Last Wednesday at the CSU council meeting Ezra Winton, programming coordinator of Cinema Politica, obtained permission from the CSU to put the question to students about a fee levy in the March 28th election. Students will be asked to contribute two cents per credit to help fund the group’s weekly film series.
Winton defined what Cinema Politica was about in a Concordian interview last week: “Cinema Politica is a network. It’s an Uberculture project that is a network of film series at eight different schools and cultural centres in Canada. The Cinema Politica group at Concordia will still be part of this network, but it is going to be an independent node, with it’s own separate funding and its own separate group of co-sponsors.”
Last Monday, Cinema Politica screened Darwin’s Nightmare in front of a crowd of more than 600 students in H-110.
“It’s a popular series with students,” Winton said, “and not just with ‘lefty’ students, but with a pretty diverse group of Concordian students. It’s a space for discussion and debate on campus. As the campus slowly gets more and more sterilized.there is a decreasing amount of space on campus that students can actually engage in political discussion and debate. We want Cinema Politica to continue to be a forum for that.”
When asked how he knew that not only left wing students attend the screenings Winton replied: “First of all I see people and I talk to people. We get a lot of first year students. I get a lot of people that come up to us at the screenings and say: ‘Wow! I am totally not involved in politics, I didn’t know anything about the issues in this film, and now I want to get involved.’ And that’s why I started the series almost six years ago. I saw the power of film to inspire and get people involved in politics. So people are not coming here with their minds made up. Film is a very good medium to attract a diverse range of people, politically or otherwise.”
If the fee levy is accepted by students, Cinema Politica will become distinct from Uberculture with it’s own board of directors. The Concordia Cinema Politica Student Society (CCPSS) would create a board of directors to administer the CCPSS annual budget to be collected by the Concordia Student Union. They would also provide a viewing library of all films purchased with the CCPSS budget, to be kept on display and available for in-house screenings for Concordia students to view, them at the CUTV offices.
The board would submit an independent audit to the CSU at the end of their financial year. “The fact that Cinema Politica would become it’s own entity with a distinct board of directors is really the point,” said Noah Stewart, CSU Arts councillor, “Cinema Politica has become an integral part of Concordia. It has spread to other universities across Canada and has been mentioned in MacLeans magazine. This aside however, it is really up to the students to decide and I am quite satisfied that they are being given that choice.”
The board of directors would be appointed by the co-sponsoring groups, the Uberculture Collective Concordia, Concordia University Television and the Concordia Documentary Centre and Institute. They would select a programming director to curate the screenings who’s tenure would be for one year. “I think one thing we would do if we got the fee levy is that we would provide some kind of forum for more input from the student body on films. At screenings people could fill out a form, so they can suggest a film, and also through the website. It would be a good idea to have the curator include a certain percentage of films chosen by the student body every semester,” said Winton.
Similar groups, such as the People’s Potato, Sustainable Concordia and student newspapers obtain moneys from students to finance their projects. The two cents fee levy is very low compared to other levies. For example, every student pays twenty five cents a credit for the People’s Potato, ten cents for The Concordian and nineteen cents for The Link.
CSU president Mohamed Shuriye commented on the usefulness of fee levies. “I think Council did the right thing by letting it go to a vote to the general members of the CSU. However, I’m concerned that we have no monitoring mechanisms for fee levies. Groups come to council to ask for a fee levy, some are approved for a vote and proceed to win a referendum, start collecting their funds and council and the executive never hear form them again. There must be instituted for the student’s sake some sort of procedure. We must hold fee levy seekers to a high level of accountability.”
“I think that any association or group that submits a budget to the CSU should permit students to take a look that budget. For example if I put two cents a credit, how are they spending my money?” said Winton.
The question about the fee levy will be posed to students on the electoral ballot, March 28, 29, 30.
The figures below show how the CCPSS would break down its budget if the fee levy is approved.
Renting H-110 and paying for a projectionist: $4,000
Screening fees for the films: $2,000
Buying the films: $1,500
Printing the programs: $2,000
Promotion of events: $1,500
Speaker fees and transportation: $1,000
Total proposed operating budget: $12,000