Kitchener-Waterloo·Community Spotlight

Laurier Wellbeing in Film Forum expands to screenings at Princess Cinemas

The Laurier Wellbeing in Film Forum is receiving about $4,000 from the region. Here’s what the organization is all about and what it hopes to do with the additional and much needed funding:

CBC KW spotlighting groups and organizations receiving regional funding to boost community work

A dark, empty empty movie theatre.
The group is expanding to screen films at Princess Cinemas. (hxdbzxy / Shutterstock)

The Laurier Wellbeing in Film Forum has received about $4,000 in funding from the Region of Waterloo.

It's one of 41 community organizations and groups in Waterloo region that were provided upstream funding from the regional government — an approach the municipality hopes will help change "systems that distribute wealth, power, and decision-making."

The region set aside more than $4 million for the project aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous, Black, racialized and other communities facing discrimination.  

CBC Kitchener-Waterloo is highlighting the work of several of the recipients in a week-long series. 

Here's what the Laurier Wellbeing in Film Forum is about and what it hopes to do with the additional funding:

About the organization and impact on community:

A selfie-style photo of a man smiling.
Ketan Shankardass is the founder of the Laurier Wellbeing in Film Forum, which launched in 2018. (Submitted by Ketan Shankardass)

The Laurier Wellbeing in Film Forum launched in 2018 as a student-focused club at Wilfrid Laurier University that screens films on a monthly basis followed by group discussions. 

Ketan Shankardass, founder of the forum and an associate professor at the university, said they choose content that relates to the health and wellbeing of communities and how social and structural determinants of health impact people.

For example, earlier this year, the group watched Paris Is Burning, a 1991 documentary focused on the lives of drag queens in New York City's ballroom scene. Shankardass said members of the community, who may have been rejected by family or society, would come together, have parties and competitions. He said this addresses those social determinants that challenged the community at the time.

The club continued during the pandemic, but recently, expanded to include the community and screen films at Princess Cinemas.

"[It's] an opportunity for a free night at the movies for everyone and [the community] can also benefit from this kind of discussion that we have and the growing understanding of how to make our societies more fair," said  Shankardass.

How regional funding will help the organization:

Shankardass said the shift from meeting up in classrooms to renting out the Princess comes with a cost.

So, the money from the region will help cover rental fees, as well as advertising to reach wider audiences and honorariums for guest speakers.

Dates to remember: 

The forum meets on a monthly basis, its next film screening will be later this month.

Shankardass said interested students and community member scan look out for more information on the group's Facebook page.


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