Catching a breath as winter ends

Posted by in Academix, Cinema Politica, Personal Travails

A portrait of me done by Amanda McCuaig - thanks for making me look ten years younger!!

A portrait of me done by Amanda McCuaig for (we all got them….really) – thanks for making me look ten years younger!!

As March comes to a rainy end, I can finally take a moment to catch my breath. It’s been busier than usual around here, both for Svetla and myself. The book tour has been a real time-sucker, but it’s paid off: we’ve had great launches in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and just a few days ago in Vancouver where over 100 turned up. There’s one left, in Halifax, and Svetla and I will travel with co-editor Tom Waugh on April 15th by train for that one (21 hours – it’s going to be sooooo relaxing). We’re going to turn that trip into a bit of a getaway and stay on the east coast for at least a week. Svetla’s never been to Atlantic Canada, and we need a break as well as a change of scenery (not to mention some of that famous East Coast hospitality).

This past Friday marked the finale of a couple of other major jobs: Cinema Politica passed a referendum question at Concordia to increase our fee levy from two cents per credit per student to seven. This was quite a feat considering all the other fee levy questions failed, and despite still being by far the smallest fee levy on campus we remain subject to unfair attacks from bloggers like Steve Faguy. At any rate, provided it goes through Concordia’s Board of Governors smoothly, we’ve just ensured CP Concordia will be sustainable long after Svetla and I have finally left the school (the mother hens need to leave the nest eventually!). This was incredibly important to us – to make sure the original Cinema Politica chapter has a decent enough budget to hire a coordinator and keep going for as long as students want to show up to see documentaries (last semester we had almost 7,000 come through the doors, so apparently they still do).

The other good news on Friday was that I successfully passed my Second Comprehensive PhD Exam. For the last year I researched and wrote a huge essay on audience theory and research. Because it was largely a literature review, I admittedly struggled with it. On Friday, after several drafts and revisions, I successfully defended the paper to my committee. What is so relieving about this moment is that now I am in the final stretch of my PhD: for the next 12-18 months (I know what you’re thinking: how is that a final stretch?) I will only work on my thesis. The process starts with me writing then defending a 20-25 page thesis proposal, which I’ve already begun researching.

Cinema Politica continues to dominate all our free time, but we are taking steps to reclaim our lives: we recently got an office (next to our friends at RIDM – the documentary festival of Montreal – and Peripheria Productions), we have an AMAZING intern working for us who recently submitted a massive application to the Quebec Arts Council for funding (thank you Patrick!!), and we are bringing much-needed structure to our non-profit. Hopefully this means that over the next few months, Svetla and I will be able to move CP out of our house and into the office and begin delegating a lot of what we do to some staff (if we get more funding), volunteers, and of course Yoana, Svetla’s sister (thank you Bulgaria!).

In the meantime, we’re dealing with constant growth of the network all over the world and across Canada. We also have some big collaborations with other organizations in the works, and we’re planning a big meeting of all the network chapters this summer, during the academic conference taking place in Montreal at the end of May. And  at least this semester we’ve been recognized for our hard work: We both received a “Sustainable Champion Award” for sustaining community and the environment and Svetla just received a CCSL Award (Outstanding Contribution to Community and Student Life). Feels good!!

It’s too bad I didn’t get to see my family while I was in Vancouver, but I was only there for a few days and we’ll be back later this summer. It was nice to see all my old west coast friends though, and the cherry blossoms, and the sea wall, and…

Oh, the portrait is of me, done by Vancouver-based artist Amanda McCuaig for our “about us” page on the Art Threat site – she did them for all of us! Se did give me quite the makeover…