Alone Together: A Mini Film Festival

Cities, Community Building, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, 2012, Arts + Culture

Remember the first time you went to the cinema?  The smell of the popcorn, the cushiony chairs, the enormity of the screen… Seeing a film can be a solitary passion or a fun night out with friends, but regardless of the social circumstances, when we’re in a theatre watching a film, there’s a shared collective sensory experience. 

For two days, SFU Public Square invited you to come and escape into the world of film.  The Alone Together Film Festival featured movies that probed the issues of isolation and disconnection in our urban environment – the things that bring us together and the things that push us apart. 

The Festival opened on Saturday September 22nd with An Evening Tribute to Shorts  – a collection ranging from animation and experimental to documentary and narrative - films that explored the nuances of belonging, migration, identity, and human connection.

On September 23rd, it’s Sunday afternoon at the Cinema highlighting the feature-length documentary “This Space Available” which explored how billboards and commercial advertisements dominate our public space, and “One Voice”, the short music video that demonstrated the power of music as a connecting force.

Hosted at the Westminster Savings Credit Union Cinema in the beautiful SFU Surrey building (at the Surrey Central Skytrain station), the festival connected film buffs and community activists with students and newcomers.  

And the best part of all – it’s free!

Free admission. (Seats available on a first come, first served basis)

Saturday: An Evening Tribute to Shorts – 7pm to 9pm

Sunday: Afternoon at the Cinema – 2pm to 4pm

An Evening Tribute to Shorts: Sat, 22 Sep 2012

7:00 - 9:00 p.m. (PT)

Afternoon at the Cinema: Sun, 23 Sep 2012

2:00 - 4:00 p.m. (PT)

Westminster Savings Lecture Theatre (Room 2600)
SFU Surrey
250-13450 102nd Avenue, Surrey

About Alone Together: Connecting in the City

In this inaugural SFU Public Square Community Summit, we explored the issue of civic disconnection and discussed ways of strengthening engagement across community and cultural divides. Over six event packed days, we heard from citizens, artists, librarians, businesses, film makers, and mayors in our region, we learned how youth would create a more connected city, and we celebrated the extra-ordinary people who surround us and work to make our lives better, bringing neighbourhoods and communities together.

Learn More


A Hair on Your Heart

Canada / 2012 / 19 min / 7:00 pm, Sep. 22 (Sat.)

Director: Young Cho

Mike and Erin are pharmacists working in a lab. They have been friends for a long time.  Mike has never been in love, but Erin is quite a love 'expert'. After watching a movie together, Mike finds out that the actress in the movie lives in the same apartment with him. One day, Mike discovers a science report that reveals a hair-like structure growing on a person's heart when one is in love.

Aboard the Pater Noster

Canada / 2008 / 18 min / 7:00 pm, Sep. 22 (Sat.)

Director: Daniel Conrad

Choreographed by Aszure Barton, whom Baryshnikov calls " of the most innovative choreographers of this generation," this film invents a tribe of humans trying to make sense of their dehumanized lives, as they pass through Prague. Riding on a "pater noster," a cyclical, continuous elevator in which multiple door-less cars are strung along the cables like beads on a rosary, and then aboard a streetcar cycling in an endless loop, humans are so submerged in cities that the cycles of our lives are invisible. This film offers new ways of looking at the craving for human contact, and the sense of being alone together.


Canada / 2008 / 12 min / 7:00 pm, Sep. 22 (Sat.)

Director: Penelope Buitenhuis

A woman locks herself out of the house dressed only in a slip in the cold. After getting stuck trying to scale the house, she can only hope that a neighbour will come to her rescue.

Gains + Losses

Canada / 2011 / 4 min / 7:00 pm, Sep. 22 (Sat.)

Director: Leslie Supnet

Through situational vignettes, gains + losses illustrates the filmmaker's thoughts on death and other personal, day-to-day anxieties.  The work touches on internal grief, tempered with a playful sense of humour and lo-fidelity charm.


Canada / 2011 / 5 min  / 7:00 pm, Sep. 22 (Sat.)

Director: Owen Eric Wood

In this video self-portrait, the filmmaker expresses his experiences of migration, both long term and short term, as a tourist and as a resident. Is it possible to connect to foreign lands? Is International travel erasing ethnic and national identity? And, more personally, does the experience of traveling leave the traveler feeling lost?

One Voice

Canada / 2012 / 4 min  / 7pm Sep. 22 (Sat.) / 2pm Sep. 23 (Sun.)

Director: Sarah Van Borek

Premiering at the Opening Night at the Alone Together Community Summit, this inspirational video demonstrates the power of music as a connecting force.

This Space Available

USA / 2011 / 87 min / 2:00 pm, Sep. 23 (Sun.)

Director: Gwenaëlle Gobé

Billboards and commercial messages dominate the public space like never before. Are the efforts to reverse this trend signaling a movement?

From 240 hours of film, 160 interviews, and visits to 11 countries on five continents, this film charts a fascinating variety of struggles against unchecked advertising and suggests that more than aesthetics is at stake. Filmmaker Gwenaëlle Gobé says “yes!” Influenced by the writing of her father, Marc Gobé (Emotional Branding), this new director brings energy and urgency to stories of people around the world fighting to reclaim their public spaces from visual pollution.

Vectors of Autism

USA / 2011 / 50 min / 7:00 pm, Sep. 22 (Sat.)

Director: John Schaffer

“Vectors of Autism” is a captivating look at the experiences of an autistic adult, Laura Nagle. Exploring Laura's experiences and her ideas about autism, along with her unique artistic drawings, provides a window into a story of a life lived on the Autism spectrum. Laura's ability to provide expression to this perspective (her self-described "super-power") is both entertaining and insightful.

In the News

SFU Public Square promotes greater ties with community — Charlie Smith, The Georgia Straight (June 20, 2012)

Opening a Public Square: SFU closes gap in “disconnected” community — Andrew Petter, The Vancouver Sun (June 18, 2012)

Further Reading

Why Do We Stay Unconnected?
By Novia Shih-Shan Chen
PhD Candidate, Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies (Simon Fraser University)
Assistant Festival Director, SFU Public Square Alone Together Film Festival

Reports and Resources

Alone Together: Connecting in the City Events

  • Alone Together: A Mini Film Festival

    Cities, Community Building, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, 2012, Arts + Culture

    Films from across the globe, exploring the issue of isolation in the urban environment, was screened at the Westminster Savings Credit Union SFU Surrey Theater for the Alone Together Film Festival.

    Read More →

  • Rain City Chronicles – Extra Ordinary

    Arts + Culture, Cities, Community Building, 2012, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City

    An evening of storytelling and music, this event featured extra–ordinary community folks sharing personal reflections on how they have brought their neighborhoods and communities together.

    Read More →

  • Urban Conspiracy Cabaret

    Arts + Culture, Cities, Community Building, 2012, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City

    CBC Debaters Charlie Demers and Richard Side hosted a unique and eclectic night of comedy, music, arts and poetry.

    Read More →

  • Lonely in Vancouver | City Conversations

    Cities, Community Building, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, 2012, Series City Conversations

    As part of the SFU Public Square Community Summit, City Conversations will feature a dialogue on the Vancouver Foundation report on isolation in the region, featuring the foundation’s Catherine Clement, Vice President, Public Engagement and Communications, and Daphne Bramham, award-winning columnist for the Vancouver Sun.

    Read More →

  • Creating A Connected City: The Role of Business in Addressing Urban Isolation

    Cities, Community Building, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, 2012, Economy, Future of Work

    Metro Vancouver's business leaders discussed the role that the business community plays in building urban connections.

    Read More →

  • Big Ideas for Libraries in Communities

    Cities, Community Building, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, 2012, Arts + Culture

    Community spirit thrived at libraries – virtual, cooperative, academic and public! We heard the top ten ideas submitted by community members, on how libraries can contribute to building stronger and more meaningful connections.

    Read More →

  • Our Voices: Youth Building a Connected City

    Cities, Community Building, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, 2012

    Designed for youth, by youth, explored issues related to isolation and disconnection while helping develop solutions at this interactive daylong conference.

    Read More →

  • Opening Night at the Orpheum!

    Cities, Community Building, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, 2012

    Where it all began! Featured some of Canada's innovative minds discussing how we can create more connected communities. With special appearances by Bend Sinister and Shane Koyczan.

    Read More →

  • Alone Together: Connecting a City with One Voice

    2012, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, Cities, Arts + Culture, Community Building

    The SFU Public Square ONE VOICE Music Project is an exciting initiative that harnesses the power of music, media, performance and collaboration to bridge across differences and inspire meaningful connections between (and an appreciation for) our diverse community members.

    Read More →

  • Open Space

    Cities, Community Building, Summit Alone Together Connecting in the City, 2012

    A public square is not only a place for SFU to engage with the community, it is also a space where individuals and community groups may self-organize. We were excited to offer free open space at our three SFU campuses as part of the Alone Together Community Summit.

    Read More →