Unlocked 
A Flow of Colourful Connections in Lockdown
An art video project created in 2020  during the Covid-19 pandemic

In the Spring of 2020, Jamii and Canadian Stage partnered to invite eleven women, residents of the Esplanade community, to express artistically their personal journey during the COVID-19 pandemic through the creation of a reflective art video, later collaboratively titled “Unlocked (A flow of colourful connections in lockdown)”. 

As part of the creative process, the participating women were each paired with a professional artist, each pair was then invited to write a scene, acted out by each of the women, and edited together in this unique video. This artistic collaboration started with a conversation based on a neighbour’s comment in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic’s lockdown: “Three-quarters of my identity are gone” and the ensuing question “What’s left of me?”. We believe most of us can relate to this, both in an enriching or disarming way.   

The resulting art video is an abstract symphony of thoughts, emotions, and reflective times. Participating women expressed their journeys from isolated days that connected them with close family, to sleepless nights which drew them to take a closer look inward, and to new relations to time that led them to dive into forgotten interests. Some found themselves in empty streets which used to paint their life with colour; some found joy and comfort in creative outlets that provided them with a safe space during social isolation; while others stepped into reflection and projected reminders to their children of their beauty, strength and worth to take up space in the world.  

Some of the participants felt like melancholy and hope were blending in together. When some of them felt lost, they researched their own spirituality and celebrated love. This creative journey has been a spiritual, emotional, and communal experience for all involved. 

By sharing their stories in this video, we are inviting viewers to contemplate how the pandemic has impacted each of us differently, offering a range of perspectives from our community, and inviting the rest of the digital world on this journey with us. 

“Unlocked (A flow of colourful connections in lockdown)” premieres at the Berkeley Theatre on July 24th and 25th.

 

This project is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and Toronto Arts Council. This project is an adaption of WIND STORIES – an initiative that was adjusted due to COVID-19 impact on live arts.  

Book your free ticket HERE to attend in-person the outdoor premiere of the event.

Book your free ticket HERE to watch the online premiere of UNLOCKED.

FILM CREDITS

Produced by Jamii

In partnership with Canadian Stage

 

Directed and Produced by: 

Charmaine Kachibaia & Isorine Marc  

 

WRITTEN BY:  

Afsheen Chowdhury, Aziza Virani,  Bana Stegu, Britta Badour, Francisca Zentilli, Helena Maragos, Indrit Kasapi, Isorine Marc, Julie Nadine, Karen Lam, Kerryn Graham, Lilly Otieno, Mihaly Szabados , 

Paula Wing, Samantha Stewart, Sharon Zarita, Sid Aakowa, Takako Segawa, Tanjin Ashraf, Teilhard Frost, Tereka Smith,  Wendy Devine  

 

CAST (in alphabetical order): 

Aela Kuria, Afsheen Chowdhury, Aziza Virani,  Bana Stegu, 

Daniella Gakumba, Francisca Zentilli,  Gennavive Marshall, Gergetet Abdelmalak, Helena Maragos, Isabella Mutoni, Julie Nadine , Karen Lam,  Lilly Otieno,  Michele Brennan, Mireille Ouellet, Paula Wing, Tanjin Ashraf, Tereka Smith,  Verna Chong, Wendy Devine  

 

Director of Photography: 
Nick Kay  

Production Coordinator:  Sharon Zarita  

 

EditorNick Kay  

 

Assistant EditorCharmaine Kachibaia 

  

Sound Design and Audio MixMatthew Maaskaant  

 

Original Score:  

Teilhard Frost and Jason Mercer 

Recorded at Neptune's Machine 

Engineered and mixed by Jason Mercer  

 

Original Music

“WAVES” 

Written, produced, recorded and performed by Bana Stegu 

“Set It Free”  

Written by Robert Graham  

BEHIND THE SCENE  photos
PROJECT TEAM

Aela is a young Esplanadian, always enthusiastic to participate in Jamii projects.

Esplanadian (participant)

Aela Kuria 

Aziza Virani works in international education, and creates art in her spare time. She is especially interested in ways of using art to create community, dialogue, and belonging. Aziza works with abstract forms of art and colour. In addition to art, Aziza is passionate about travel and languages. 

Esplanadian (participant)

Aziza Virani 

Britta B., is a Kingston-born, Toronto-based spoken word poet, public speaker, emcee and artist educator.  Her writing, often autobiographical, explores relationships to domestic violence, mental wellness, Blackness and women’s empowerment.  She is an alumna of the Toronto Arts Council Leaders Lab and a member of the League of Canadian Poets.  As an artist educator, she has mentored thousands of youth through programs initiated by organizations like UNITY Charity, JAYU, Poetry In Voice, Prologue Performing Arts and The Power Plant.  Currently, Britta is a Creative Writing MFA candidate at University of Guelph. 

Professional Artist

Britta Badour

Daniella is a young Esplanadian, thrilled to be a part of the Jamii family and very artistic.

Esplanadian (participant)

Daniella Gakumba 

Gennavive Marshall is a 13-year-old girl who loves to paint, draw and be actively involved in creative community projects. She values friendship and fellowship.  

Esplanadian (participant)

Gennavive Marshall

Gergetet is a resident of Centre d'Accueil Héritage. 

Esplanadian (participant)

Gergetet Abdel

Born in Albania, Indrit moved to Toronto in his early teens. He is the Founding and current Artistic Producer for lemonTree creations and Associate Artistic Director for Theatre Passe Muraille. Indrit has been a company member of the award-winning dance theatre company CORPUS since 2008. Through Corpus he has helped develop and premiere two new works (Machina Nuptialis, House Guests) and continued touring other repertoire to North America, Europe and Asia. He’s a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, a 2018 Harold Award Winner and Dora Nominated performer (Box 4901, Ensemble). Upcoming: Toka (Writer/Choreographer, lemonTree creations/TPM). Indrit is thrilled to be continuing his work with Jamii and learned so much about Astral Projection thanks to Karen! 

Professional Artist

Indrit Kasapi 

Isorine Marc, Founder and Executive & Artistic Director of Jamii, has initiated, produced and directed several arts-based community-engaged projects and events including FORTY-ONE (2015), Patchwork Village (2016), and FEETPRINT (2017). In 2018, Isorine produced the award-winning film “At Heart, Citizens of The Esplanade”, and in 2019, Isorine launched the Kisanii Hub, a mobile outdoor theatre for The Esplanade community. Isorine is currently producing Wind Stories, an intra-provincial project intending to build bridges between the Esplanade, Toronto and three other communities in Ontario. Isorine, originally from France, studied at the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland - 2003) and graduated from the University of Brest, France, where she obtained her Master's Degree in Performing Arts Management (2006).  

Film director

Isorine Marc 

Karen Lam is a young woman who loves to express herself through visual arts. She stays active within the community by participating in creative projects. She will soon be studying Acting for Media at George Brown College.

Esplanadian (participant)

Karen Lam 

Lilly Otieno is a Kenyan-Canadian Actress, Model, Stylist, and Entrepreneur. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Textile, Design and Fashion Merchandising from Maseno University and is now a student at Dalhousie University School of Social Work. She currently lives in Toronto and is a mother to two beautiful girls. 

Esplanadian (participant)

Lilly Otieno 

Michele is a resident of Centre d'Accueil Heritage.

Esplanadian (participant)

Michele Brennan 

Mireille is a resident of Centre d'Accueil Heritage.

Esplanadian (participant)

Mireille Ouellet 

Nick Kay is a cinematographer born in Tbilisi, Georgia during the final years of the collapsing Soviet Union. At just eight years old, Nick immigrated to Canada, a move that expanded his understanding of cultural diversity and forced him to develop creative ways of adapting. His difficulties learning to express himself in a new world deepened his desire to learn and continues to fuel this desire to examine the world. Nick views filmmaking as an opportunity to take a deeper look, examine life and illuminate its beauty through creative expression.  

Professional Artist

Nick Kay

Samantha Stewart is a dance teacher and small business owner who lives with her family in the small northern town of Wawa Ontario. From the disciplines of Ballet to Street, Samantha believes that dance has the power to build community, healthy active lifestyles and self-esteem. 

Professional Artist

Samantha Stewart

Sid Aakowa is a writer, singer-songwriter and director. He uses his work as a vehicle to inspire listeners and generate relevant discussions. Recently, he launched his own platform called B.u.Zic World, which reflects those ideals. Visit www.aakowa.com for more information. 

Professional Artist

Sid Aakowa

Tanjin has been living in the Esplanade community for the past 23 years. She is a certified Primary/Junior teacher and has taught in five countries. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in education at Deakin University, Australia.

Esplanadian (participant)

Tanjin Ashraf  

Toronto born Tereka Smith has many passions such as gardening, singing, writing poetry and short stories. She believes art is fluid and enjoys trying new mediums whenever the opportunity arises and was very pleased to be part of Jamii's current project and to have the opportunity to explore those boundaries in a comfortable and positive atmosphere. 

Esplanadian (participant)

Tereka Smith 

Takako Segawa, of Kochi, Japan, grew up with a traditional background, training in traditional arts & contemporary Japanese movement styles throughout her youth. She has performed with dance & theatre companies throughout Europe. In Canada she has worked with independents, such as Corpus, Jamii & has collaborated with Maxine Heppner since 2004. Honours include; Dora Award nominee as outstanding female dance performer for her interpretation of Heppner’s Moments-in-Time 2015, ‘Soloist of great mastery’ at the Stuttgart International Solo Dance Festival 2005, choreographer Lila Zafiroplos, & two-time honouree by the Kobe National Dance Awards.  OAC, TAC, CCA has supported her own creation of a contemporary Kabuki work & most recent commissioned piece by Tedd Robinson. 

Professional Artist

Takako Segawa

Afsheen Chowdury aspires to be the Prime Minister of Canada one day and while she waits for her destiny to come true, she enjoys painting small pieces with watercolor. Rather than painting people and creatures, she enjoys painting nature with the colors of moods and feelings. She believes that we don’t need art to be alive, but certainly need art to feel alive. 

Esplanadian (participant)

Afsheen Chowdhury

Arlene is a soulful singer-songwriter whose deliciously sweet and silky voice will make you wish you could taste the air upon which her heartfelt and clever sounds soar. Backed by an intrinsically gifted band of merry music makers, the live Arlene experience is simultaneously explosive and embracing, and a feeling you won’t soon forget. An award-winning musician, this Mississauga native has enchanted crowds across Canada, UK, Europe and the US since 2010 with inspired original music and ingenious homages to the artists she covers. Past performances include: JUNO Fest (London), Aeolian Hall, Living Arts Centre, TEDx Mississauga, Meadowvale Theatre, Sound of Music Club Series, Paisley Arts Festival (Scotland).  

Professional Artist

Arlene Paculan

Since the age of six, Bana Stegu has found great joy and catharsis in taking inspiration from life experience and composing songs the world can sing. In recent years, she has worked with top pop music producers and is expanding her reach. She also enjoys painting, musical theatre and baking. 

Esplanadian (participant)

Bana Stegu 

Charmaine Kachibaia is a Producer and Director with a passion for storytelling that stems from a deep yearning to understand and honor life. Charmaine believes that as a filmmaker you have a duty to bring awareness, inspire action, and uplift the spirit. This notion is what drives all her work and will continually be the backbone of every project she takes on. She is dedicated to living a life of service and leaving a positive impact on the world one story at a time.  

Film Director

Charmaine Kachibaia

Franscisca (Kika) is a storyteller at heart, be it through dance, writing, painting, acting or a combination of all. She hopes people find their own stories. 

Esplanadian (participant)

Francisca Zentilli 

Helena Maragos has had a love for dance since she was 3 years old; taking ballet, jazz and hip hop throughout the years. This passion is a part of who she is, and she loves to share it with others. 

Esplanadian (participant)

Helena Maragos 

Isabella is a young Esplanadian, excited be a part of artistic projects from a young age

Esplanadian (participant)

Isabella Mutoni 

Julie Nadine, an Esplanadian for over a decade, is Mama to two amazing boys, one of whom happens to have an extra chromosome. She is passionate about living life with extreme empathy and radical acceptance for all. She is a lover of the arts, especially drawn to poetry, dance and signing (ASL). This art project has inspired and reminded her that creativity is a portal to love and joy. She will be forever grateful for the beautiful new friendships that have been made during its production. 

Esplanadian (participant)

Julie Nadine 

Kerryn Graham is a visual artist specializing in painting, drawing and ceramics. Motivated and inspired by society she enjoys discovering how complex and fascinating the world is.

Professional Artist

Kerryn Graham  

Toronto based sound designer Matthew Maaskant is a clear multidisciplinarian, able to splash around the exchange, chatting about everything and nothing: a gold miner, watching the stream drift past, while still completely alert enough to detect pattern and meaning. He brings this to his composition and music production, panning for beauty: ideas, sounds, collaborators and time, scattered bits that wash through his hand and he catches a flash here, a twinkle there and builds delicate structures of sound. After years releasing independent music through the Berlin based label New Kanada, Maaskant now dedicates his time to audio production for video and film.

Professional Artist

Matthew Maaskaant 

Mihaly Szabados is a rainbow-spirited actor-director and filmmaker. Mihaly hails from Hungary and moved to Toronto in 2012, where he graduated from Second City Conservatory. Mihaly has performed a principal role in Murdoch Mysteries, co-wrote, directed and performed in 'Unexpectedly Trans’ and directed and performed (Bob) in ‘Bubble Trans Pride'. With over 100 credits on IMDB, his first Canadian short film ‘The Legend of Iza’ won an honorable mention at the 2015 Canadian and International Short Film Festival. He has directed and co-created short films with Hanlon McGregor as part of the Under The Bus Productions collective; recently created two one-man shows ‘C for Cyrano’ and ‘M for Misanthrope.’ and visited New York City where he acted in two short films: One Night Only and Bitter Pill. 

Professional Artist

Mihaly Szabados 

Paula Wing is an internationally produced playwright, translator and a former Resident Artist at both Soulpepper and Young Peoples Theatre. Paula teaches in theatres, schools and community spaces across the GTA and across the country. 

Professional Artist

Paula Wing 

Sharon Zarita is a Kenyan Creative Entrepreneur who moved to Canada for higher education in the Arts in 2018. She now holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Arts Administration and Cultural Management and is the Community and Project Coordinator at Jamii. Prior to coming to Canada, she ran a creative enterprise that produced handmade event invitations and initiated Tengeza – an art program for deaf children. Zarita is passionate about using the arts as a tool for social integration and improving human wellbeing. She is currently developing a psychosocial support program for children and youth artists in East Africa. Journaling, crafting and fellowship are her timeless ways of being refreshed.  

Production Coordinator

Sharon Zarita  

Teilhard Frost is a folk musician and artist specializing in 'traditional' fiddle tunes and song. He has a keen interest in the music of Appalachia and the roots/routes by which it came. Teilhard is one third of acclaimed high stepping trio Sheesham, Lotus and 'Son. He lives with his family on Wolfe Island in Ontario, where he makes banjos, supper and his bed. 

Professional Artist

Teilhard Frost 

Verna Chong has worked for Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada and the Ontario Superior Court for many years as an interpreter in the Chinese languages of Cantonese, Taisan, and Kaiping. Her interests are fashion, art, travel, old movies, and good food. She loves travelling in Europe which is rich in culture: the people, food, art galleries, museums and great architecture. 

Esplanadian (participant)

Verna Chong 

Wendy Devine is a retired Corporate Accountant with 3 daughters and 6 grown-up grandchildren. She enjoys group singing, traveling, meditating, watching British mystery shows, cooking and decorating. Wendy is interested in history, natural healing and eco-spirituality.

 

Esplanadian (participant)

Wendy Devine