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Thinking Allowed
Panel Discussions + Screenings


June 12th - 16th, 2023

An Elastic Spaces SSHRC Connection funded project in collaboration with the Canadian Filmmaker Distribution Centre (CFMDC) and Hexagram-UQAM

Hosted in-person in Concordia University’s 4th Space, live panel streams and online film screenings will be available on on June 12th + June 14th

Image: Thinking Allowed, 2023

The Elastic Spaces SSHRC Connection funded project, Thinking Allowed, brings together a network of artists, curators, scientists, students and community members coming with expertise from different branches of knowledge – artistic, scientific and Indigenous – to address urgent issues around social justice and the environment.

Using both new and traditional practices, this group of interdisciplinary and intergenerational researchers work together towards delineating the intersections among the entangled problems of climate change, clear-cutting of old growth forests, human displacement, settler-colonialism and racism.

Monday June 12th

Monday June 12th


Midi Onodera


Leila Sujir


Sylvia Hamilton


Roshini Kempadoo


Sunil Gupta


Remembering Practice & Policy in Production and Distribution  (30 to 40 years ago), in the Media Arts in the UK and Canada

This panel discussion looks back three to four decades in Canadian and British media art history, within production workshops and festival presentations with Indigenous Peoples and People of Color. For example, looking back at Canadian cultural activism then and now in media arts, including the Invisible Colors festival from 1988, the New Initiatives in Film for Women of Color and First Nations Women in the early 1990’s, supported by the National Film Board of Canada, and the Canada Council for the Arts.


In this panel, media artists Midi Onodera and Sylvia Hamilton, will join Leila Sujir on this discussion of “Superwomen: Taking Off” as they have previously named themselves during the CFMDC winter 2021 virtual conversation series, “Super Women: Conversations with the Real Action Figures.” The 2021 online conversation will also be available on the CFMDC website during the presentation of this new panel discussion. 


Joining the conversation from the UK, are photo-based artists Roshini Kempadoo (Westminster/Autograph member), Sunil Gupta (University for Creative Arts/Autograph, OVA and INIVA member), to discuss photography as a deeply problematic form that visualized the colonial subject with a contradictory contribution as a liberatory and transformative visualization tool for global south cultures.


Gupta and Kempadoo contributed to the formation of Autograph, the Association of Black Photographers and the Institute of International Visual Arts (INIVA) in the UK (1980s onwards), and continue to visualize the colonial aftermath that lives on in Britain, Canada, India and the Caribbean. 


Watch the 2021 virtual conversation series SuperWomen: Conversations with the Real Action Figures (2021)

A collection of interviews with seven astounding women who have an extensive history of working in film and video with Marjorie Beaucage, Christene Browne, Sylvia Hamilton, Maria Teresa Larrain, Michelle Mohabeer, Leila Sujir, and Zainub Verjee in conversation with  Midi Onodera, re-broadcast with CFMDC.

SuperWomen (2021)

(CANADA/CHILE, 2017, 75 MIN) 

The extraordinary story of a filmmaker struggling with the prospect of losing her vision. While editing her last film in Toronto, Chilean-born filmmaker María Teresa Larraín suddenly begins to go blind. After she’s denied disability benefits by the Canadian government, she returns home to Chile. There, inspired by the resilience and wisdom of the blind street vendors she meets, María Teresa confronts her fears and steps courageously into her new life while reclaiming her dignity and her voice as an artist. This powerful and poetic film raises complex questions about art and “vision,” able and dis-abled, and poverty and privilege.
Click to register for the Zoom Q&A (starts at 4:30 EDT)

Image: Shadow Girl, 2017
Image: Shadow Girl, 2017


MARIA TERESA LARRAÍN, is a Chilean born filmmaker, who studied Law and Drama in her native land. In 1976, Larraín immigrated to Canada where she worked as a legal assistant and a community worker with immigrant women and refugees, and studied Radio and Television Arts at the Ryerson University in Toronto. She graduated from that program in 1984 and has since worked as an independent filmmaker both in Chile and in Canada. Larraín has been invited to participate in several professional development programs including the Documentary Edit and Story Lab and the Documentary and Composers Lab of the Sundance Institute in Utah and the Alan King’s Documentary Studio and the Canadian Film Centre Scriptwriters Lab in Toronto. 


Her character driven films are often very personal and usually deal with social issues. Shadow Girl (2017) follows her journy into blindness and her encounter with a group of street vendors who help her find a different way to look and see. While she thought Shadow Girl (2017) would be her last film, she is currently editing Bodies in Crisis (2019-), a feature length documentary that follows 5 dissident activists through the social revolt and the contentious constitutional process that recently took place in Chile. Her previous film Besieged Land (2007) focuses on a land conflict between a powerful landowner and a respected Mapuche Chief.  Both documentaries participated in various international film festivals in the Americas, Europe and Asia, winning several awards. Her earlier films “Dolores” (about Art modeling, narcissism and love) and “Looking for Findley (a portrait of the late Canadian author),” have been broadcasted in Bravo! and Tele Latino in Toronto. 


While working on Shadow Girl, Maria Teresa studied Critical Disability Studies at Ryerson University. In her dissertation thesis and using autoethnography as a research methodology, she discusses the ways in which the making of her film helped her step into her new identity both as a blind woman and a member of a new community: that of people with disabilities. An important aspect of her thesis was the connection between Arts, Academy and Activism.

Wednesday June 14th

Wednesday June 14th


Haema Sivanesan

Sunny Kerr.jpg.jfif

Sunny Kerr


Barbara Clausen


Charan Singh


Diyar Mayil


Laura Acosta + Santiago Tavera


Decolonizing Spaces, Public Art, Curatorial, Museum and Publication Models

Decolonizing Spaces, Public Art, Curatorial, Museum and Publication Models will focus on curatorial, critical and artistic projects.


Curator Haema Sivanesan (Glenbow Museum) will present notes from her essay, “Unsettling” the Forest as a Canadian Nationalist Imaginary: Consent, Consultation, and (Re)conciliation in Leila Sujir’s “forest! documents”; Sunny Kerr (Queen’s) will offer methodologies of decolonial curatorial practices at the Agnes Etherington Art Center; Barbara Clausen (UQAM) will suggest how to embody exhibitions and activate archives. Charan Singh (Kingston University) will present his creative research informed by HIV/AIDS activism and queer politics. Diyar Mayil (MFA Concordia) will present her works on migration, questioning the nuanced and contradictory dynamics inherent to the relationship between hosts and guests; and Concordia MFA alumni and Colombia-Canadian duo, Laura Acosta and Santiago Tavera will present their recent media installation projects that explore perspectives of the “other” and spaces of dislocation.


Queer Coolie-tudes is a creative essay documentary and queer ethnography which traces the intergenerational lives, histories, identities, familial relations and sexualities of a diverse range of subjects (academics, artists, and activists) from the Indo-Caribbean diaspora in Canada. Some are mixed race, including: dougla (Indian-African mixture), callaloo (creole mixtures), genderqueer, disabled, aids activist, and perform drag identity.

Click to register for the Zoom Q&A (starts at 4:30 EDT)

Image: Queer Coolie-Tudes, 2019
Image: Queer Coolie-Tudes, 2019


MICHELLE MOHABEER was born in Guyana/South American and lives in Toronto, she is a multi award-winning filmmaker/media artist, film scholar, academic and writer who earned her PhD from the University of Toronto in (2006). She was recognized as "best female filmmaker 2020" by the Berlin Underground Film Festival for her second creative feature documentary, Queer Coolie-tudes (2019), which was awarded Direction Excellence from Docs Without Borders and won the "Intersect Award" from the 15th Caribbean Tales International Film Festival.


Queer Coolie-tudes had its Canadian premiere at the 28th Inside Out Film Festival and its European premier in the media library collection of the 50th Visions du Reel in Switzerland and theatrically at the International Queer and Migrant Film Festival in Amsterdam. Prior films include the feature essay documentary, Blu In You (2008), the Inside Out commissioned short film Echoes (2003), the Canada Council/Making Scenes Ottawa commissioned Tracing Soul (2000), her MFA experimental narrative, Child-Play (1996), TWO/DOH (1996), Coconut/Cane & Cutlass (1994), and the commissioned Five Feminist Minutes short, EXPOSURE (1990) which was produced by the National Film Board of Canada (former-studio D women's unit).


Mohabeer's films have exhibited worldwide at over 300 festivals, conferences, and galleries, and collected by over 60 University libraries across the U.S, Canada, and in the Caribbean. Her films have been profiled or written about in Film Fatales: Independent Women Directors, The Romance of Transgression in Canada, North of Everything, The Bent Lens, Queering Canada: A Collection of Essays, and the article, "Putting the Cool in Coolie: Disidentification, Desire and Dissent in the work of filmmaker, Michelle Mohabeer" in The Caribbean Review of Gender Studies, among others. Dr. Mohabeer teaches at York University in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies and in the Department of Communications at Glendon campus. Future projects include: a feature documentary, and she is the contributing editor of a critical anthology,  In-Between the Frames: Racialized Diasporic & Queer Diasporic women filmmakers in Canada.

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