What is Connecting the Docs? Building Bridges and Empowering Communities.

This post published on April 16, 2014

Each event is a whole new ball game for the OPEN CINEMA social engagement team. Every month we immerse ourselves in a different documentary’s world and reach out to local social issue groups and specialists to engage in our community building events . Realizing that we have varying degrees of familiarity with the topics we are tweeting about, we make sure to include subject matter experts on our social media team who help us navigate the territory.

At our March 26 screening of  MY PRAIRIE HOME, we were very fortunate to enlist the help of Lulu Laru, founder of onmyplanet.ca. She not only joined us at the ‘power bar’ that night, but she also sponsored the event and played an important role in helping us to create an event that would be of real value to the Trans* community.

Lulu Laru’s OPEN CINEMA Story


Onmyplanet.ca recently sponsored OPEN CINEMA’s screening of My Prairie Home, a biography documentary about trans-identified, independent musician Rae Spoon, directed by Chelsea McMullan. From my perspective as a web-only organization, it was fascinating to participate in the media machine of OPEN CINEMA. In addition to the back-to-back screenings of the film in Calgary and Victoria, the live discussions in both cities and the Skype conversations between them, the Facebook and Twitter discussions were fast and furious throughout the night.

Onmyplanet.ca is currently developing an online workbook for reducing homophobia and transphobia and is poised to reach out to a more mixed audience. This event was an excellent introduction for us. The social media reach of the event put my website on the radar of over 75,000 people –  people already interested in LGBTQ issues and events – exactly the people we are trying to reach. This event also inspired one audience member to add their story to the over 70 stories already available in The Queer Story Archive.

photo of the OPEN CINEMA Connecting the Docs Social Engagement Team

With assistance from the local trans and queer folk, Mandy was able to put together an incredibly open and insightful crew for this event; from the impeccable panel members and moderator to the local trans and queer additions to the already stellar ‘social media crew’. Their ability to promote the event to pertinent sections of the LGBTQ communities brought in a very important trans and queer element of the audience.  Mandy’s ability to listen and act on the concerns of this cross section of her audience while producing this event, ultimately created a superlative crossover event. I commend her on her inclusive attitude and her loyalty to OPEN CINEMA’s mandate of community engagement.

photo of Connecting the Docs Tweetchat power bar with twinkly lights

I believe those audience members that participated in the discussion afterwards felt supported and heard. Those that came to the event with no prior experience with the trans or queer communities definitely came away with new insight. (Editor’s note: watch the livestreamed post-screening discussion and social engagement archive on Storify).

photo of OPEN CINEMA Connecting the Docs 'My Prairie Home' post-screening discussion speakers, Metta, Maureen Bradley, Alyx MacAdams, Daphne Shaed.

The post-screening discussion was candid and funny L-R: Metta, Maureen Bradley, Alyx MacAdams and Daphne Shaed.

It made me proud to have participated in this event that so closely echoed the goals of onmyplanet.ca. I hope the success of this event leads OPEN CINEMA to more LGBTQ film choices in the future.

Onmyplanet.ca is a queer and trans positive website that houses The Queer Story Archive. The Archive is an ever-expanding collection of life experience stories, on video and in text, from everyone under the rainbow and the people who love us. Onmyplanet.ca also has a support and referral network. In development is ‘Work It Out’, an online workbook for reducing homophobia, transphobia and sexual prejudice that will incorporate the video stories.

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