“Women-made art encourages us all to start and maintain conversations about women's experiences and is a channel through which everyone can amplify the talents and stories of women."
~ Producer Katie Billo, Digital Sabbath Film Company
On March 8, International Women's Day, local filmmakers Katie Billo and Sara Geidlinger are hosting a screening of the acclaimed film Women Talking, directed and written by Sarah Polley at Princess Twin Cinemas.
The screening is a collaborative presentation of groups and individuals in the region dedicated to inspiring young creators.
Sara, my Bonn Park podcast co-host told me that the Princess Twin Cinemas screening + speaker event came together when Billo reached out with an idea for an International Women’s Day event in Waterloo.
“When we lift women, we lift the community," Sara said. "When we teach children about equality, we build community.”
Women Talking is an Oscar-nominated adaptation of the 2018 novel of the same name by Miriam Toews, inspired by real-life events that occurred in a remote Mennonite community in Bolivia.
Let's hear from some of the presenters at International Women's Day WOMEN TALKING film screening + speaker event at Princess Twin Cinemas in uptown Waterloo...
Katie Billo, Producer at Digital Sabbath Film Company
For International Women's Day in 2022, I gathered a small group of local female filmmakers for some camaraderie, wine, and donuts at the Digital Sabbath office. This year, I wanted to host a larger event, and knew I wanted it to involve a screening of a film by female filmmakers.
When I saw "Women Talking" at the Princess in January, I knew it was the perfect film to gather the community around in celebration of IWD. I engaged the vast networks of Carmen Benyair from Christie Digital and Sara Geidlinger of Bonn Park Media to help bring this event together and am so excited that we were able to build a meaningful and fun evening.
So much of the work that women do is invisible, undervalued, or taken for granted, whether at home or at work, as mothers, daughters, sisters. International Women's Day motivates us all to shine a light on the contributions of women, and allows women an opportunity to be unabashedly proud of their accomplishments. Women-made art encourages us all to start and maintain conversations about women's experiences and is a channel through which everyone can amplify the talents and stories of women.
For Digital Sabbath Film Company, 2023 is going to be a big year! We're expanding into development of a few series, as well as scripted projects. Some of the local projects we're excited about include a documentary for St. Mary's General Hospital's 100th anniversary, a short film about KW-raised musician Erroll Starr, a series about quantum physics with Perimeter Institute, and a piece about Just Ideas, the 44 Gaukel-based music producers heading to the Junos this March.
Roshan James, Poet, Interdisciplinary Artist and Musician
Sara Geidlinger approached me to ask if I would be interested in speaking at an IWD event that she was organizing with Digital Sabbath. I jumped at the opportunity to share poetry and reflections because of the uniqueness of the event - a women-focused film screening with the opportunity to meet folks in the community at an iconic film venue in the region.
I will be reading and performing material from my recently-released spoken word EP - Warm Love - and may also weave in material from my upcoming book, Pink Moon (ECW Press Toronto, September 2023).
In my art, poetry and music practices, I wrestle with questions around identity - what does it mean to be me, us, women, a member of the South Asian diaspora, "Canadian," a settler, a civic-minded community member....and so on. These themes make their way into my work as subjects, and as shaping forces because identity is a visible and invisible influence on the choices we make and how we relate to the world.
And no conversation about feminism is complete without understanding how it intersects with additional lenses of racism, marginalization, and inequality. Looking at these issues through art and film is a great way to create safe spaces that allow for diverse thinking and life experiences to be shared so we can build a fulsome, well-rounded view of what needs to be resolved for our communities to improve in well-being and safety for all.
It is fundamental that we nurture and foster opportunities for the community to come together to contemplate and discuss the issues that impact us. This is not just a nice-to-have exercise, and it requires the on-going investment by corporate partners to improve and sustain life in the community. This squarely connects to the work required to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development goals - #s 5, 10 and 11, which the Region and municipalities have committed to.
Jennifer Hutton, Chief Executive Officer at Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region
Women's Crisis Services is so grateful to be the charity partner for the WOMEN TALKING film screening + speaker event. We have been partnered with Bonn Park before to mutually support each other's podcasts. We are honoured to be able to work together again along with other folks from the region to get the community talking!
This event is very meaningful to us; we often talk about the importance of having hard conversations to change public perception. And it's a fantastic example of bringing the community to host these important conversations. For our organization, it’s difficult to celebrate this day without also recognizing the increasing violence that women, gender diverse individuals and children are facing in our region and beyond.
For us, everything we do always goes back to supporting the women and children we serve. We consistently watch strong women come into our shelter or use our Outreach services and we are proud to see them thrive as they move beyond violence. The women we support are the bravest and strongest people we know.
Many people using our services use different art forms to heal. We have a music therapist in shelter as an alternative to talk therapy and many families use this program to work through the trauma they've experienced. Our child and youth team utilizes arts and crafts and other creative platforms to start conversations and support development.
We have recently started our Moving Forward Scholarship that encourages any past or current clients who are going back to school to apply, and they may receive scholarships up to $500 for any program that they're interested in. We try to empower women to pursue anything that is of interest to them and oftentimes this is a creative outlet that they otherwise wouldn't get the opportunity to pursue.
For Women's Crisis Services, 2023 is another busy year for us! On March 1st we launch the newest series of our podcast, She Is Your Neighbour. This series is called Understanding Femicide and explores what happens when domestic violence becomes lethal.
The series is six episodes long and you will hear inspiring stories from survivors, experts, and family members of women and girls who lost their lives to femicide.
Tune in at sheisyourneighbour.com to learn how they have persevered in the darkest times and managed to take action following these tragedies.
Events like International Women's Day WOMEN TALKING film screening + speaker event are essential steps toward changing perceptions.
For more information on the screening, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/international-womens-day-princess-twin-cinemas-tickets-551533360127