A scene from the compelling Afghanistan documentary.

If you have your two COVID-19 vaccinations then you definitely might want to take advantage of the upcoming United Nations Association Traveling Film Festival at the Cinéma du Musée on Sept 18. Presented by Montreal based Yellow Pad Sessions (YPS), each screening will be preceded by a panel discussion on the topic being treated in the film by experts and followed by a Q&A session with the audience. Montreal is the only Canadian city on the circuit.

The films being screened are Carol Dysinger’s Oscar Winning short, Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl), set in Afghanistan; Harleen Singh’s Drawn Together Drawn Together: Comics, Diversity and Stereotypes; Serendipity, executive produced by Angelina Jolie, about French Artist Prune Nourry, who spent her working life exploring issues around the human body; and Scott Ressler’s The Last Ice about Inuit communities fighting to protect the rapidly disappearing Arctic that has been their home for centuries.

Given the recent developments in Afghanistan, I was drawn to Learning to Skateboard in a War Zone (If You’re a Girl) and had the chance to see the film in advance. It follows a class of girls at Skateistan, a non-profit that began as a skate school in Kabul in 2007 and grew into a multinational educational initiative. It won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short’ at the 92nd Academy Awards. It was sad to watch this extraordinary piece of work and see all of the hope displayed by the children, their parents and teachers of a bright future. This came out in 2019 and lord knows what retribution some of the moms interviewed will experience given how honestly they speak about oppression under Taliban rule.

Montrealers Grace Sabeh Byrne and Patrick Byrne are the co-founders of YPS

BASIC INCOME RALLY: An organization called Basic Income Montreal will hold a rally on Sept. 25 (2 pm) at Parc Laurier in Plateau Montreal. “As a country, we could take CERB to the next step and expand the Basic Income that our government already provides for seniors and for families with small children,” committee member Nancy Greene Gregoire shared with me. “Cities would be the first to benefit: less crime, less homelessness and more income to help with local economies. Basic Income would give Quebec welfare recipients their dignity back: they would be able to make their own decisions on where money is spent, and they would be encouraged to work without the fear of losing welfare money. Welfare is a disincentive to work.”

CHILDHOOD CANCER: This is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and West Islander Sharon Bradwell is spearheading a program called STEP-BY-STEP-TEMBRE, a month-long opportunity to learn more about childhood cancers. The objective is to drum up awareness of childhood cancers with facts and encourage folks to move — walk, run, skip, roll, blade with family and friends, while being mindful of local health and safety guidelines. Making a donation to one’s local children’s hospital would also be appreciated — in this case, the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

COHEN CHATTER: Tracy Braunstein, the dynamic co -founder and producer of non-profit theatre company Full Circle Productions Mtl, has a few big outdoor presentation of Les Miserables in Concert Under the Stars planned for at Sunnybrooke Park in DDO on Sat. Sept. 18. There is a cast of 18 local performers. “People are thirsty for the arts, for entertainment and for live music,” says Tracy…Please see my inspiring interview on our Suburban On Air video channel with Canadian recording artist and the star of CTV’s Jann, Jann Arden. Her dedication to assisting those suffering from dementia is touching to say the least.

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