a lot of film production that’s happening in the city as well.”

The new series now aims to provide an opportunity for the community to share, reflect and celebrate different cultures and languages through cinematic art. The five films have been chosen by a committee made up of students and staff from Laurier International, as well as City staff and the Hub team.

“We went through the whole list of international films that’s available through the Laurier library catalogue, and our goal was to include films from diverse cultures or different languages that are produced by people from that culture.”

The first screening was held on Wednesday, January 24, and featured a Taiwanese film called “Eat Drink Man Woman.”

Achintaya Chhabra, Co-President of the Laurier Indian Student Association introduces the film “The Lunchbox” during the second screening of the International Film Series on Wednesday, February 7, 2024.

“Before we screen the film,, we have someone from the film’s particular community introduce it and talk about the cultural and historical context,” said Han. “During that first screening, we had Ben Yang, Director of Global Engagement at Laurier, introduce the film and he told the audience to watch out for certain things like how people use chopsticks and various other creative choices. After the film, we also get to have a lively discussion about it and the audience gets to ask questions and put their input in.”

Han said that they are also working with student clubs on campus to help promote the various films and on Wednesday, February 7, the Hub screened an award-winning Indian film called “The Lunchbox.”

“The association saw this as an opportunity to showcase and celebrate our cultural heritage, fostering a greater understanding among students and the community. ’The Lunchbox’ offers insights into various aspects of Indian culture, including the importance of family, the role of traditional cuisine, and the complexities of interpersonal relationships,” said Achintaya Chhabra, co-President of the Indian Students Association. “The film provides a glimpse into Mumbai’s urban life, highlighting the diversity and challenges within Indian society. The dabbawala (lunchbox delivery and return system), central to the film’s plot, showcases the efficiency and uniqueness of local practices in India, giving viewers a cultural and historical perspective on daily life in a bustling city.”

The next three events will showcase the following films: Taafé Fanga / Skirt Power (Mali), The Banshees of Inisherin (Ireland), The Diving Bell the Butterfly (France).

Screenings occur on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.), are free to attend and snacks and drinks are provided by the City.

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