Chalk With S: Who Doesn’t Know The Cinema?

Do you prefer the “who knows” or the “who doesn’t know” question format, when being addressed in a group situation? Personally, I favour the former. I find it more forgiving and less accusatory than the latter. It allows those who know what the speaker is talking about to express this, without putting those who don’t know on the spot. The latter, however, happened this past Sunday when I was at a film panel discussion.

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I attended the ‘Who Are We, Cinema?’ event on the weekend, presented by the UBC Alumni Association in partnership with the Vancouver Queer Film Festival 2013. I was thrilled to be back in a Film Studies-ish setting: a cinema-turned-presentation space inviting thought-provoking conversations. I could not wait to hear the very interesting panellists speak.

They organisers were excited to share the “first festival PechaKucha-powered event”. PechaKucha! Isn’t that fantastic?? Well… not having paid attention to that part of the event summary, I could not figure out why I was meant to be enthusiastic about this – I, erm, did not know what PechaKucha was.

I was hoping it would explain itself as the night went on, but the host addressed the issue.

“Who here does not know what PechaKucha is?”

The hands that rose, some confidently, most hesitantly, comforted me.
Me? I sat very still, arms crossed and stoic, suddenly panicky about getting caught for being unaware of something that might be in that dreaded category of ‘common knowledge’.  I noticed a few people around me who looked like they wanted to raise their hands, but thought better of it.

This is all I needed to know: PechaKucha is a presentation style. Twenty slides shown, twenty seconds for each. Why was that so difficult to admit?

Even if I am overthinking the effects of the “who doesn’t know” question, I feel it can suggest an exclusivity, however unintentionally. Once I had understood this term that was being tossed around, I found the whole event within my reach again. Then, I could proceed to enjoy the slides, some of them from films I have found striking and memorable (one in particular, the 1996 Canadian film, Les Feluettes).

I am interested in what you have to say about how the phrasing of questions can make you feel more or less included in similar spaces. Write to us, or comment if you have thoughts on this.

You and I can have another one-on-one chalk next week 😀
There will be loads of chalky goodness between now and then, which you can read about in our previous post. Stay tuned for all of that, including some chalk time with H!

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