June 24th, 2024

Time of loneliness: Film screening to explore ‘The Great Disconnect’

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on January 5, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Two local organizations will be hosting screenings of a film that raises a question about the possibility to overcome our modern culture of disconnectedness and rediscover how truly essential we are to one another.

Be Fit for Life Centre’s Wellness Wednesday will be hosting a virtual screening of “The Great Disconnect” on Jan. 11 at 10 a.m. followed by a panel discussion with film maker Tamer Soliman, and an in-person screening of the film will be held at the Lethbridge Public Library on Jan. 16 at 6:30 p.m.

Director, producer and co-writer of The Great Disconnect, Tamer Soliman, said the film has been in distribution since 2019 and it has been shared through screening by various community organizations and non-profits who have an interest in community development, community enhancement or community engagement.

“When we launched the film, we basically opened up the idea that communities and organizations could screen the film and license it through us and we could also provide Q&A options which is a fun way to meet the filmmakers,” said Soliman.

He said from previous screenings and dialogues with viewers, many have realized the importance of having connections, especially after going through a period of isolation during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Connecting with communities and friendships and things we’re interested in is available to us 24 hours a day now, but when it was taken away from us, I think people who were connected I think fared better, and I think people who weren’t either went down a further difficult time, or really became sort of conscious of the fact that they really need to be reconnected,” said Soliman.

He said now that there is a sense of normalcy after the pandemic peak, people seem more receptive of the film and aware of what they can do.

Soliman said that before becoming a filmmaker he worked as a personal trainer and a nutritionist and he became interested in longevity books and he thought the secret to longevity would largely be about physical activity and nutrition, but he found the key to longevity was something else, something that sent him into a research path which ultimately led him to create the film.

“I assume that many of these books would really hammer home the idea that we need to eat well and we need to exercise, and if you got those two pieces correctly you will live a long life, but the overarching theme and the caveat of all of that was that many of these longevity books alluded to the importance of social connections, social relationships being a huge factor, if not the most important factor allowing us to be happy in a long life that we hopefully end up living,” said Soliman.

He said for him as someone who did not have any lack of social relationships, he found it difficult to believe the statistics that reference the fact that we are living in a time of loneliness and there’s more loneliness than ever before.

“It was hard to believe that was actually true, so we did all the research and interviews for the film and realized that this is a massive issue in society, and I think we need to address it,” said Soliman.

He said at the beginning they were not thinking about making the film, they were just very interested in the topic, but after a trip to a very rural area of Jamaica and experiencing the intense sense of community the people displayed he was propelled to make The Great Disconnect.

“I would say that the film has an ability to inspire you to value community more than you have in the past or enhance what you already know. I think what we found in screening the film is that people take away something that is different depending on their life circumstances, depending on what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis,” said Soliman.

He believes that no matter where, no matter how good someone’s social circles are, no matter how engaged or not in their community they are, there is something everyone will be able to take from the film that resonates with them.

“There is a thread through the film of a woman named Kirsten Southcott who was a condo dweller in downtown Vancouver, in her 20s, who basically attempted to invite neighbours within her condominium to see whether people would show up or not,” said Soliman.

He said those interested in finding out if her neighbours accepted her invitation and strangers turned to friends or not should go see the film.

For more info on the screenings or to register for the virtual event (no registration necessary for the in-person screening) visit https://bit.ly/GreatDisconnect or call 403-382-6919.

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