A Night with Cameron Bailey and Girlfriends

Yesterday night, I wasn’t suppose to stay back in my university town. I had already booked my train ticket to go home but there was something that kept gnawing at me at the back of my mind. I needed to stay in town and had to do attend something.  I had been sent an email in my student account that Cameron Bailey was coming to town a month ago. I didn’t know who he was really but I knew he was doing something I was interested in. He was the Artistic Director of TIFF. I told myself I’ll go but didn’t necessarily promise myself that I would. I understood he was an Alumni of my university and was being brought in by the Public Humanity’s program – a discipline that I admire highly and wished at times that I be part of it academically during my undergraduate which is now ending.  I was sort of in-between whether I’d go or not. But two things that kept the idea of going alive:

1) Last year, I lived very close to the local museum where Cameron Bailey would be hosted. I passed by it all the time but usually it would be late evening when I’d end up going for walks that I never had a chance to see the museum from the inside. I always remained curious about the place. Its lit beautifully at night.

2) I found TIFF to be attractive because I am by nature a restless soul seeking stories that held the power to shift my perspective in life. I wanted to see if  going to his talk could move me, force a shift in my mind and allow me to be a little dispositioned. And so yesterday, despite not being able to cancel my tickets (VIA RAILWAY when did you start having a 24 hour rule of cancelling) I decided I could not leave my university town and had to attend. I had asked my roommate about a day before and one of colleague/friend if they would be up for it – they were excited to come. And it didn’t matter that I just wasted $60 on train tickets that I was not going to use because showing up at the local museum and hearing Bailey speak about international cinema was invaluable.

We ended up being the second group their and had first dibs in attacking the refreshments – carrots, chocolate squared cakes, watermelon (my favourite fruit EVER). We were set for the talk. I had to admit that the introduction was poorly done by the Dean of Public Humanities. He used the word “whatever” – thats just wrong. You cannot do that. Honestly, I think I could have done a better job making an impactful introduction on the importance of humanities- without it we are a dead civilization. I don’t think the Dean understood that or at least he was not very convincing of this. Moving on, the following are some points that stood out to me in Bailey’s talk.

1) His screensaver was his little son. I think in this line of work, being professional yet personal is super important. It was a good point to share. He also talked about his time at my university, where he earned an English degree and how he was at the university for five years. It was great to hear that my university still lives in his life. I could relate and I know my university will stay close to me throughout my life.

2) He is a global citizen and knows what he is talking about. I can tell he lives and breathes film. Among many other things, he discussed Bollywood, and South Korean cinema. He named many actors like Amitabh Bachan, Sharukh Khan, Parineeti Chopra, and Cold Eyes (Squirrel). Upon my question whether they are “fishing and hunting” movies from Pakistan his answer was informative. He mentioned he had visited Lahore (where I was born), and named a movie called Zinda Bhaag which they are trying to view. I had never heard of it but it was nice to know that it had been considered as an Oscar nominee. If they viewed it, I knew I’d go watch it in September. I had already been DESPERATE to watch few Pakistani movies that could not be viewed in Canada. Other than a youtube channel there is no access to viewing these movies, aka WAAR and Chambaili. He didn’t seem to recognize the tittles but still I hope that perhaps TIFF may consider them. It was nice to know that Pakistan is under TIFF’s tracks. Pakistan mattered.

3) TIFF matters and he sold it well. I have spiritually felt culture and arts are vital to living a fulfilling life. He traced the cultural arts of Toronto’s History by discussing  the orange order and Nathan Phillip. Reflecting back on yesterday night, honestly what an asset to know about history of Toronto. I am student of international relations programs  but most of the time I am studying  about Canadian national politics, European history and I usually keep myself informed about Middle Eastern/Pakistani and South East Asia as much as I can. But I never had paid attention to my own city’s history. I wondered but never enough to dig. And now I want to dig.

4) He mentioned number of Festivals around GTA. Holly smokes, I think I know what I will be doing this spring. Yes, catching the outdoor festivals. I really and I mean I really really need to get out and allow myself to soak in all of the artistic spirit around here. I haven’t even touched on my two awesome girlfriends who came out with and the dinner following the talk – and I could say attending the two hour talk moved me. I thought about it yesterday night, maybe even dreamt about it and then woke up contemplating on this.

I will say two things that I think could be improved. This included things such as:

1) the little clip Bailey showed in the beginning of what TIFF–stardom and screaming public. All of it is great and adds a tone of energy. I didn’t understand why the audience didn’t react. I wanted to jump and start applauding at minimum. That being said the clip was well hyped and didn’t really capture what I thought of it. TIFF to me is about creating thought where viewing movies and working in TIFF is an opportunity to dig deeper into the meaning behind life and humanity. Its a celebration and a conundrum at the same time. But I think he will also agree that the clip didn’t completely capture TIFF and only partially.

2) You need to give out contact information. How can we contact you? Yes, I know I can look you up and google pages. But it be great for this information to be included for those who are amateur in this field. That being said, Bailey was a good presenter and most importantly humble in his presentation. Keep up this attitude and people like me have no choice but to appreciate film in the way you do.

Further, Bailey coming out to a talk at the local museum also was a social occasion for me. I hung out with my two beautiful and awesome girlfriend who had not met each other before. Coincidentally, they both happen to be from medical field. We caught dinner at a local South Korean restaurant called Ozen. We were seated on the second floor with great music and basketball game on. Our conversation was personal. We talked about dating, career, family and friends. The conversation was serious at times but light and fun at other times. To enjoy a dinner like we did, the recipe was apparent.

And I don’t mean the ingredients that made my food delicious, but socially the ingredients to a wonderful night included revealing yourself, being open, accepting and appreciative. All three of us came from such different ethnic backgrounds, and experience lives differently in university, yet we sat their with so much ease and interested in how we saw culture and life. Bailey had brought up the night food and market culture which we ended up talking about. One of my girlfriend found it interesting that Bailey had been to South Korea and she brought up the fact that her parents had been raised in the city he he had visited. All of this really made the occasion feel like an international travel date night. The night did not end their as my roommate and I decided that there are few other places we need to checkmark before the year is over. This made the night at the Museum with Bailey the first check off that list.

To the last fews weeks at my university, I hope to gather more beautiful memories and attend gatherings that will fuel me for the life and world beyond.  I guess I’ve got to say thanks to Cameron Bailey for the night 🙂 But most importantly, I’d like to say thanks to the universe for making this a more then perfect night. Thanks.


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