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fredericton 16/01/2016 - 02:15PM

Cinema Politica Fredericton featured in "The Daily Gleaner"

Learning all about Syria's refugee crisis through film
The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)
Fri Jan 15 2016
Page: C1
Section: Features
Byline: Lori Gallagher

The Syrian refugee crisis is a hot topic these days, seen in the news, on Facebook, and just about everywhere you turn.

With all the information out there, it can be hard to wade through, to figure out what's fact, what's fiction and what it means locally.

Cinema Politica Fredericton is helping to get to the heart of things on Friday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m., with the screening of the 52-minute documentary The Suffering Grasses, followed by a discussion and update on the Syrian situation with members of Refugees Welcome Fredericton.

Filmed in early 2012, The Suffering Grasses captures the competing impulses among opponents of the Assad regime at the onset of the Syrian revolution. While conditions in the country are continually changing and evolving, the film serves as an early, intimate view of Syria's refugee crisis.

"Actually it's one of the few films that we're bringing back," says Tracy Glynn, the co-organizer of Cinema Politica Fredericton. "We screened it a couple of years ago."

At that time, the members of Cinema Politica Fredericton were concerned about what was happening in Syria, she says.

"A Canadian journalist had given a talk in Fredericton about another place, Palestine, but she had lived in Syria and she was telling us about the situation in Syria, this was maybe 2012 or 2013," says Glynn.

As this is one of the films on the Cinema Politica shelf, the local group had access to it.

"Just the title of the film, The Suffering Grasses, points to the saying that when elephants go to war, the grass suffers," she says. "We see a number of the world's powers involved in the war in Syria. We see the immense human toll. This film tells the story of the struggles but also of the resilience of the Syrian refugees."

The film takes the viewer right to Syria, to the refugee camps, she says, to give people a picture of what that really means.

Cinema Politica Fredericton will take it further still, with a discussion to follow the screening.

"I'm involved with Refugees Welcome Fredericton and we'll have other members present and after the film we can give updates. Because the film was made in 2012, so unfortunately, things got a lot worse in Syria," says Glynn. "We'll talk about that and we'll talk about why Canadians, why these people in Fredericton, should be concerned and how they can get involved too in welcoming Syrian refugees to Fredericton."

It's a great opportunity for people who want to learn more about this subject and aren't sure where to begin.

"That's always been one of the goals of Cinema Politica, because we realize we're a small group of activists in Fredericton. We're committed to social change. We see a lot of problems in our communities and the world and we want more people to join us in that," says Glynn.

"I think it is a way for us all to come together to learn through documentaries. They're very informative and also inspiring, just witnessing through the film the struggles of people and how they overcome the challenges they face in their lives. It inspires us to continue our work too."

If you're not familiar with Cinema Politica Fredericton, the group does exactly what its name implies.

"We screen political documentaries in Fredericton. We're one of the longest running locals of Cinema Politica. We're been around for eight years now. We screen films on Friday nights during the university semesters," says Glynn. "Cinema Politica itself was started by a group of students at Concordia University in Montreal and now there are Cinema Politica locals all around the world. It's the largest campus community documentary screening network in the world."

Glynn is one of the founders of Cinema Politica Fredericton.

"We wanted to bring people together to talk about important issues in a way that was comfortable for people. Coming out to a meeting, sometimes people don't feel so comfortable doing that, but a film screening is a welcoming way to have people come in," she says. "Then we usually have somebody from the community present to facilitate a discussion after the film screening."

On occasion, the discussions end up being even more rich than the film, she says.

"Sometimes people will have interesting reflections, they might agree or disagree with what's presented in the films," she says.

"We screen films from all around the world on a diverse range of topics from a progressive position."

The film screenings have also proven to be a great way of collaborating with all kinds of different groups in the city.

"This semester we're collaborating with AIDS New Brunswick, the National Farmer's Union and even The Playhouse. They're opening up their venue for a special Monday night film screening about the impacts of genetically modified food as part of events that they're doing at The Playhouse on that topic," says Glynn.

Everyone is welcome to come out to the Cinema Politica Fredericton screenings.

"We have our regulars and we also have new people every week who come out, just depending on if it's a topic that interests people," she says.

The Suffering Grasses will be shown on Friday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. at 181 St. John St. This film is in Arabic and shown with English subtitles.

Films are free to the public, but donations are welcome to help with network membership fees.

To learn more about Cinema Politica or to see a list of upcoming films that will be shown in the city, visit There is also a Cinema Politica Fredericton page on Facebook, which is updated weekly to what film will be shown next.

© 2016 The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)


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