Communicating research to an international public, while stimulating discussion, and challenging misconceptions about aging, neighbourhood environments, and health is integral to our knowledge translation and exchange strategy. I therefore represented with pleasure our team’s I’d Rather Stay documentary at two recent screenings on the film festival circuit.
(if you haven’t seen it yet, watch I’d Rather Stay online HERE)
This is a mid-size festival with diverse (experimental, character driven documentary, and Hollywood-esq) programming. I’d Rather Stay was unique as all other films were not connected to larger academic projects.
The film played to a sold out audience, comprised of a diversity of ages and socio-cultural backgrounds.
During the post-screening Q & A, I related I’d Rather Stay to urban planning in the United States – noting some cities are adopting trends of increased density and active transportation, while others continue to sprawl. The audience was also curious about the older adults selected for the film. I explained how the featured individuals stemmed from three mixed-method research projects. Via conversations throughout the festival, I learned that while Portland has many examples of engaged and progressive urban planning, issues specifically related to an aging demographic are not prominent in the public mindset.
Festival programmers selected 43 films out of around 400 submissions – so needless to say the quality of programming was high, and I’d Rather Stay’s inclusion is a success in itself. CIFFSC programs films that are part of larger ‘social change’ initiatives. This brought together filmmakers, academics, public officials, and advocates from all over the world. Issues ranged from homelessness in Philadelphia, to gay rights in Uganda.
Short documentaries were programmed in ‘blocks’ of about 4 different films. After a ‘block’ there was a facilitated discussion crosscutting the films’ issues. The thoughtful CIFFSC festival programming, effectively broke down barriers and created a ‘safe space’ for meaningful discussion about the most pressing social issues of our time.
Screening attendees combined with social media distribution, exposed I’d Rather Stay to a network of around 2000 individuals. We were the only film in the festival that addressed aging issues.
Our research findings (related to aging, health, mobility and the importance of social connectedness) translated into the documentary format, resonated with audience members from diverse geographical locations (from Ontario, to Chicago, to California).
Our discussion also addressed:
(i) Contextual differences and between the US and Vancouver,
(ii) Municipal and provincial government representatives’ responses to the film at previous screenings; and
(iii) ‘Next steps’ in terms of sharing the film with more developers and policy makers.
Throughout both festivals, I explained my role in relation to the Active Streets Active People research program and answered the question: “what is a Knowledge Broker?” A common response was “our organization needs one of those!”
By Callista Haggis, MAP, Knowledge Broker