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network 03/04/2018 - 09:00PM

Local Spotlight: CP Charlottetown

Cinema Politica Charlottetown functions as a collective of Prince Edward Island groups working for environmental and social justice. It’s an impressive and diverse array: Sierra Club, CUPE Global Justice, Citizens' Alliance of PEI, Council of Canadians, and the University of Prince Edward Island’s Environmental Society and Aboriginal Students’ Association and the Island Peace Committee. Various other organizations have co-hosted film screenings - the PEI Abortion Rights Network, Holland College Green Machine, the PEI Food Security Network and Prince Edward Island Black Islanders.

Ann Wheatley is a community organizer with Cooper Institute, a social justice group that has provided coordination since the CP local launched in 2011. She says, “There’s a lot of fluidity in our membership, and one of the spin-offs is the opportunities that are created for people to connect with local organizations that are working on different, really critical issues.”

The mandate of CP Charlottetown is “to screen films that offer critical reflection and commentary within our community and to create opportunities for dialogue; selecting films that deepen analysis, discourse, and hopefully inform action on local concerns but also that connect our experiences here to broader global analyses”. Despite some obvious challenges, such as finding accessible, well-equipped, comfortable and free space to screen films, the collective has become a vital part of the Charlottetown scene, and the Island-wide movement for positive change on all fronts – environmental, social and political.

The collective strives for a balance in the films it chooses, but films dealing with the environment tend to bring out the biggest crowds. The March 2018 screening of BLUEFIN was by far our best-attended event. Over 150 people turned out to watch the film, which was introduced by its director, John Hopkins, who happens to be from Prince Edward Island. Bluefin was filmed in North Lake, PEI, and several people featured in the film were in the audience.

It was a perfect illustration of why Cinema Politica and documentary film is so important.  After the screening, John talked about his motivation in making the film. “The fisherman wanted to have a voice. I offered them a chance to share their concerns, opinions and observations. I said would do that honestly and with as much integrity as I could. In exchange, I said that I would be also consulting with scientists who might not agree with their views. They were OK with that and in fact encouraged me to bring the scientists to North Lake because they wanted to speak to them directly.” 

“As an observer of all of this, I was tired of the us or them scenario of conflict. I felt it was about time fishermen and scientists came together and spoke to each other face-to-face so they could use that breadth of their combined knowledge. And within this dialogue, move forward together and in a sensible way for the benefit of fishermen, fishing and conserving ocean wildlife.”


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