COVID-19 has physically separated people in Edmonton, but a new project is bringing some of our stories together.
COVID Collections: A Short Film invites its audience to discover stories from outside of their own “bubble” of friends and family and dig deeper into how the pandemic is impacting different people.
Tales include a PhD student who has been stuck in Botswana for nearly a year, a high school teacher and a COVID long-hauler.
“The stories come from a wide range of experiences, cultures, economic realities and privilege,” said artistic director Annette Loiselle. “We’re pulling away their ‘masks’ to reveal stories of heartbreak and resilience.”
The film is presented by SkirtsAFire, a yearly event in Edmonton that celebrates diversity and empowers and showcases women and non-binary artists.
Due to COVID-19, the event was reimagined to include physical and digital aspects.
People across Edmonton shared personal experiences and challenges during the pandemic over many months.
COVID Collections was created to help people understand the variety of experiences people can have during the pandemic.
“The audience will be hearing from people they may not have heard before,” explained Loiselle. “We had four story collectors from four different communities in Edmonton… and we tasked them with finding these storytellers.”
Jodi Calahoo-Stonehouse is one of 11 people featured in the film. She shared stories and also collected tales from members of the Indigenous community.
“It wasn’t easy to sit and listen to heartbreak and sadness. But, the beauty of the story is the resilience and triumph,” Calahoo-Stonehouse said.
Loiselle said she hopes the stories in COVID Collections offers a new perspective.
“Some people are living through this pandemic the best way they can. I hope people can gain some empathy and understanding,” she said.
SkirtsAFire has moved into the old Army and Navy building on Whyte Avenue with an art installation in the front windows.
“We’ve also got a stage in the corner and we’re going to have singers there solo. Nobody else will be there and the music will be blasted out on Whyte Avenue,” Loiselle said.
Each story shared in COVID Collections is paired with a physical piece of art on display for the event.
SkirtsAFire runs from March 4 to 14. You can find more information on the website. The film premieres on Thursday.