Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Silver Lining

Before I retire this blog, I wanted to remind myself and my readers of two things I am grateful to in this dark time:

1. Male Allies – I am blessed to have many men in my life who understand that violence against women is not just a women's issue. While the Republicans recently made men look like Neanderthals with their asinine comments about “legitimate rape” and a bunch of other crap, other men are standing up and calling their bullsh!t.

Like the guys at MaculinityU who wrote:
Kasandra Perkins’ Murder – Some Things Keeping Three Guys Up at Night 

Or the guys at The Factuary who made this great video about five things that women are still fighting for:

Or Filmmaker Byron Hurt who wrote this very relevant article:
Why I Am a Black Male Feminist

2. Women Working Together – While I do think we still have work to do when coming together across cultural lines, I have seen an increase in women working collectively to try to end violence against all women. An exciting example of this is the upcoming 15th anniversary of Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues and the V-Day call inviting ONE BILLION women and those who love them to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to this violence. ONE BILLION RISING will move the earth, activating women and men across every country.

One Billion Women Violated Is An Atrocity. One Billion Women Dancing Is A Revolution.

Why It Still Matters

I had been planning on writing a brief post to direct readers to my consolidated film blog. I will still be making “December 6” available online every year:

And I will keep the Facebook page up, but as I move forward with the extended cut of “When It Rains,” the next film in my sisters trilogy, I thought it was time to retire this blog.

Then Kasandra Perkins was murdered.

I needed to take a breath and figure out how to respond. Aside from the high profile of her killer, this wasn’t much different from the murders that happen to women in the United States EVERY DAY by their male partners or ex-partners. But the high profile of her killer suddenly has everybody talking about it and realizing that it is an epidemic of violence that is happening against women worldwide. The form of violence might vary from country to country, culture to culture, but every woman in the world is potentially at risk.

This is why I made this film and why I continue to post it year after year. This is why it still matters.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stopping the Destruction of the Gun Registry's Data

News from the Coalition for Gun Control
Forwarded by Remember Our Sisters Everywhere

Take action to stop the destruction of the gun registry's data.

On December 13, 2011, the Government of Quebec announced it would not stand idly by and let the Harper government dismantle the firearms registry and destroy the data, saying that it will turn to the courts to fight the federal government's unjust law (Bill C-19).

With the exception of Quebec, provinces have done little to counter federal plans to dismantle the long-gun registry and destroy the data, even though provincial taxpayers helped build the system! But last weekAlberta's Progressive Conservative Premier made the announcement that she does not oppose the transfer of the gun registry data to the provinces. It's time for the other provinces to speak up!
Please ask your provincial government to "Save the Data"

We expect that Bill C-19 will be sent to the Senate in February. With the latest series of appointments, the Conservatives hold a comfortable majority in the upper chamber (61 seats out of 105), making it even more challenging to stop the destruction of the data. The provinces must speak up now.

Bill C-19 goes far beyond simply ending the registration of non-restricted rifles and shotguns, including the powerful semi-automatic Ruger Mini-14 used in the Montreal Massacre. Bill C-19 ends the requirement to verify a license when firearms are sold or transferred, removing an essential safeguard. It also ends critical record-keeping measures that have been in place since 1977, tracking the sale or transfer of firearms, and will enable individuals to acquire an unlimited number of rifles or shotguns without the police being able to trace those weapons back to them or hold them accountable if they sell them on the black market. The Bill also entails the immediate destruction of all the existing data on over seven million registered long guns, severely undermining the police's ability to trace guns recovered in crime.

Please call your local MPP, MLA or MHA and your Premier's office today and ask them to do everything in their power to stop Bill C-19 and save the data on the 7.1 million long guns that are currently registered:
When you call, please mention these key facts:
  • Rifles and shotguns in the wrong hands are as deadly as handguns. We need controls on all guns.
  • Safety experts and victims maintain that Canada's gun control law is useful and efficient and has had a concrete impact in reducing firearm death and injury.
  • Destroying the data will cripple the police's ability to trace any non-restricted guns to their last legal owners if they end up being used in crimes.
  • Experts have warned that destroying the data will create a terrible precedent and may be a further cost to taxpayers.
  • The long-gun registry is an essential tool used 17,000 times a day by police to take preventive action and bring criminals to justice.
  • While there are more guns in rural areas, there are also higher rates of firearm death and injury, often involving rifles and shotguns.
  • Gun control works: the rate of death involving guns is the lowest it has been in over 40 years.
  • The cost of maintaining the gun registry is less than $4 million per year. To dismantle this effective system now would be a waste.
  • A well-financed opposition obscures the facts and reflects a small minority. The gun lobby doesn't speak for me.
Thank you!
The Coalition for Gun Control

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Watch December 6 on (and around) December 6

It is that time of year, again... With a mere two weeks until this year's National Day of Remembrance on Violence Against Women, I've made "December 6" public on YouTube. It is my intention to leave it there until the end of December. Feel free to share!

For anyone looking to rent or buy a version for a memorial screening, please contact V-Tape ( Community & not-for-profit groups will be offered a 50% discount.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Polytechnique, The Movie

With the anniversary of December 6 looming once again, and Denis Villeneuve's feature film, "Polytechnique," screening on TV tonight, I thought it was high time to post my thoughts on that film.

"Polytechnique" is well crafted, beautifully shot, and captures the essence of the events of December 6, 1989 but is, without question, hard to watch (something that probably comes as no surprise). I have read some reviews that claim "Polytechnqiue" fails to add anything to our understanding of events, some that claim that it is politically correct feminist propaganda, and some that even claim it is too male oriented.

To the first claim, I agree... with an important caveat. I do not think the film was mean to be a psychoanalysis of the shooter or the events, so the film does not pretend to provide answers to questions raised that day. Instead, it is a raw portrayal of emotion and devastation that possibly raises more questions than it answers.

Regarding the claim that it is only for politically correct feminists... I doubt it. But having been described that way myself on occasion, I may not be the best person to refute that argument. However, the fact that the final claim exists at all, suggests to me that "Polytechnique" does not lean towards the feminist extreme.

As for the male perspective of "Polytechnique," I can see it (and not just because the film was written and directed by men), but I don't think it's a bad thing. In fact, in the aftermath of the massacre in 1989, the story that hit me the hardest was told by one of the men who had been ordered out of the classroom, knowing that his female classmates were unlikely to survive. He struggled with his actions even though he was ordered out at gunpoint, even though he would probably be dead himself if he had refused. His survivor's guilt was overwhelming. And I could relate to that survivor's guilt in a way that I couldn't let myself relate to the women who were killed in that classroom. Such survivor's guilt was also the focus of Colleen Murphy's award-winning play about the massacre, "The December Man." It's a way into the tragedy that we can all access. A hard way, but an accessible one.

Evalyn Parry's spoken word, which provides the backbone for the short film "December 6," provides another way in to this tragedy. An approach that is both accessible and surprisingly hopeful. It's because of that hope that I first approached Evalyn about using her spoken word for my film. And it's because she fought to maintain that hope as we expanded the spoken word to include additional elements for the film, that the film itself became inspirational.

For the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, I was at a screening of "Polytechnique" hosted by a university women's group. They preceded the feature with "December 6" and followed it with a discussion period. During that discussion, I was struck by the number of people quoting directly from "December 6" while discussing both the feature film and the events themselves. It felt as though Evalyn Parry had given viewers the language they had previously lacked for just such a discussion. I was also moved by the number of people who came up to me at the end of the evening and thanked me for showing "December 6" and telling me how inspired they were by it. It seems hard to believe that one could make an inspiring film based on the events of the Montreal Massacre but thanks in no small part to Evalyn Parry's words (and the incredible women who danced in the film), my short film was able to offer a glimmer of hope that the feature film couldn't (at least not if they were going to be faithful to true events). For that reason alone, I now highly recommend showing "December 6" alongside "Polytechnique."

So if you are organizing a screening of "Polytechnique," consider adding "December 6" to the evening to provide some balance and give your audience something hopeful to hold onto when the night ends. The film is available for distribution through V-Tape.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stolen Sisters

This photo is part of a proposal that I submitted with Sandra Lamouche, Hoop Dancer from "December 6," to create a silent poetry dance film for imagineNATIVE's Stolen Sisters Digital Initiative call. In "14 (for December 6)," the spoken word piece that creates the backbone of the film "December 6," Evalyn Parry delivers a line: "Women's bodies farmed out, used up, disappeared." It's a line that haunts me and was part of the inspiration in the creation of this proposal. Depressing statistic in the body graffiti, but I'm pleased with the aesthetic of the image.