IMF/ESF Interview

Transcript of interview published in the IMF/ESF, a Toronto-based bilingual newspaper for Portuguese speaking youth in the Diaspora.

Humberta Araujo (HA): Can you tell me more about yourself what you do, how you got engaged in video?
Kara Miranda Lawrence (KML): I am a recent graduate from the Emily Carr University Bachelors of Animation program with a life-long passion in the arts. At the end of high school I became very interested in a career in the film and television industry after attending an inspiring talk by a local artist Iain Mccaig, who not only has a successful career but an infectious passion and enthusiasm for his work. I was drawn particularly toward filmmaking because of the possibilities of combining so many disciplines into one such as music, movement and visual design. Inherently it is a collaborative art form and I thrive on working creatively with other artists.

HA: How was your experience in Azores and LabJovem?
KML: For LabJovem they had an open call for young artists of Azorean descent to submit work for many different categories and I am very pleased that my film "Oriana" has received recognition for this particular festival.

I created this piece as a direct response to a trip in 2007 where I was sponsored by Comunidades along with seven other dance professionals from North and South America of Azorean descent to collaborate and perform in Terceira Island. The experience was wonderful and it moved me to dedicate my other focus of filmmaking to create a film related to the Portuguese culture. In researching ideas, the late Portuguese author Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen's book "A Fada Oriana" really stood as being iconic and I heard it is a part of many Portuguese elementary school students’ curriculum. Upon receiving permission from Andresen's son to adapt the book, I decided to set the locale in the Azores with its beautiful green rolling hills, lush vibrant colours, exotic fauna, breathtaking ocean views along and with its picturesque villages.

Thus, it has great meaning to me that "Oriana" was selected as the best film by LabJovem because it has been recognized by the government of the islands from which this film was inspired. I was not able to make it for the February presentation event in Faial nor the showcase in the Teatro São Luiz theatre in Lisbon in March, but I am pleased to be sent to showcase my film through the islands in September in addition to my other sponsored trip by Comunidades that month for a flamenco dance performance and collaborative workshop.

HA: How important are these initiatives for diaspora youth?
KML: I believe these initiatives are very beneficial for diaspora youth - who by their definition feel displaced from their culture or the culture of their ancestors. For me, my involvement in these initiatives has been instrumental in renewing my sense of pride in my heritage and not only has forged life-long contacts with other like-minded Azoreans and sparked my interest in discovering more about my heritage, but as I previously mentioned it has directly inspired me want to contribute back and celebrate the Portuguese culture.

HA: What are the main issues youth from Portuguese origin are confronted with in your province?
KML: I cannot speak for the majority of the youth - only for my own situation. Growing up in a predominantly white community in Victoria I did not know anyone who shared my background even though I was curious to learn more about my heritage. It wasn’t until much later that we discovered a Portuguese church in the city, who host a celebrations open to the public. Upon moving to Vancouver, I found there are not only Portuguese churches, but there is the “Portuguese Benevolent Society”, a community established separate from the church including a large Portuguese Heritage month celebration in June, a Portuguese youth group and a monthly newspaper, the Lusitania. So I would say the issue is that we need to continue developing these cultural initiatives in our communities to provide an arena for youth to connect with others of their culture.

HA: What is your relationship with the Portuguese Language?
KML: Like most others who have families where one parent can only speak English, I did not grow up speaking my mother’s native language in my household. Currently, due to my great interest in reconnecting with my culture I have been studying Portuguese. Learning Spanish in high school has also helped me be able to understand some written and spoken words.

HA: What are your dreams for the future?
KML: My dreams include striving towards improving my skill in animation and my filmmaking craft, while keeping my dance career on the side. I would love to travel more in the future and with my newly acquired Portuguese citizenship I would like to live and work in Portugal some day. Also, I plan to continue collaborating with likeminded artists and perhaps create another film based on the Portuguese culture and/or Azorean stories.

HA: What is your opinion about the IMF/ESF project?
KML: I think it is an initiative that will have a positive impact on the Portuguese Canadian youth and will definitely be helpful for people who want to connect with their culture.

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