We raise awareness of loneliness through film.
The biggest social concern for Vancouver residents is a lack of community. People feel lonely! When people are lonely, they don’t take part in community. And without active communities, it’s unlikely that we will resolve the many ecological issues that our communities face.
Our Response to Loneliness
To tackle loneliness, we have made 2 films that bring awareness to the many faces of loneliness, and conducted workshops and discussions around them. Our first film addresses the loneliness of people who suffer under a cruel standard of beauty.
Our second film addresses the loneliness of a new immigrant in Vancouver.
Though this project has come to a close, our loneliness-awareness campaign continues to grow. Our films on Youtube continue to increase in views and we continue to interview strangers on the street about loneliness. We post these interviews on our blog. They can be viewed here.
One of the serendipitous initiatives that has grown out of our group is a new project to bring people together through storytelling. This new project is called Mythic and it connects people on and offline through sharing myths.
We are also delivering a workshop about how to build a community for international students at UBC. We will use our film about the loneliness of new immigrants to encourage people to share their experiences and opinions about loneliness.
Impact of Our Films
The greatest behavioural change that we hope to have is from people who watch our films. However, while our films have generated lively discussions, it’s hard to infer what kind of impact our films are having on people’s behaviour after they watch them.
The impact of a film on the people who watch it can often be gaged by the quality of dialogue that ensues after. We had engaging dialogue after the display of all of our films with those in attendance.
The impact of our films on the broader culture is difficult to gage, but a necessary precondition for impact is that people see our films. The number of people that saw our films is largely reflected in the amount of views our films received off youtube.
Skills, Attitudes and Habits Acquired
Our skills, attitudes and habits changed over the course of our project. We all learned valuable skills. Those people in our group that were not already filmmakers going in became filmmakers during the production of our films. The result is that we came out of this project with a marketable skill set that we didn’t previously have. But filmmaking isn’t merely “marketable”, it’s also an incredible avenue for creative expression that we will take with us for the rest of our lives.
Our attitudes also changed. What we learned about loneliness has changed our interpretation of the people in our city… One example from a long list would be that it has increased our compassion for people who behave rudely. When people are lonely, they perceive the world as threatening. And when you perceive the world as threatening, you react defensively. And in many cases this means rudely. So for example when a stranger waves at you, if you fear that they are mocking you in some way, you are obviously far less inclined to wave back than you otherwise would be. Given that 25% of our city self describes as lonely, defensive responses to well meaning social invitations are to be expected.
This attitude change has led to habit change. Negative responses thwart social invitations to engage with others. Yet when you realize that the negative responses of others are often a dysfunctional response to their own loneliness, you are far less intimidated by them. The result it that many of us find ourselves braving the unknown to reach out to strangers more often than we previously did.
Interviewing strangers on the street about loneliness required us to ask complete strangers intimate questions about a taboo subject. We were surprised by how most people were willing to discuss their own personal loneliness with us–perfect strangers! These interviews showed us how fast an intimate connection can be made with a stranger when people have the courage to be vulnerable with one another.
Our project members are Scott Finestone (in blue), Misha Kleider (in grey) and Hisayo Saito (in green)
Check out our group’s project website here.