With an upcoming screening of a film called A Human Picture, the Basic Income Peterborough Network (BIPN) is hoping to “help galvanize public conversation and ideally influence policy-makers” around the importance of a basic income.
BIPN is co-presenting the short documentary on Friday, January 26th at 3 p.m. during the ReFrame Film Festival.
The film is about Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot project, which was launched in 2017 under the former Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne’s government. Shortly after being elected in 2018, the Ford government announced it was ending the pilot project.
Almost 4,000 people were enrolled in the pilot program in five regions: Lindsay, Thunder Bay, Hamilton, Brantford, and Brant County. A provincial minister said at the time it was part of a plan to “reform social assistance to help more people get back on track.”
The screening of A Human Picture, being held at the Peterborough Public Library, located at 345 Aylmer St. N., also includes a post-screening panel discussion called “Impact of Basic Income” with filmmakers Simon Brothers and Luke Mistruzzi, basic income pilot participant and activist Jessie Golem, and author and activist Jamie Swift.
“BIPN is thrilled to be able to partner with ReFrame for this event,” said BIPN’s Steph Benn. “We feel the film and the panel afterwards will help galvanize public conversation and ideally influence policy-makers to adequately address the growing epidemic of poverty and poverty-related issues in communities across Canada.”
Benn describes A Human Picture as “a powerful short honouring the lived experiences of some of the participants of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot.”
Specifically, the filmmakers were moved by the response of pilot project participant Jessie Golem after the newly elected Ford government unexpectedly and prematurely cancelled the pilot — “a devastating blow to the 4,000 Ontario participants,” Benn explained.
“Jessie’s response was to photograph many of the participants as they held signs to say what basic income had meant for them. It was a beautiful effort by Jessie to document what participants had experienced.”
BICN is screening the film because it sheds light on such vital issues, Benn said.
“Many community members are living with extreme poverty, insecurity, precarious housing, poor health, access to education, opportunity, and loneliness. Poverty can be extremely isolating. The impact of poverty on families and individuals is devastating and current social safety policies are stigmatizing and inadequate.”
Benn hopes the film offers the audience a chance to listen to some of the pilot’s participants, who share what it meant to them to be able to make ends meet.
“The film is a beautiful documentation of many important aspects of this story.”
The panel afterwards provides attendees with the opportunity to ask questions and share experiences from a variety of different perspectives, she added.
“We hope that many will leave the event determined to make the elimination of poverty and a guaranteed livable income a public demand, an election issue, and a reason for hope,” Benn said.
“A guaranteed livable income shifts the approach away from safety nets and instead moves us toward a raised floor — giving everyone that needs it, a guaranteed livable income with no strings attached.”
More information about the film and panel discussion is available on the ReFrame website at https://reframefilmfestival.ca/film/a-human-picture/, where you can also purchase passes and individual tickets.
To promote income-based accessibility to the festival, ReFrame provides a pay-what-you-can option for individual screenings (tickets are available at festival venues 20 minutes in advance of screenings).
ReFrame also distributes a limited number of free festival passes and ticket packages to the community through the Community Access Program. These are available to the public through the Peterborough Public Library. ReFrame also partners with local advocacy groups and service organizations to distribute free tickets to their membership.