British Columbia

After 2 years of isolation, Vancouver filmmaker looks to strangers for connection

Many British Columbians have felt deeply disconnected and isolated from their friends, family and community as the virus continues to mutate and adapt.

The Opposite of Isolated was produced in collaboration with the CBC Creator Network

The Opposite of Isolated explores the lack of connection many people have felt throughout the pandemic. (CBC Creator Network)

B.C.'s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed two years ago.

The 24 months that followed have been filled with fear, confusion, restrictions, resilience and, for many, loneliness stoked by a drought of social interactions.

Many British Columbians, like Vancouver-based filmmaker Everett Bumstead, have felt deeply disconnected and isolated from their friends, family and community as the virus continues to mutate and adapt.

To better understand his feelings of isolation, Bumstead and his producing partner created a documentary series about connecting with strangers.

"For some people, I think it was an opportunity to have their voice be heard and I think that it's something we can relate to in all this confusion, that our voice hasn't been heard," said Bumstead.

In a three-episode series, The Opposite of Isolated follows Bumstead's roommate, Julian Baisa, as he visits simple locations across Vancouver searching to connect with strangers.

"I decided to start talking to whoever crosses my path," said Baisa in the opening moments of the first episode.

"Except I'm not interested in talking so much as just listening."

Julian Baisa visits a Vancouver SkyTrain station

7 months ago
Duration 4:52
Following two years of isolation, Baisa visits locations in Vancouver to connect with strangers.

Over three short episodes, Basia meets strangers where quick introductions give way to authentic conversations.

The honesty and vulnerability often caught Bumstead by surprise.

"You don't expect tears to be shed when you stop somebody and ask for five minutes of their time," he said.

He believes this communal sense of isolation felt over the past two years paved the way for the increased willingness of strangers to share their stories.

Julian Baisa visits a local skate park

7 months ago
Duration 4:09
Following two years of isolation, Baisa visits locations in Vancouver to connect with strangers.

The pandemic has been difficult, Bumstead admits. Celebrations have often been cancelled, birthdays perhaps a bit smaller than the parties of past years.

"It's been a big reality check for me. It's one of the first times I've really been appreciating the things I've got," he said. 

"Reminding me not to take things for granted because of how much has been taken away over the past couple of years."

This project, he says, helped him feel like he was going back to the way things were before when he would walk down Commercial Drive and feel engaged with his community.

Julian Baisa visits a local park

7 months ago
Duration 3:56
Following two years of isolation, Baisa visits locations in Vancouver to connect with strangers.

The Opposite of Isolated was produced in collaboration with the CBC Creator Network, which works with emerging, independent and diverse film and video creators to amplify their stories and perspectives. 

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