Arts and Culture Photo Essay Student Life

Where I am Writing From

These are the desks I wrote my graduate thesis on.

​​Caro (Caroline) DeFrias is an emerging academic, artist, and curator currently based in Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyang/Montréal. They are currently in the final stages of their graduate thesis in art history at Concordia University. Previously, they achieved a Combined Honours with Distinction from the University of King’s College in the historiography of science and technology and anthropology, with a certificate in art history and visual culture, and an unofficial minor in contemporary philosophy.

Their work, through a variety of mediums and forms, explores the embodied politics and poetics of queerness, anticolonial art histories and practices, and notions of inheritance and identity in relation to immigration and (re)settlement. As well, they maintain a critical interest in the construction of the gallery space, the politics and history of display practices, embodied and queer phenomenologies of encounter, and the ethics and pathos of the archive. 

Where I am Writing From, July 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, August 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, September 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, October 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, November 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, December 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, January 2024. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, February 2024. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Arts Arts and Culture Community Student Life

Student Organized Day of Screenings: Rethinking Palestine Through Films

Don’t miss the films screened during Concordia art history student-organised week of events for Palestine.

On the week of Jan. 29, a group of Concordian art history students organised a week of events for Palestine. Their intention was to host meaningful sites of horizontal solidarity, seeking to platform Palestinian artists and stories of resistance in conversation with decolonial art histories and artworks.

Their events included a teach-in on Jan. 29, with Palestinian artists Jenin Yaseen and Sameerah Ahmad, whose work was briefly censored from the Royal Ontario Museum’s exhibition Death: Life’s Greatest Mystery, which opened on Oct. 28, for its depictions of Muslim mourning traditions and the presence of Palestinian subjects. The works of Jewish artists were also removed from display. Following an 18-hour action of solidarity where the artists and 50 supporters rallied outside the museum to challenge its censorship, the pieces were reinstalled. However, the museum placed warnings and context panels next to the artists’ works. 

At the date of this article’s publication the group will host a Day of Film Screenings in collaboration with Raah lab, Raah, a research lab aiming to examine the intersection of migratory processes and media practices, entitled “Decolonizing Memory: Heritage, Displacement and Narratives of Resistance.” The films will screen in Raah Fab, FB. 630.17. Not sure which screening to attend, or missed one you were interested in? Here are details about each screening:

12:30-2pm: The Truth: Lost at Sea (dir. Rifat Audeh, 2017) is an award-winning film that discusses the Israeli attack on the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, consisting of a convoy of six civilian boats from various nations, including Canada, carrying humanitarian aid. The Freedom Flotilla refused Israel’s demand to turn away as they neared Gaza on international waters, and were raided by Israeli Occupation Forces in an overnight attack. Numerous unarmed civilian human rights activists were killed, and the film details the story of this attack and its resulting media coverage from the perspective of one of the survivors. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the director, moderated by Claire Begbie, a PhD candidate in film studies at Concordia. 

3-4:30pm: A series of short films by Forensic Architecture, a research agency, based in Goldsmiths, University of London, which investigates human rights violations including violence committed by states, police forces, militaries, and corporations. The featured shorts focus on investigations of Palestine/Israel, including:  Conquer and Divide (2019),  Living Archeology in Gaza (2022), Executions and mass graves in Tantura, 23 May 1948 (2023), Destruction and Return in Al-Araqib (2017), Sheikh Jarrah: Ethnic Cleansing in Jerusalem (2021), and Herbicidal Warfair in Gaza (2019). These films employ cutting-edge techniques in spatial and architectural analysis, open source investigation, digital modelling, and immersive technologies, as well as documentary research, situated interviews, and academic collaboration to discuss the history and current situation in Palestine. The screening will be preceded by a presentation on Forensic Architecture by guest Dr. Tracy Valcourt.

5-6pm: Un-Documented: Unlearning Imperial Plunder (dir. Ariella Aïsha Azoulay, 2019) discusses the treatment of plundered objects in European museums and asylum seekers in the same European countries. Arguing these migrations are interrelated, the film juxtaposes the generous hospitality stolen objects receive by the same countries who deny entry and care to people to whom the objects truly belong. Un-Documented articulates the power of material culture as a bastion of human rights, illuminating the violence of plunder and the urgency of repatriation. This screening will be introduced by art history doctorate student, Alexandra Nordstrom.

6:30-8pm: La Piedra Ausente (The Absent Stone) (dir.  Sandra Rozental and Jesse Lerner, 2013), which details the 1964 theft of the Tlaloc stone, the largest carved stone of the Americas from the town of Coatlinchan to the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City. The film explores the importance of so-called ruins of the past in the present day, to shore up the living injury of extraction, the technologies of violence, and the construction of nationalism. This screening will be introduced by art history masters candidate, Karina Roman Justo.

The remainder of the week of action include a Day of Action, including zine making and letter writing, on Jan. 31; a group gallery tour of Velvet Terrorism: Pussy Riot’s Russia at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal to critically engage aesthetics of resistance on Feb. 1; and a vigil in collaboration with Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) Concordia on Feb. 2. 

Arts Arts and Culture Student Life

New Year, New Films on Campus

What to watch on campus this month.

There is perhaps no better way to start the new year, and indeed the new semester on campus, than watching some excellent films. Concordia university welcomes back its students with what is sure to be a fantastic selection of films screening on campus this month. Unfortunately, at the time of this publication, not all schedules have been released—so keep your eyes on Cinema Politica who will return on Jan. 29.

Lucky for us, on Jan. 26, in collaboration with SHIFT Concordia, the Centre for Social Transformation which supports existing and emerging social transformation initiatives and artists, there will be a screening of Aking Senakulo (2023). Film director Jela Dela Peña is currently pursuing a BFA with Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. 

Aking Senakulo is a short film they completed in their second year under the supervision of Professor Marianna Milhorat. The film is a speculative experimental exploration of Indigenous Filipino ancestry, queerness, isolation and belonging juxtaposed with the everlooming spectres of religions and colonial histories and powers. The brief synopsis shared by Dela Peña on the director’s website paints a haunting image of what is sure to be an excellent film:

In a church, the golden light hits a figure’s wing scars. Their rosary sways from one hand, as sounds of leather against skin rings throughout the air. As they reach the altar on their knees, their hands come together in lieu of prayer. They find themselves transported to a place where they share food offerings and intimate touches with another being.”

The screening will be preceded by opening remarks from the director and followed by a Q&A session.

A welcome back to campus cannot forget to include catching this incredible film by a Concordian student, as well as the other excellent films Cinema Politic is soon to screen.

Arts Arts and Culture Community Student Life

December films at Concordia

What to watch on campus this month.

As the year comes to a close and exams, final papers and projects loom ever nearer, there are a number of excellent films screening on campus to help motivate you through your finals and make the long, cold and dark nights of December a little warmer with the gentle glow of the silver screen. 

Cinema Politica, a non-profit media arts organization dedicated to socially engaged cinema, has two final screenings for their Fall 2023 programming. On Dec. 4 at 7 p.m., Cinema Politica will host the Queer Cinema for Palestine event and premiere Foggy: Palestine Solidarity, Cinema, & the Archive (72 min). This collection of short films juxtapose archival footage, re-enactments, and present and past histories into a dialogue in tribute to historic and current activism and resistances Palestinian people. 

The films include Sultana’s Reign (Hadi Moussally), Homecoming Queenz (Elias Wakeem), Tempest In A Teapot (Amy Gottlieb), Knobs & Chai (Noor Gatih),  Nazareth (Mike Hoolboom), My Whole Heart Is With You (Essa Grayeb), Even A Dog In Babylon (Lior Shamriz) and The Poem We Sang (Annie Sakkab). This screening is dedicated to the ongoing struggle for Palestinian liberation, and not only offers film viewings, but also a vibrant space to gather, to learn, to grieve and to celebrate ongoing strength and resistance together.

On Dec. 11 at 7 p.m., Cinema Politica will screen Tautuktavuk (What We See). Co-directed by Carol Kunnuk and Lucy Tulugarjuk, this film explores the story of Inuit sisters Uyarak and Saqpinak as they attempt to connect during the beginning of the pandemic, each dealing with their trauma in their own ways. The film explores the intersecting and compounding impacts of pandemic measures, intergenerational trauma, domestic and sexual abuse, primarily through a series of video chats which attempt to bridge the physical and emotional gaps.

From Nov 3 until Dec. 15, the FOFA Gallery is hosting daily screenings between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. of Looking In, Looking Out, a new Black Arts Series presented in collaboration with the NouLa Black Student Centre and the Visual Collections Repository (VCR). The screening will showcase the work of six filmmakers of the Concordia community. This selection promises to meditate on familiar emotions and experiences, intertwining word and moving image alongside pasts, presents, and potential futures to speak to the concept of Black aliveness while still honouring the nuanced multiplicity of Black experience. The films include elemental (Ra’anaa Yaminah Ekundayo), I’m Glad You’re Here (Karl Obakeng Ndebele), Mango Lemon Soda (Emem Etti, ASK ME WHAT MY NAME IS (Desirée de Jesús), Chez Dr. Bello (Badewa Ajibade), and halves & doubles (Adam Mbowe). The series explores themes of intergenerational strength and trauma, personal grief, collective love, and more. 

More information about these films and events can be found on Cinema Politica and FOFA Gallery’s websites. With only a few weeks left in the semester, make sure to catch these films before the end of term.

Arts Arts and Culture Culture Student Life

November films: What you may have missed and what’s coming up

Did you manage to catch all the films screening on campus this month?

Many exciting films were screened on campus this month. Cinema Politica’s Montreal chapter, founded in 2004 at Concordia University, screened Labor (dir. Trove Pils, 2023), a Swedish film which explores sex work, sexual exploration and self discovery as protagonist Hanna moves to San Francisco on Nov. 6, and La bataille de La Plaine (The Battle of La Plaine, dir. Sandra Ach, Nicolas Burlaud and Thomas Hakenholz., 2021), a French documentary which follows the gentrification and resistance efforts of the district of La Plaine in Marseille, France, on Nov. 13. 

Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema screened Geographies of Solitude (dir. Jacquelyn Mills, 2022) on Nov. 10. Mills graduated from Concordia’s BFA program in 2008. Her film is a documentary about Sable Island and Zoe Lucas, the woman who has spent a large part of her life studying and documenting everything about it. Mill’s film is an immersion into this life and its landscapes.

One screening remains for November: The Society of the Spectacle (dir. Roxy Farhat and Göran Hugo Olsson, 2023). On Monday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m., Cinema Politica will host the Montréal premiere the latest film from acclaimed Swedish director Göran Hugo Olsson and acclaimed artist Roxy Farhat. The film is an adaptation of Guy Debord’s prophetic 1967 essay La Société du Spectacle (translated as The Society of Spectacle), which is an indictment of the image-saturated consumer culture of his time. 

In this essay, Debord argues that representation has replaced authentic experience and interaction. The text analyses the concept of “spectacle,” which is Debord’s term for the everyday manifestation of capitalist-driven phenomena, which includes advertising, television, film and celebrity. Debord describes how spectacle functions to obfuscate the past and future into an undifferentiated mass, creating something of a hyper and perpetual present. Here, the spectacle is a social phenomenon where life recedes into a representation, which Debord describes as a “a separate pseudo-world that can only be looked at.” 

Six decades later, Olsson and Farhat utilise found footage, contemporary images and original scenes to examine and illustrate Debord’s indictment of consumerism and the ways the unending circulation of images impacts how we see ourselves and interact with each other. Images of the climate crisis and selfies are in dialogue with renowned scholars, as Olsson and Farhat unpack the society of the spectacle. 

Visit the Cinema Politica on Nov. 27 to witness Olsson and Farhat’s attempt at the daunting challenge of creating a film tackling a complex theory that critiques the notion of image itself. Cinema Politica asks that audiences wear a mask to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 


This article marks the start of a regular column at The Concordian, where I will round up films screening at and around Concordia. Stay tuned for December films coming in our next print issue.

Arts and Culture Student Life Theatre

The Rocky Horror Picture Show returns to Concordia!

FASA teamed up with CAST to put on a smashing live production of the legendary 1975 film.

Stilted dialogue, heavy makeup, fishnets, cheap wigs, sequences, musical numbers that just grasp the right keys, and dialogue so stiff it might crumble if you take it too seriously—nearly 50 years after its original release, the musical comedy tribute to science fiction films of the 30s and B movies from the late 40s to early 70s, The Rocky Horror Picture Show returns to Concordia for another year. 

To celebrate the excellent shadow performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show from Fine Arts Student Alliance (FASA) x Concordia Association of Student in Theatre (CAST) on Oct. 27, we will journey into a brief history of the film and how it became a cult classic to screen and perform every year on Halloween. Indeed, not despite, but rather because of the glorious gender-bending oddities of this film, Rocky Horror is a cultural powerhouse.

CAST actors reenacted Tthe Rocky Horror Picture Show. Courtesy of CAST. Photos by Ian McCormack and Kaleigh Wiens.

Originally titled They Came from Denton High, Richard O’Brien began work on a busy script to keep himself occupied between gigs. Something of an homage to his childhood of science fiction, rock and roll, B movies, and struggles with sexual identity, O’Brien eventually shared the script with theatre director Jim Sharman who saw the play’s potential and reserved a space in London’s Royal Court Theatre for O’Brien to bring the show to life. The original runtime was a mere 40 minutes, but the cast was more concerned with fun than phenomenal success. 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show originally premiered in a small 60-seat venue, but quickly moved onto larger venues in London. The musical comedy horror caught the attention of Ode Records owner Lou Adler, who, charmed by the unique and campy heart of the performance, decided to purchase the U.S. theatrical rights to the show. He and film producer Michael White loved the musical so much that they wanted it adapted for the silver screen. 20th Century Fox did not share this faith, and gave the project a small budget of $1.6 million and six weeks to film. 

The film was finished without much oversight from the studio, and premiered at the UA Westwood Theatre in L.A in September 1975. The studio claimed that many of the people attending the sold-out shows were repeat offenders, but other test screenings received poor reviews from critics and general audiences. The national release was quickly cancelled, but the film continued screening at the Waverly Theatre (now called the IFC Center), an arthouse theatre specializing in midnight shows to salvage some money. 

From here, The Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings became, and continue to be, something of a festival. Adoring fans return screening after screening, year after year, making friends with other loyal fans of the mesmerizing dialogue and cues. This has led to the creation of a community who gathered around this film to celebrate and lovingly mock its quirks. Eventually, this has also evolved into playful heckling—for which the film is perhaps best known—as fans shout at the screen to mock the film, dialogue, and characters. 

The heckling tradition began with Louis Fariz yelling “Buy an umbrella you cheap bitch” to Janet, played by Susan Saradon, as she held a newspaper over her head as a shield from the rain. This became a culture of quick quips and other funny remarks intended to get a laugh out of the audience. Next, fans began dressing up like the film’s characters and eventually shadow-acting the film underneath the stage. Word quickly spread about the spectacle of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and midnight screenings popped up across the United States and into other countries, as many were interested to experience the antics and freedom of a film, experience, and community that centres personal expression and provides an opportunity to explore a new side of your gender and sexuality.

CAST actors reenacted Tthe Rocky Horror Picture Show. Courtesy of CAST. Photos by Ian McCormack and Kaleigh Wiens.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show creates a space to challenge social norms, to explore gender and sexual identities, and to find a community who accepts you regardless of the shade of cheap red lipstick kissing your lips. The film is the ritual, the film is the community. The film was put on wonderfully by FASA and CAST, and I recommend you catch it next year.

Arts and Culture Festival

A brief history of one of Canada’s oldest film festivals

Since 1971, Montréal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinéma has transformed audiences through their dedication to independent films, and this year was no exception.

We go to the cinema expecting to be changed in some way. To be reprieved, perhaps, from malaise, boredom, or a Tuesday afternoon with forgotten responsibilities. Or rather to be fed when hungry for new stories, perspectives, knowledges, colours, textures, and realities—or maybe that dimension of flavour in popcorn only the concession stand can produce. It may be that we wish to be held by that particular fabric that is always tender (if not a bit scratchy) or by an emotion released by a skilled performance. We go to the cinema because we seek to be transformed, even for a moment. 

Founded in 1971, the Festival du nouveau cinéma (FNC), one of Canada’s oldest film festivals, lets you do just this as it continues to reveal new explorations in the style, story, and structure of film to Montréalers and its visiting national and iInternational audience.

Originally known as the Montreal International 16mm Film Festival, founders Claude Chamberlan and Dimitri Eipides created the festival out of a desire to provide space for films possessing urgent, experimental and exciting aesthetic, narrative, and structural explorations—but lacking distribution. This first festival offered selections such as “Political and Social Cinema” and “Visual and Structural Cinema” alongside “European Short Films”—revealing a dedication to social struggle as well as to aesthetic exploration. In 1980, the festival changed its name to the Montreal International Festival of New Cinema, dropping 16mm to signify the festival’s embrace of all practices devoted to explorations in film structure and content. 

Other names through the years include the Montreal International Festival of New Film and Video (1984), New Montreal International Festival of Cinema, Video and New Technologies (1995), and Montreal International Festival of New Cinema and New Media (1997), until it was named Festival du nouveau cinéma in 2004. 

Despite these changes in names, what remains constant is an ardent devotion and respect for evolutions in cinematographic language and form. Indeed, FNC has continued to evoke empathy, excitement, and exploration at the shores of the familiar, providing festivalgoers with unique experiences for over 50 years. The urgency and importance of such a festival cannot be understated: at $13 a ticket for students (or $11 if you go in groups of ten), FNC makes the magic of cinema accessible. It provides the opportunity to learn, grow, and take an hour or two of your day to be changed, quite possibly forever.

Visit the FNC’s website here to see what films were screened this year and to check out the winners of their various contests.

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