Langara grad’s award-nominated film addresses LGBTQ issues

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Reported by Natasha Chang

Langara documentary film production graduate Joella Cabalu wrote and produced a short film for her final school project, and it’s scheduled for screening at the Vancouver Asian Film Festival.

StandStill is about Cabalu’s journey as the bridge between her brother and her parents. Cabalu’s brother is gay and he came out to her in 2007. They kept it a secret from their parents until 2010. One of her goals was to create a space for both parties to come together and openly share their beliefs and feelings.

Joella Cabalu's final school project will be screening at VAFF and is nominated for an award. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Joella Cabalu’s final school project will be screening at VAFF and is nominated for an award. NATASHA CHANG photo

“It was an attempt to take the burden off of me and to bring them together so they can talk face-to-face, but also to explore what my role is in my family,” Cabalu said.

Now, Cabalu sees educational values and community outreach opportunities that come with the film.

“In the back of my mind, I wanted this community outreach, the educational component. And, it’s relevant to the current socio-political times,” Cabalu said.

LGBTQ voices in film are important

Cari Green, member of Langara’s digital film production advisory committee, said in an email, “it’s important to have LGBTQ voices in the Asian Film Festival.”

This film also resonates with people who aren’t struggling with sexuality or religion, Cabalu explained.

“I’m finding [the film’s] opening up discussion about when the people in your family do not share the same beliefs or opinions,” she said. It’s about how to exist as a family when members do not agree on the same values, she adds.

Green saw Cabalu’s project from conception to completion.

“It was very moving and very brave of [Cabalu] to get involved in such a personal family drama,” she said.

Honesty was hard to achieve

Cabalu said a challenge she came across was how to tell the story honestly. “We come from a culture that we don’t talk about those sort of things, so it’s going to be a challenge to open up that discourse, especially about something so sensitive.”

She said she sees herself taking a stand for her beliefs, but it’s a struggle. “I have to learn to relinquish [the mediator] role,” she said. “Through this process, I’m learning to individuate myself from my parents.”

StandStill screens on Nov. 8 at VAFF, and it is one of Cabalu’s two films up for the 2014 Best Canadian Short Award.

Check out the trailer for StandStill 

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