Cinema Politica tackles issues of homelessness

The final instalment of the Cinema Politica series featured Carts of Darkness, a documentary that exposes the realities of homelessness in Vancouver and also explores the new extreme sport of downhill shopping cart racing that has been quickly gaining popularity.

Originally based out of Montreal, Cinema Politica is an organization dedicated to the screening of films with a political component. The KW chapter is co-ordinated by professors Tanya Richardson and Derek Hall of the anthropology and political science department respectively.

“The main thing that [Carts of Darkness] does is that it humanizes a situation that is so often dehumanized,” Hall explained.

“It really gives you the opportunity to see how homeless people live, to get a sense of their views on their situation and deepen your knowledge of the issue in that way rather than through statistics and policy papers.”

The documentary represents a revisit to the style undertaken by the first film in the Cinema Politica series, Please Vote for Me, a film experimenting with democracy in a Chinese primary school class.

As with Please Vote for Me, Carts of Darkness’s director integrated himself into the lives of the film’s subjects.

“We are interested in movies that take an ethnographic approach — that are based not so much on experts, talking heads and interviews but based on spending long periods of time with the people and really getting to know their lives in a deeper sense,” Hall added.

Carts of Darkness arrives at a time when awareness for homeless individuals is at its height.

The Wilfrid Laurier School of Business and Economics launched its annual charity event, Five Days for the Homeless, this past Sunday in the Quad. “We were certainly happy that [the film] coincided with the campaign,” Hall said.

The Cinema Politica series has shown six documentaries thus far. Highlights include H2Oil, a film exposing the adverse effects of mining the Albertan tar sands and Exit through the Giftshop, an alleged “prankumentary” featuring the elusive graffiti artist Banksy.

While the series has ended for this school year, Cinema Politica has enjoyed a strong following from the outset last September. “We’re really happy with the interest that there’s been this year,” Hall added.

“With the number of people that have come out so far we definitely think there’s a place for Cinema Politica in Kitchener-Waterloo and here at Laurier, so I think it would be great to have it keep going next year,” he concluded.

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