Anakana Schofield – Award Winning Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

Two cinematic forays this week, both at the same cinema. At one, The Sweet and the Bitter, a discussion followed the film.  A few moments stand out: sat in the middle of cinema a man described his excitement at living beside where the film was shot at age 11 (1962) and “waiting” for it to appear in the cinema (it didn’t til 1967). At the back of the cinema, a woman (who I think said her ma appeared in the film) described how the film was the beginning of what we call Hollywood North (bascially films being shot here in Vancouver), how the actors in the film got “their breaks” and other comments that related to context on the Japanese-Canadian content of the film. At the front of the cinema, a man described gentrification and uttered the words “we don’t want it” in relation to films being shot here (Hollywood North) and the Olympics.

So there we had it: waiting, beginning, we don’t want it. I appreciated how these points of view and voices could share the oxygen.  As this is not always the case. Also there was a palpable appetite in the room for people to talk about their city, as though there is a dearth of opportunities.

I thought about many of these events I’ve been to where discussions take place and it struck me how we so rarely hear the voices of ordinary people in relation to whatever artistic event has taken place. I’ve actually been at events (one at the library) where some of the writers present were actively irate because a member of the public went off on a mad irrelevant tirade. Hello it’s a public venue! If you only want to hear people who speak your language and behave and view things on your terms organize a private party with the 35 people who agree with you and have read the books or watched the films you’ve watched.There’s a significant distance between talking at people and engaging with them.

Visual arts can be particularly intimidating and excluding in this way. Hermetically sealed, such events demand invasion by the populous. Go and be at them, in them, among them. Ask your questions loud and proud and confused.

The disappearence of what I’ll call the “lumpen” writer/artist has created a ditch between writers and readers.

Some of the more interesting encounters I’ve had are usually with seemingly mad people going off on a major tirade, but who in actual fact turn out to be very sane and articulate.

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