Three youth participants: Evan Hsieh, Lou Mendoza and Kartik Kumar. ( Photo: Thea Loo)

Updated: May 4, 2019, 3:19 PM

2nd update: May 30,2019, 9:00 AM

Think Tank 2019 at the Vancouver Art Gallery

By Patricia Chan

This April the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) hosted a Think Tank in collaboration with The Cinematheque, a non-profit organization who’s mission is to educate youth on the transformative art of cinema, and Out in Schools, an education program that uses film and facilitated discussion to engage students on issues of homophobia, transphobia, and bullying.

Their goal was to engage students through a creative filmmaking program facilitating discussion on the issues of identity, LGBTQ2+ community, and performance through visuals. This Think Tank worked to respond to the recent exhibition installed in the VAG entitled “Moving Still: Performative Photography in India”.

Those involved were students in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver who were interested in exploring the themes of gender, identity, and migration through filmmaking. These students had the opportunity, over the course of the program, to work with artists and educators from The Cinematheque, Out In Schools, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Students received filmmaking training, participated in thought-provoking group discussions and presentations, and channeled their learning and reflection into their own creative film projects. They also had the opportunity to meet Naveen Kishore, one of the artists exhibiting in the gallery, and received feedback from him on their work. 

This year’s Think Tank at the VAG saw a number of young filipinos participating in the program. Indeed, in each of the three groups  that produced  a film, there was a filipino youth or young adult involved in the creation. These films were screened at the Vancouver Art Gallery on April 30th. 

The first film, Boy, was produced by filipina Lou Mendoza and her partners Kartik Kumar and Evan Hsieh. Boy explores the theme of masculinity and the way in which masculine ideals are often projected onto people. It also touches on what is sometimes a conflict between the inner reality and outer expressions of individuals, as well as the passing down of traditional norms and ideals from one generation to the next. 

The second film Think Tank 2019 was created by UBC teaching candidates, filipina Rhea Paez and her partner Gabrielle Egan, fulfilling their practicum at the VAG. The film showcased footage of other groups in the process of making their own films, and interviewed the student filmmakers to unpack their ideas of self within the LGBTQ community. 

The final film  was Becoming Me, produced by filipina Maya Arradaza and her partners Karter Alexander and Corey Kuefler Ter-Weeme. Becoming Me is a film about how individuals evolve and discover their true selves, which may differ from the gender-normative ideals that have been placed on them since they were young. It is about shedding the old self – including what is referred to as their “dead names” – and embracing the true self. 


Each group did a fantastic job and it is encouraging to see young filipinos getting involved, showing leadership initiative, expressing themselves creatively, and being part of the conversations that shape our society and culture. 

Notably, the filipino involvement in VAG’s Think Tank 2019 goes beyond the students who participated, but also includes filipina project mentor Thea Loo from The Cinematheque, and siblings Jay and Joella Cabalu who were featured in the film On Allyship, which the students viewed as part of the program. 

Think Tank is a great program for equipping today’s youth with new skills, encouraging them to be involved in important conversations, and empowering them to find outlets for creative self-expression. We look forward to seeing more filipino youth participation in programs such as this so that they can be empowered to be the leaders, creators, and thinkers of our future.


(Patricia Chan is  a 27- year old aspiring writer, recently out of grad school. She studied English Literature at Western University  in London, Ontario and have gone on to do a graduate diploma in Christian Theology at Regent College.

The young mother is a huge lover of nature and animals. She has embraced a vegan lifestyle.)