Queen’s hosts first Diversity & Inclusion Film Festival

Week-long film festival focuses on portraying various cultures

Queen of Katwe details a young girl’s rise from poverty to world chess master.
Screenshot from Youtube

From March 20-28, the Diversity and Inclusion Film Festival (DIFF) hosted a tour of world cultures from Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) Hall in the JDUC. 

The event featured five films: Bran Nue Dae, Queen of Katwe, About Elly, Confucius and Cairo Drive, each one set in a different country, representing a variety of different cultures from around the world. 

According to DIFF organizer Atul Jaiswal, the new film festival had the intention of promoting diversity and inclusion on campus. 

As SGPS International Student Affairs Commissioner, Jaiswal was originally inspired to organize the festival because of his role in the support and advocacy for students on campus. He noticed an abundance of unique cultures present at Queen’s but not a lot of space to share that.

To remedy this lack of cultural representation, DIFF was set up in collaboration with QUIC and Four Directions. The students involved hail from Africa, China and the Middle East, reflecting the cultures onscreen. 

The week’s films were selected by the groups to showcase the diversity present at Queen’s. The intention was to increase awareness and sensitivity for students from cultures outside of mainstream Canadian culture. 

“We intend to use movies as a tool to showcase the culture unique to a specific region so people can appreciate each other’s culture and start accepting and including everyone,” Jaiswal told The Journal over email.

Although the festival’s line-up was thematically diverse, each film featured different regions of the world and the norms that exist in those places. They worked to tell a wide range of stories, from an Aboriginal Australian youth in the 60s to the legendary Chinese philosopher Confucius. 

The movies in DIFF were all accompanied by following a panel discussion. The moderators made up of local and international students  were given a chance to use the films shown as a catalyst for being able to speak about their cultures.

“Each film screening is accompanied by a panel discussion led by students and faculty facilitators from the same culture to engage audience on the cultural understanding — for example, for the first movie, Bran Nue Dae, we had an Indigenous faculty member at Queen’s, Dr. Karine Bertrand along with Laura Maracle from Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre as our facilitators,” Jaiswal explained.

When choosing the movies for the week-long festival, it was important to Jaiswal and the remaining organizers that the films accurately portrayed the portraits of people from each region. 

“In this technology - driven world, we were mindful of choosing a movie that has some meaning, i.e. portrays the real life of people of that world, and engages the audience so that they want to know more about it”, Jaiswal commented.

DIFF worked to present an authentic look at the diverse cultures represented by the student body. According to Jaiswal, the event was a success, and well received by people on campus.

“With the support of our current collaborators and student volunteers, we hope to make this “Diversity and Inclusion Film Festival an annual event at Queen’s,” Jaiswal concluded.

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