Cinema Politica: Our Bodies are your Battlefields

The documentary Our Bodies are your Battlefields, screened by Cinema Politica, shows the lives of trans women in Argentina fighting for their rights and to be accepted

Image from the official trailer for “Our Bodies are Your Battlefields”

Cinema Politica screened the premiere of the documentary Our Bodies are your Battlefields on Monday, March 6 in the atrium of the Hall Building. Cinema Politica is a media arts non-profit which screens a selection of independent political films. The local at Concordia, active since 2004, is Cinema Politica’s longest running film showcase, attracting hundreds of people to their weekly screening throughout the semester. 

The film, written and directed by Isabelle Solas, shows the lives of trans activists Claudia and Violeta, as well as those of their compatriots, in their daily political struggle for acceptance in Argentina. Despite the reality of discrimination they face from upholders of the patriarchal society and trans-exclusionary feminists, among others, they manage to fight for political progress and form community with each other.

The films’ intimate portrayal of these women in both their activism and relationship to one another rings authentic. The different relationships these women have with their friends, families and each other demonstrates a vast diversity of trans experiences — something that is rarely shown and so often ignored. Claudia is close with her mother who supports her and her cause, whereas many other trans people were shunned or kicked out of their homes. They had to turn to sex work for survival, and have strived together for support and political activism in the community.

The screening was followed by a Q&A with two speakers, Anaïs Zeledon Montenegro and Elle Barbara, from the Action Santé Travesti(e)s et Transexuel(le)s du Québec (ASTT(e)Q), a project under CACTUS Montréal. ASSTT(e)Q is run by and for trans people, to help trans people in need of healthcare and social services. The program’s core funding is being cut in April and they are collecting donations.

Barbara shared how she related to the protagonists of the film since, prior to working at ASTT(e)Q, they were heavily involved in the grassroots project Taking What We Need which organized parties and fundraisers to give money to low-income trans feminine people in Montreal. This allowed Barbara to politicize transness. 

“That’s what transness was like to me, it is intrinsically political. And in that regard, I find the experiences depicted in the documentary are similar.”

Montenegro, who also has experience being on the streets, shared the importance of greeting people with love at ASTT(e)Q. 

“We’re trying to do our best at ASTT(e)Q to make people think that there’s hope. That’s what we talk about: hope.”

The Cinema Politica film screenings are always free with the possibility to contribute donations at the venue. Their funding also comes from the Canada Council for the Arts and membership  fees.

Upcoming Cinema Politica screenings can be found on their website. 


“Queerify” your clothes with Queer Concordia

Queer Concordia, in partnership with the Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse, held an event on March 7 that allowed people to “queerify” and decorate their clothes for free

Queer Concordia held an event on March 7 in collaboration with the Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse (CUCCR) to give students the opportunity to “queerify” their old garments with free patches, pins, paint and more.

The event, made possible by one of Queer Concordia’s event coordinators Jessica Winton, was a way for Concordia’s queer community to meet, join and craft together. 

“I think a lot of queer people are afraid of showing their pride in smaller ways, so it’s an encouraging environment when you have multiple people doing it at once so you don’t feel alone, and you can meet people while doing it,” said Winton.

Queer Concordia is a resource centre on campus for queer students and allies. They host different events and parties throughout the year and even have office hours. In addition to the ‘“queerify your clothes” event, they’ve also organized movie nights, greenhouse hangouts and laser tag, to name a few.

A handful of people attended the event to decorate their clothing with an assortment of pride flag iron-on patches, colourful threads and buttons. Some of the attendees were veterans of Queer Concordia events, while others were newcomers.

Isabella Bortot, an exchange student from Italy, attended her first Queer Concordia event to fix up an old pair of jeans. “I love embroidery and I love the fact that it was a queer event because I’ve been meaning to get in touch with my community since I’ve been here a couple of months,” she said.

Queer spaces not only build community, but they can also save lives. According to The Trevor Project, LGBTQ+ youth aged 13 to 24 years old report lower rates of suicide attempts when they can access LGBTQ+-affirming spaces.

These spaces can also help people feel less alone and build new connections. “I’m someone who had to abandon all of my friends when I came out as trans,” said Winton, “So, I know that if I wasn’t socialising at queer events, I probably wouldn’t have very many.”

For Bortot, even if she believes every university event should be a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community, she still finds value in queer events.

“As a minority, we find our strength in our community, in people that are like us, and so to be able to bond with people that are like us is to be stronger and to find our place in this city,” she said.

This event offers a change from alcohol-centered queer events. “It’s very important for people with anxiety, or people like myself who don’t drink, to try and have these more relaxed spaces rather than nightlife,” said Winton.

Upcoming Queer Concordia events can be found on their Instagram and other social media pages.


Laundry, taxes and googly eyes: frontrunners for the Oscars

The film Everything, Everywhere All at Once received 11 Oscar nominations, making the film the frontrunner for the upcoming Academy Awards

Everything, Everywhere All at Once is the frontrunner for the 2023 Academy Awards, the film received 11 nominations, four of which in the big five categories: best picture, best director, best screenplay and best lead actress.

The 2023 ceremony marks a historic year for Asian actors, with four receiving nominations — the most in the history of the award show. Everything, Everywhere All at Once actress Michelle Yeoh received a lead actress nomination for her role as Evelyn Wang and, if she were to win the Oscar, she would be the first Asian actress to do so. 

She shared her feelings on the nomination in an interview with The New York Times. “Of course, I’m over the moon, but I feel a little sad because I know we know there have been amazing actresses from Asia that come before me, and I stand on their shoulders,” she said.

Three more Everything, Everywhere All at Once actors received nominations: Stephanie Hsu and Jamie Lee Curtis for best supporting actress and Ke Huy Quan for best supporting actor.

Yeoh shared her experience working with Quan on the Los Angeles Times’ podcast The Envelope. “Before ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ came out, there weren’t even stories like this that were told. So I am very proud of Ke. He saw the opportunity and he ran for it. But what I’m saying is: Give us more opportunities.”

The film — written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert —  premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) on March 11, 2022 and released in the United States on April 8, 2022. 

Everything, Everywhere All at Once follows the story of Evelyn Wang, a laundromat owner, who is visited by a version of her husband Waymond Wang, played by Quan, who needs her help to save the multiverse. However, at the core of the bright colours, googly eyes and elaborate costumes is a story of love, family and acceptance.  

The languages spoken in the film switch between Mandarin, English and Cantonese. “It is very confusing when you are watching it at the beginning, but we wanted you to feel that. We wanted you to step into what is a real representation of what an Asian immigrant family would be at home,” said Yeoh on The Envelope.  

Everything, Everywhere All at Once received almost universal acclaim and is already doing well this awards season, with Yeoh and Quan having already won Golden Globes for their performances. 

Quan’s emotional acceptance speech pulled on many heartstrings, with him thanking Steven Spielberg for giving him his first role as a child actor in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He shared how he long felt it was impossible to surpass his childhood accomplishments, and thanked Kwan and Scheinert for giving him “an opportunity to try again.”

The 2023 Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, will air on March 12 at 8 p.m.


Glass Onion and the pellucid greed of the one percent

Netflix’s newest mystery film includes some interesting class commentary, but it doesn’t live up to its predecessor

Glass Onion, the sequel to the 2019 murder-mystery Knives Out, is making the rounds after a limited-theatre run and a Netflix release at the end of December. It follows the same skeleton as its predecessor — the detective Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig, investigates a murder amongst a group of out-of-touch rich people, only this time it takes place on a billionaire’s private island in the middle of the pandemic.

It continues the current trend of criticizing the upper class, seen in HBO’s The White Lotus and Palme d’Or winner Triangle of Sadness. This criticism, not entirely new, has recently been reignited due to the rising cost of living and post-pandemic inflation.

The film starts with the billionaire Miles Bron, played by Edward Norton, sending all his friends a box of riddles. Upon solving, the box opens to reveal an invitation to a murder-mystery party held on his private island, reminiscent of Kim Kardashian’s controversial birthday party at the height of COVID-19. On the way to the island, the friend group meets Benoit Blanc and a woman named Andi, played by Janelle Monáe, who is revealed to be the true brains behind Bron’s company Alpha.

Glass Onion is not a bad film — it currently has a critics score of 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. However,  it does fall short of the greatness of its predecessor. This difference in quality leads to an underwhelming yet enjoyable movie-watching experience that would be reduced had Glass Onion been a stand-alone film. 

The glass onion, which stands tall at the centre of Miles Bron’s island, is used as a metaphor to criticize the characters’ wealth and belief systems. Whereas an onion demands you peel away at its layers to reveal the centre, one can look right through glass with no effort. The character of Miles Bron is portrayed by the media as being a genius businessman and a true visionary, when he is, in fact, a fraud who is only rich and successful because of someone else’s idea. He is nowhere near as intelligent, complex, or disruptive as he pretends to be. He is a glass onion.

Bron calls himself and his friends disruptors, for he believes that they challenge norms and are brave and successful for doing so. However, in reality, they are upholding the status quo. There is nothing disruptive about being a corrupt politician, like Katheryn Hahn’s character Claire, or upholding patriarchal gender ideals, like Dave Bautista’s character Duke Cody. Their success is  due to the fact that they prioritize the power, influence and money of being friends with a man like Miles Bron over doing what is right. They are all, as Monáe’s character puts it, “holding on for dear life to Miles Bron’s golden titties.”

Netflix has already purchased the rights to a third film in the franchise, so this is not the end of Benoit Blanc.

Briefs News

Students are buzzing for the new Hive Café

The Hive Café has finally opened its doors on the Loyola campus with a fully affordable vegetarian menu

The new location of the Hive Café finally opened on Jan. 23 on the second floor of the CJ building at Loyola Campus. 

The café, which is open Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., mirrors the same menu as the downtown location with a selection of sandwiches, soups, salads and sweets, as well as coffee and cold drinks. 

The Hive Café strives to be as sustainable as possible by offering only vegetarian and vegan options and by prioritizing locally sourced ingredients. 

“We work closely with our local suppliers and producers, so we can maintain affordable food for students while keeping our costs low,” said Calvin Clarke, the café’s manager. “Within the competitive environment of restoration, that can be difficult sometimes, but that is a priority for us.” 

“They also strive to be allergen friendly,” said Clarke. “We have a nut-free kitchen both for the Hive and also the Hive free lunch.”

The Hive Café Co-op offers a membership program for users. Students can purchase a ten-dollar membership card which gives them access to ten per cent off on all products sold at the café for life. 

The café was supposed to open last semester, but did not. According to Clarke, the main reason for the delay was due to lengthy negotiations with the administration for the signing of the lease. 

“It was kind of a difficult situation for us,” he said. “We figured that the best thing was to say we’re going to open up in the winter semester, and we’ll be true to our word for that.” 

The Hive is a cooperative that strives to provide fair labour, according to Clarke. “That’s always a priority for us, and within our board of directors we do have worker member seats, right now five seats available for worker members.”

The Hive invites all of its members to an annual general meeting (AGM), which is usually in October or November. An AGM is a meeting where the status of a company or Co-op is shared with all members and they make decisions on its future.


Montreal bars: forgetting the sapphic experience

Montreal does not currently have a single lesbian bar, pushing the experiences of lesbian and sapphic people under the rug.

Despite being considered one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world, with many gay bars and a queer neighbourhood named the Village, Montreal does not have a lesbian bar. Indeed, the city’s last one, The Drugstore, closed in 2013 and no other lesbian or sapphic bar has opened since. This is a huge departure from 1988, when there were eight active lesbian bars in Montreal. Dr. Julie A. Podmore, an affiliate assistant professor at Concordia specializing in urban studies and human geography, refers to it as the “golden-age of lesbian-visibility” in a 2006 study called  “Gone ‘underground’? Lesbian visibility and the consolidation of queer space in Montréal.”

Today, Montreal’s lesbian and sapphic community can meet through different events thrown by organizations like ElleLui, L nights or Sweet Like Honey, amongst others. These events allow for greater gender and racial diversity than most of the sex-segregated bars of the 1980s and ’90s. But their temporary nature doesn’t allow the community a permanent safe place to gather. 

The Quebec Lesbian Network (RLQ) is an organization who represents queer women all over the province and speaks to different social and political entities to defend their rights and welfare. Cynthia Eysseric, the executive assistant of the RLQ shared her concerns. “It’s so important to create a community, and I think women of sexual diversity are really looking for that, to be in community with people who understand them and have the same reality.” 

The Disappearance of Lesbian Bars

It’s not clear what led to the disappearance of lesbian bars in Montreal. In the same study mentioned previously, Dr. Podmore describes gentrification as a potential factor since most lesbian bars were found in the Plateau neighbourhood. The 1980s and ’90s brought many middle-class individuals to the Le-Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, regardless of gender and sexuality. It soon became one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Montreal. In contrast, the Village, where most of the bars for gay men were located, gentrified at a much slower rate according to Podmore’s study, and attracted mostly middle-class gay men that increased the popularity of gay establishments.

Another possible factor is the diversification of the Village and the creation of mixed clubs. The 1990s saw an emergence of queer activism and community building with the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic, police repression and the start of the Pride movement. Many mixed queer clubs were created during this time and became popular with the new generation of lesbians, as opposed to the bars in the Plateau which had an older, francophone clientele. 

The New Trend 

“Usually, what we see in Montreal are events that will switch bars. These events are very precise, usually monthly and they’ll often be in recurring bars because the owners are either part of the community or their establishment is seen as very LGBTQ+ friendly,” said Eysseric.

Lucia Winter, co-founder and producer of ElleLui, shared their thoughts on the village in an interview with her two collaborators, Ray Resvick and Eloise Haliburton. “I’ve noticed that there has been an effort that has been made to diversify the types of parties and types of events that are being run in the village,” shared Winter.

According to their website, ElleLui is a production collective that organizes sapphic and lesbian parties in Tiohtià:ke (Montreal).

“However, it’s not as if club owners suddenly decided to invite lesbians, it’s sapphic organisers that are going out and creating these events,” added Resvick, a co-producer.

ElleLui events are popular and draw large crowds, despite only being created last year. Winter partly credits their success to being one of the first people to start organizing events shortly after the COVID-19 surge at the end of summer 2021. ElleLui, alongside other sapphic event organizers such as Sweet Like Honey, pride themselves on being as inclusive as possible of queer, trans, Black, Indigenous and people of color (QTBIPOC). This emphasis on inclusivity is an element that was missing from the lesbian bars of the past and the Village as a whole.

Jade Sullivan, a data analyst, activist and sapphic ballroom and exotic dancer, attends and performs at many of these Montreal sapphic events. “The community has to spend so much money just to be a part of sapphic spaces because you have to buy tickets to events to cover overhead costs, but with a bar you can just walk in and buy one drink,” shared Sullivan. She mentioned how grateful she is to be able to afford these events, but she knows many others who can’t afford tickets to community events. 

Why Are Sapphic Spaces Important?

“The reason that a gay space is amazing depends on who you are,” shared Haliburton. “To walk into a space oriented for cis-gay men is probably amazing for cis-gay men, but that’s not my experience, I don’t relate to that.” Her colleague, Resvick, also mentioned the privilege that cis-men face is not shared by the whole queer community and that there are layers of intersection on top of sexuality such as gender, class, and race. 

Lesbians also have less mainstream representation than gay men and face many stereotypes that they don’t. “Sometimes we’ll think that lesbians have no sexuality because of the absence of a man or lesbian relationships are seen as being for male sexual pleasure. Either way, lesbian relationships are not seen as legitimate,” shared Eysseric.

“The amount of harassment I experience when I go to a straight bar with a bunch of my lesbian friends is so bad. Even when we have sapphic events in certain bars, some men will still try to barge in,” shared Sullivan.

She also shared how as an exclusively sapphic exotic dancer, the number of spaces where she can perform are too small for her to support herself solely through exotic dancing. However, that’s not due to lack of demand. 

“The sapphic nights were the most money that those bars made because of the amount of people coming in and because there were no other sapphic spaces that had that kind of exotic dancing,” she recalled. “That space was a lot more intersectional and diverse than what you see in a normal strip-club. It very much broke the binary of what we think exotic dancing is like.” Sullivan also raised the point that many gay men can make a living exotic dancing in the Village.

The loss of lesbian bars is not an issue unique to Montreal. According to data from The Lesbian Bar Project, there used to be over 200 lesbian bars in the United States. Today, there are only 24. The Lesbian Bar project raised $117,000 to help the remaining bars survive.

The lack of permanent spaces is not the only issue that the Montreal sapphic community faces; lack of representation and recognition are also issues.

“We’ve been fighting for years for the term lesbophobia to be recognized,” said Eysseric. “It’s really important because lesbophobia is the intersection between sexism and homophobia, which is a reality unique to women of sexual diversity.”

After years of hard work, the RLQ managed to have the term added to the Montreal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities in 2021. “It’s a term that’s very hard to be recognized, it’s not even in every French dictionary, so there is a long way to go,” she added. The Montreal sapphic community is still gathering despite the challenges they face, but there is still a long way to go for lesbian and sapphic acceptance.


Overcrowded emergency rooms pile on the pressure 

ER crisis puts stress on both patients and medical staff

Long wait times and overcrowded emergency rooms across Montreal are putting a strain onto an already overworked healthcare system, which has left some patients feeling as if they’re not receiving proper care.

According to Santé Montreal daily emergency room capacity reports, emergency rooms on last Thursday were running at an average of 129 per cent capacity, with some emergency rooms reporting rates as high as 179 per cent.

Doctors are feeling the effects of overfilled ERs. “It puts a pressure on us to work faster, because it’s scary to see the amount of people waiting increase,” said Dr. Guylaine Larose, an emergency pediatrician at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) Sainte-Justine. “There’s a significant risk of giving lower-quality care, which is not something that we like doing.”

“You’re always scared that patients who wait too long will worsen before you’re able to see them. It’s a big worry, for both doctors and nurses,” Larose added.

Patients are feeling the pressure as well. “What I really picked up on was a lack of bedside manner, which I think has a lot to do with how busy hospitals are right now,” said Megan Devoe, a Concordia student who was sent to the ER at the Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) after fainting due to low blood sugar. “They ran all these tests on me without telling me what they were doing or why they were doing it. It was really confusing and pretty disorienting.”

Devoe had her blood taken, on top of other tests, and was never given the results to any of them. Indeed, she was not given any discharge information or any way to contact the hospital for a checkup or the results of her tests. She recounts the hospital staff waking her up at 4 a.m. to ask her if she could walk. She was then asked to leave the hospital despite being unsure if she could.

“Wait times aren’t new, they are cyclical, and usually higher during the holidays and winter,” said Dr. Larose. “Increased traffic will happen when viral infections increase, usually in winter but for the past two years also during unusual moments. What we’re seeing this year is an increase in viral infections which has been especially high over the past two months.”

Devoe was kept in the hallway on a stretcher the entire time of her stay and had to ask multiple times for food or to be accompanied to the washroom. She believes her negative experience is due to the overcrowded ERs and thinks the “healthcare system is falling apart a little bit.”

Devoe’s experience is not unique. According to data from Santé Montréal, 214 patients were on stretchers for over 24 hours and 73 for over 48 hours last Thursday.

“Healthcare professionals, whether they be doctors or nurses, feel a lot of responsibility towards their patients,” said Dr. Larose. “With the rise in overcrowding in emergency rooms and the heightened risk of giving lower quality care, that responsibility is still there and adds to the level of stress. The patients who wait hours to see us have the patience of angels and many show us gratitude and wish us good luck. It’s incredibly touching.”

Graphic by: Le Lin @spicybaby.jpg

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