Crowdsourcing Cape Breton stories

Ashley McKenzie and Nelson MacDonald need help finishing their latest movie about New Waterford. Their first two shorts, “Rhonda’s Party” (2010) and “When You Sleep” (2012), achieved exceptional success, screening to widespread praise at the Toronto International Film Festival and Cannes, as well as at festivals in Montreal, Stockholm, Whistler, and St. John’s. Along the way, they picked up half a dozen industry awards, including the top prize in CBC’s Short Film Faceoff.

AshleyDespite these early triumphs, the pair have had to turn to crowdsourcing to raise the last few dollars needed to finish post-production on their latest film, “Stray,” the story of a lonely New Waterford girl who tries to befriend a homeless cat.

They wouldn’t need this money if they had taken the expedient route of filming in Halifax. But director Ashley and producer Nelson are committed to telling Cape Breton stories in an authentic way. By paying the extra transportation and crew costs to film here, they were able to set scenes in magnificent post-industrial settings that just aren’t available anywhere else. (Lord knows how Nelson wheedled permission to shoot in some of these locations.)

We’re always bemoning the exodus of talented young people from Nova Scotia. Ashley and Nelson could easily flourish in a major film center, but they choose instead to stay here and tell our stories. We’ve been friends for years, and I can’t think of any two people who work harder, or bring greater intelligence and dedication to their craft.

Isn’t that something we should support?

With just 48 hours to go, their Indiegogo crowd-sourcing campaign is about $1,600 shy of the goal needed to finish “Stray.” You can contribute here.

Kansas defends the niqab – updated

Jane Kansas takes time out from her walk to mount the simplest, most easily understood defence I’ve heard of a women’s right to choose face coverings like the niqab and the burka. Money quote:

At the beaches of Nice, Cannes and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat most women were young and slim and topless. In all the cafes, women wore only tiny bikini bras and sarongs, or simply sat and scarfed down their Croque Madames and Ricards in their bikinis. It was what was done.

Kansas-burka-150I sure didn’t. I come from a place where women do not sit in restaurants in their bikinis. I would be uncomfortable anywhere in a bikini. And topless? Please. I feel strongly that away from the beach, cottage or lawn mower, everybody should keep their shirts on.

No one agitated for me to assume a state of address [sic] I would be uncomfortable with, for whatever reason: religious, body image, habit. I would have felt like a skank, no matter if everyone else was doing it.

If you have spent your adult life wearing a shirt in public, you don’t want to go without one. If you have spent your adult life wearing a face covering in public, you don‘t want to go without one. Having your default sartorial splendor legislated away must so totally suck.

She even wore one herself for an afternoon. [Photo: Maggie Lucas.]

[Update] Contrarian reader Cheryl Cook is of mixed mind:

It’s hard not to blur the debate about the right of women to choose what they wear in this part of the world, with the discussion of what they wear in parts where they have little to no choice. This lack of choice being mandated over such a long time surely plays a huge role in determining why anyone would choose to continue wearing a particular piece of clothing when offered the chance not to. To paraphrase Ms. Kansas: it’s what you know, it’s part of your culture/religion etc.

But in talking about parts of the world where women have this choice, be careful to peel the layers away there and acknowledge the women who perhaps don’t really have so much choice. It’s never quite as simple as “we said they could wear what they want, surely that’s permission enough.” People live within communities and subcultures, and the news gives us plenty of examples of women who took the choice to live as they like in countries such as Canada and the UK and paid the price.

For the record, I support anyone’s right to wear what they like. Which means I support the choice of a women in Canada to wear a niqab, even if I don’t like it. But I also fully understand the loathing and mistrust that many have for items of clothing that have been used for such a long time to subjugate or mark my gender as necessary of being hidden, or ‘protected’ because of the way we were born. Sugar coat it as you like with cultural or religious relativism, but it comes down to women being a temptation. Call it protection of honour or whatever, but it’s all done because of our gender. Until that sort of bullshit thinking goes away, and I doubt it ever will, there will never really be a choice for a lot of women. Even some living here.