Friday, June 2, 2017

Get out the popcorn - Initiatives of Change Australia is screening a series of documentary films over the winter season! Katrina Grantham has the details.

The ‘mini-season’ of three films – two from Australia and one from France - focus on different aspects of personal development and action for change in the world. Each film will be followed by a discussion with individuals who have been involved in taking action on that issue.

Screenings will take place on Saturday evenings in the ballroom at ‘Armagh,’ a early 20th-century Toorak mansion that now serves as the Asia-Pacific regional centre for Initiatives of Change. Once the family home of industrialist Cecil MacKay, Armagh was gifted to the organization in 1956 for use as a base for its peace building work, and has hosted many visiting activists, faith leaders and live-in community members over the years.

“In 2016 we began screening films over the winter season as a way to open this space to people who aren’t directly involved in our programs,” said Delia Paul, communications manager at IofC Australia. “It’s also been an opportunity to hear from some inspiring individuals. For example, our last screening had Melbourne film maker Steve Thomas speak with us about the people who featured in his ‘Freedom Stories’ film, alongside Naz Nazir of the Afghan-Australia Initiative, reflecting on how he works to build trust across different groups in the Afghan community.

“The Initiatives of Change approach emphasizes personal action and personal responsibility for fixing what is broken in our world. Finding encouragement from other people’s stories is one way that we start.”

This time around, the films focus on themes of environmental sustainability, trauma recovery, and settling in to Australia.

‘Demain’ (Tomorrow) is a French-made film that shows the journey of a group of young French parents who explore the world in search of solutions that can save their children and future generations from ecosystem collapse. Travelling through France, Reunion Island, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, India, the UK, the US, Switzerland, Sweden and Iceland, they discover homegrown experiments in agriculture, energy, education and inclusive cities, which together promise a new story of the future.

A Q&A session afterwards will focus on experiences from Initiatives of Change Australia’s ‘Sustainable Impact Mentoring’ programme, which supports individuals to carry out their own projects for environmental sustainability.

‘The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe’ follows four charismatic women from four African countries – Yarrie, Aminata, Yordanos and Rosemary – as they turn their stories of survival into a joyous theatre production in Sydney. The Melbourne International Film Festival called this film ‘harrowing and life-affirming in equal measure,’ as its stars, ‘women of uncommon courage and charisma…transform their trauma into something cleansing, forceful and awe-inspiring.’

This film screened in Australian cinemas in 2016, and the Creators of Peace network screened it in Adelaide in May 2017 to over 100 people. Another screening is to take place in Brisbane in July. Rosemary Kariuki-Fyfe, one of the stars of the film, has been involved in Creators of Peace, and will be present to speak at the Melbourne and Brisbane screenings.

Rosemary Kariuki-Fyfe (right) is one of four charismatic and inspiring women in The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe. Rosemary will be present for Q&A after the screenings.

‘Freedom Stories’ shorts are a series of six short films about former asylum seekers from the Middle East who were detained on arrival to Australia. The films depict their experiences of mandatory detention, the uncertainty of being on temporary protection visas, and the new lives they have built since then. A speaker (TBC) will provide an update on the situation for asylum seekers to Australia.