Alone Together film festival explores isolation in Vancouver
Lonely but not alone—this is how too many of us might describe our lives in the city. It’s an issue that’s being put under the microscope at the inaugural SFU Public Square Community Summit this week. With the title Alone Together: Connecting in the City, the summit addresses themes of isolation and community-building through, among other things, poetry readings, conferences, and a cabaret.
There’s also a film portion to the summit—a free film portion, to be exact—with a handful of notable screenings taking place at the Westminster Savings Credit Union Cinema in the SFU Surrey building over the weekend.
Things get under way with a program of shorts on Saturday (September 22) that includes Canadian director Penelope Buitenhuis’s 2008 film “Damn”, along with “A Hair on Your Heart”. Assistant festival director Novia Shih-Shan Chen told the Straight that director Young Cho’s 19-minute flick—about a man’s relationship with an actress living in his building and the discovery of a mysterious hair that appears on people’s hearts when they fall in love—brings “a lighter atmosphere” to the mini festival. The characters may be separated by subtle class divisions, Chen noted, “but the closeness of the urban environment also brings them together.”
Much heavier but no less intriguing is a presentation on Sunday (September 23) of This Space Available. Gwenaëlle Gobé’s documentary addresses the problem of “visual pollution” and the efforts of artists, thinkers, and activists to reclaim public space from the relentless encroachment of advertising.
“I was amazed by the theme,” Chen said. “People who have no idea about how visual pollution is affecting their lives, it will raise awareness with them. It’s a real issue.” Chen hopes the film, which is getting its debut in the Lower Mainland, will present “an ideal that we want to fight for. And in that activity, we are connected.”
It’s hard to imagine a more profoundly alienating device than the marketing and consumerism that accosts the city dweller on a daily basis. Or a more enjoyable way of illuminating this and related problems than a smartly programmed mini film festival that costs you no more than the transport to get there. For more info on the Alone Together film festival, go to www.sfu.ca/publicsquare/community-summit.html.