Event of the Week: Vox Populi in Metropolis Cultural Film Nights


Anahata Community’s Event Aiming to Develop Positive Multicultural Discourse

Film lovers in Adelaide, South Australia might have spent the night of the 28th of February at Lotus Lounge for the screening of Vox Populi, one of the films included in Metropolis Cultural Film Nights presented by Anahata Community. With more films to come the event is an effort to bring the multicultural community together through the power of art.

Exploring philanthropic means and with the support of a steering committee, Anahata Community is resourced by Ben-Hur Winter, an Adelaide based arts and cultural worker. Anahata means ‘heart’ in Sanskrit which has had some influence on the cultures of South East Asia. As an artistic collective, Anahata Community aims to bring people together through culture, the arts and creative expression,” said Ben who is originally from the Philippines. Current projects engage with communities through cultural exchange and arts based approaches while nurturing individuals through creative processes.

Winter is an accomplished member of the Adelaide community holding a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Adelaide University. At school he was a cultural dancer and gymnast, doing traditional Philippine dance, ballet and training at the YMCA. This led to his interest in the performing arts. Ben has since worked as a contemporary dancer and company member, choreographer, character dancer in opera/musical theatre, dance collaborator for festivals and community events, while also participating in independent arts circles. He is currently undertaking cross-cultural collaborations (Manila/Adelaide) in design and fashion; the media arts/film; and dance, researching diverse choreographic and movement styles, while taking masters studies in arts and cultural management at the University of South Australia.

Anahata Community’s Metropolis Cultural Film Nights was created in order to stimulate inter-cultural dialogue and participation.

Ben says that “Metropolis Cultural Film Nights is an initiative promoting cultural dialogue through diverse contemporary independent films currently screening at Lotus Lounge, a fashionable, up-market cocktail bar in Adelaide.” Supporting the concept that ‘A city is a collision of ideas, a catalyst for cultures to breed, for people to meet and interact, where possibilities are nurtured and integrated’ (*Westbury 2008), Ben shares that “the concept for Metropolis began in Manila in the Philippines in 2009 as a collaborative enterprise between artsworkers. This led to our first series here in Adelaide which has been aimed at exploring ethno-cultural themes that can resonate with local audiences.”

Anahata Community talked more about the films shown during Metropolis Cultural Film Nights.  “Featured collected works by Filipino filmmakers have screened periodically since September 2012 which has generated showings at local festivals including The Every Generation Festival, Adelaide Feast Festival and the Adelaide Fringe Festival,” stated the organisation. “The films appear in the following order The Rapture of Fe directed by Alvin Yapan, Brutus, The Journey directed by Tara Illenberger, The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros directed by Aureaus Solito, Vox Populi directed by Dennis Marasigan and Father of the Family directed by Cesar Evangelista Buendia. Vox Populi is the fourth in a series of five films[.]”

The types of promotion Anahata Community used to get the word out about their event included posters, flyers, online social networking such as Faceook, email marketing, word of mouth, and local radio thanks to 5EBI fm ethnic radio. “Radio was a good way of connecting with culturally diverse audiences, while flyers promoted the event on a more personal level,” stated the organisation. “Facebook was also great for social networking whereas email marketing has been an effective means of direct contact to local cultural groups, organisations and communities while also developing relationships with them.”

Overall, the film event is progressively reaching out to the community while establishing a network of engaged filmmakers and film viewers.

“Set in an intimate atmosphere within the urban environment of the Adelaide CBD, Metropolis Cultural Film Nights have been taking place in the courtyard cinema of the uber fashionable Lotus Lounge” said Ben, who wanted to put together “a unique program where people of all ages could come along and watch exclusively selected films with a cultural focus.” Attendances have been steady and Anahata hopes to generate more support from the community for the last showing in this series on 18 April and for future screenings. “There has been some interest from Australian producers for a possible successive series, and we hope to connect with migrant Australian filmmakers too who would like to share their stories with new and diverse audiences.”

According to Winter, one of the highlights from the event was seeing people find common ground with the films’ subject matter. He said there seems to be a multicultural audience base that is developing, thanks to feedback from Filipino-speaking viewers and broader Australian audiences.

Because the film series project is relatively new, Winter said that it would be expected to take time to gain wider recognition but says he looks forward to continually developing a good rapport with the surrounding Adelaide community, and the potential to draw “diverse, arts driven audiences to the event.”

*Reference: Westbury Marcus (2008) “Fluid Cities Create” Griffith Review EDITION 20 “Cities on the Edge” 2008 Griffith University, Brisbane.

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