Vanessa

I'm Vanessa, PM TALONS student. I like music and dragons. Did you know there's a word that rhymes with orange? Sporange: a rare alternative form of sporangium, a botany term that means "spore case." (fact taken from mentalfloss.com on Oct. 11 2014)

Time To Say Goodbye

Dear TALONS,

It is officially March 7th, 2017 and I am exactly a week and a day away from hopping on a plane to New Zealand. This past couple of months has been a whirlwind of events and emotions. Throughout the busyness, it was a challenge for me to just pause and reflect on what has happened in the last two years of my life. Given the honorary talons board for my early exit, this board became my golden opportunity to think about what my TALONS means to me.


Words

Writing, sketching, and scribbling down whatever thought would submerge in my head, certain words seemed to flow from my heart into my hands. These words hold great meaning to me and my TALONS journey, for they have been an anchor throughout the storms. In this past couple days, I have been able to reflect on these words, redefine them, and engrave them on my heart for the many more life experiences I have ahead.

Passion, Dreams, Faith, Beauty, Creativity, Moments, Hope, Freedom, Stories, Time, Perspective, Connections, Compassion, Present, Question, Understanding, Curiouser and Curiouser, Inquisitive, Listen, Learn, Growth, Believe, Squidnéessa, Excitement, Plop, Community, Friendship, Family, Priority, La La Land, Human, Stars, Constellation, Film, Expression, Voice, Reconstruct, Perseverance, Gift, Explore, Life, Think, Ponder, Challenge, Magic, Universe, Humility, Interstellar, Kindness, Joy, Alice, Definition, Midnights, Balance, Art, Visualize, Imagination, Butterfly, Camp-Fire, Rest, Cinderella, Adaptation, Discovery, Inspiration, Brainstorms, Purpose, Jesus, Love


Heart

The human heart is something that I have found most interesting. So complex, yet so beautiful in its imperfections, I have found myself drawing the human heart in my journal and thinking about humanity in a much deeper way than I had before. The heart represents 3 things. That 1. in whatever I do, I choose to do it wholeheartedly. I have put so much of myself into TALONS and was given the freedom to be completely myself, and I have you all to thank for that. 2. the heart symbolizes the memories, feelings, and relationships that I hold so dear and close. I have met some of the greatest human beings in this program and I know that the family that we have built together will last a very long time. And 3. TALONS (meaning the people and the experiences) will always have a place in my heart. I have learned so much and have grown into a better and happier person than the Vanessa I was 2 years ago. Learning what friendship means, how to time-manage, how to be present, how to rest and take a break, how to prioritize, and how to not just dream but how to follow it, these life lessons will be something I carry with me forever. But perhaps the most important thing that I have learned is that there is so much more to life than just studying for the next test and worrying about tomorrow. Perfection is impossible and my happiness should always come first. Too long have been I been sacrificing my passions and my health for a number and mark, and TALONS has taught me that it is impossible to do and have it all. It’s okay to ask for help and honestly, the times in the uphill battles helped me realize how blessed I am to have such supportive people around me. I couldn’t have done this on my own, and I want to thank God, my family, my friends, and my teachers for pulling me through. I’ve been able to create a stronger identity for myself, question and redefine what I thought I knew, and have the passion, drive, and tools to continue learning and adventuring in this world because of you all, and I can’t thank you enough.

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Frame

My passion for film and storytelling was discovered during my TALONS experience, so it only felt right to incorporate it into my board. This single frame represents the small frame of time TALONS holds in my life story, but the significance and vibrancy it has. TALONS will always hold a place in my heart and the memories and friendships that we created will last much longer than a single frame in my life long film reel. I am so excited for what comes next! I love you all very much and will treasure the time we spent writing our stories together.

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Love,
Vanessa Lee

The Importance of Reconciliation I The Effects of our Relationship I DOL 1

Origins: Canada’s True Identity

When you think of Canada, what do you think of? I think of bronze medals, ice, forest, and maple syrup. But beyond the stereotypical things we consider Canadian, I see our country as a respectful, safe, free, open, and neutral place. The words diversity, acceptance, connection, and apologies come to mind. But never would I have paired the origins of Canada with the word “cultural genocide”.

Growing up in a public school, I’ve had opportunities to meet some First Nations people and learn a bit about their ways. I’ve always known that the land we stand on was and is theirs, but I’ve never made the connection or filled in the empty history; failing to ask myself the question of how we got from just First Nations people to the diverse country we are today?

Looking at our Canadian identity and what we stand for, I believe we value truth and respect. Although most of me still believe that, reading the Truth & Reconciliation Commission made me realize that there is so much more to Canada than what meets the eye. The “dark side” of our history is something we don’t often talk about. To “fix” what we did or mend this broken relationship, we must first own up to our mistakes, and to do that, we must be open and truthful.

It is so important to not just show our “proud” moments but be open about our shameful moments too. The “dark” part our history is a part our story and stories need to be told. It is important we own up to what we have done and stop hiding from it. If the horrific parts of our history aren’t shared, how can learn and grow from them? How can we move past them? The fact of the matter is we can’t move forward without looking back, which to me, is one of the main reasons why reconciliation is so important.


Questions: The Long-Term Effects of a Broken Relationship

Big Question:

  • Why is reconciliation important?
  • How does our relationship with the First Nations people affect Canada’s identity, progress, and the people?
  • How does our relationship affect our political, economic, and social decisions currently?

Trying to wrap my head around our origins, actions, identity, and how it all connects, the big question of “why is reconciliation important” led me to more specific questions relating to the effects of our relationship with the First Nation peoples.

Starting out grade 9 TALONS with the talk on Columbus and tackling the big idea of how history is written by the winners, the “discovery” of Canada lands in a similar boat. So much happened in the 150 years of Canada, it is not only important to understand what happened and hear both sides, but see why reconciling this lost relationship is so important. It would be easy to just gloss that part of our history over and live in the “safe, respectful, and open” façade of a country we call Canada, but abandoning reconciliation changes our country’s identity as a whole. The truth of the matter is that our relationship with the First Nations people is still affecting us today, and ignoring this is not going to progress us further.

Looking at how something in the past still affects us today, I wanted to explore current issues and see…

  • how our relationship with the First Nations people affect our political, economic, and social decisions, as well as our progress
  • how this relationship affecting us right now as a country and as a people
  • how this affecting the first nations, the immigrants, the Canadians
  • how our relationship affects our Canadian identity and our values

Research: Slowed “Progression” in “our home and native land”

When I think of our country and of the First Nations people, it is interesting how we often see the First Nations community as an obstacle to “progress” our country in an economic way. Because Canada is so rich in natural resources, one of the ways we are “progressing” our country forward is to export these natural resources. Building pipelines and mining the land is one of the many ways we extract and export. A few particular projects, such as the Kinder Morgan Pipeline and Northern Gateway Pipeline, created a lot of controversy and concern.

On the one hand, creating a pipeline will strengthen our economy, but on the other hand, it has the possibility of destroying the very land we are on. Besides the environmentalists, the First Nations people, who have a very strong relationship with nature, have made claims on lands and have “slowed progression” of some of these projects.
An example of this is found in CBC news, where a “Former First Nations chief stakes claim on B.C. mining minister’s property.” Bev Sellars, the former chief of the Xat’sull First Nation at Soda Creek, made a claim to raise awareness about placer miners. Upset that it was so easy to be certified as a free miner, she wrote “I didn’t have to contact the people of the private property …  I didn’t have to prove that I had any awareness about the environment or the impacts of the industry. I didn’t have to know about the right of the local First Nations people.”

A reason why Bev Sellars is feeling so passionately about raising awareness is because back in 2014, “the Xat’sull First Nation was one of the communities affected by the breach of the tailings pond at the Mount Polley mine.”

David Haslam, the Energy and Mines Ministry spokesperson said that a placer mineral claim is “only for the purpose of conducting exploration activity” and is subject to a number of legal conditions and restrictions. “These restrictions make it extremely unlikely that any of the surface of this placer claim would actually be available for the recorded holder to conduct any form of exploration activity”, said Haslam.

Although this may be true, this doesn’t solve the issue that 1. Many people are unaware of placer mines and the destruction it can cause 2. That the people making the decisions are not listening or taking into full consideration the possible destruction it could cause, and 3. Canada’s relationship with the First Nations people has not progressed to a point where we are both understand each other. In the last part of the article, it states that “Haslam said the province is committed to collaborating with First Nations and works closely with the First Nations Energy and Mining Council so that First Nations’ perspectives on mining can be better understood.” Yes, this is great news, but it just shows us how far we have to go for, in the year 2017, we still don’t have a great understanding between the two groups.

Another rising issue is the construction of the pipelines in Canada. The Northern Gateway pipeline has had a lot of controversy. In a recent article, titled “B.C. government failed to properly consult First Nations on Northern Gateway pipeline, court rules”, it talks about how the First Nations argued how the “province wasn’t living up to its duty to consult with them.” Although there are a lot more details to this current issue, I chose to talk about it for it shows, yet again, how our relationship plays such an important role in progressing our country forward.

If we had a better relationship, then greater understanding can take place. The First Nations would greater understand the politics and economic issues and the Canadian government would greater understand the environmental concerns. We would be working together, instead of trying to find faults in each other.


Conclusion: Can’t Move Forward without Looking Back

Through my research, I have realized how far we have come and how far we still have to go in reconciling and restoring this broken relationship. Only researching two to three current environmental issues, I know I have only touched the surface on what I wanted to know. I still want to answer the big question of “why reconciliation is important” and tackling the question of “how does our relationship with the First Nations people affect Canada’s identity, progress, and the people?” and “how does our relationship affect our political, economic, and social decisions currently?” I am curious to know more about the conflicts we have and seeing if we, as a nation, are actually listening to each other?

I also want to know if reconciliation is possible. With different values, can we come together as one nation? Can we build a relationship based on respect, trust, and truth when so much destruction and hurt has occurred? I am not sure if reconciliation is truly possible but I believe that we can progress to a point where we understand each other, listen to each other, and make decisions together.

I chose to research about current events to show that our relationship with the First Nations people is still relevant and affecting us in the now, which leads me back to the main question of “why is reconciliation important?” To answer a part of that question, it is important because our relationship is causing setbacks and slowing down our “progress”. How can we truly move forward without looking back? I hope to find a greater understanding by digging deeper into these questions, finding personal relevance and meaning in the truth.

Book Review I All the Light We Cannot See

Image and video hosting by TinyPicShowing the meaning of something always makes it more significant and showing the significance of something always makes it more meaningful.


* Spoiler Section *

Style

The book is definitely a subtler book in terms of the characters stating their emotions. Doerr has a really unique way of describing their situations, surroundings, and thoughts without explicitly saying anything. As I read farther into the story and heard the multiple narrations, I had a greater appreciation for Doerr’s patience in revealing and shaping the characters through “ordinary” events. Everything written had a purpose and showed great significance at the end.

Characters

One thing I love about this story is that characters are raw and imperfect. They do not always do what is right and do not always face their battles with bravery. He shows us the human heart that grows and develops overtime; one that warps and pulses with doubt and hope.

Werner’s character grew an immense amount. He in a way came full circle, and even though I am not super happy that he died (although I know it is realistic), I love the way his story came to a close. After many years of silent confliction and doubt, he finally followed his conscious. His story and character was so real, relatable, and moving. His thoughts spoke volumes on the conflicts and battles he had with himself and the world. I also loved how Jutta, Werner’s sister, carried on his story after he passed.

Marie-Laure’s story was so beautiful and painful at the same time. Her love and longing for her father, uncle, and Madame Manec, was heartbreaking, but revealed her strength and courage. Despite being literally blind, Marie-Laure saw light and beauty in the world. An “ordinary” French girl, her story will ring for ages.

Memorable Scenes

There are so many details and quotes from the beginning of the book that are later revealed significant at the end. One of my favourite scenes from the book is when Marie-Laure and Werner finally met. This is the part when Werner had just saved her and commented on how brave she was (pg. 469).

She responded by saying this: “When I lost my sight, Werner, people said that I was brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?”

Werner responded by saying “Not in years. But today. Today maybe I did.”

This was one of my favourite scenes, for the two characters did not only meet, but the few words said out loud was a huge reflection on the character’s journey. A large majority of the book was narrated in the character’s head so it was nice to finally “hear” their thoughts shared out loud.

Final Thoughts

Even though I do love love-stories and enjoy some romance, I think that the book had so many forms of love in it. The father-daughter relationship and the brother-sister relationship was something so beautiful and real throughout the book. I loved the mystery of the Sea of Flames and how slow building the plot was. Those few days in August 1944 were full of anticipation and longing. So many years of searching, of pain, of emotion led up to that moment, and although that moment lasted only a short while, it was beautiful and somewhat satisfying.

Even though I don’t fully understand the ending (of what really happened to Werner, to the Sea of Flames, and to Daniel Leblanc), I also love the wonder and mystery in that.

Overall, I think that the book is a masterpiece of a story. Although I did not find myself deeply engrossed or emotionally attached, I would read it again in a heartbeat and will remember it forever.

 

Love,

Vanessa

Closing Credits I Biblography I Eminent 2016

Learning about Mademoiselle Alice was invigorating, exciting, and exhilarating. I just can’t get enough of her. Every new website and source uncovered a part of who she was and of the legacy she has built. I can never look at cinema and history the same way after reading about her amazing and fulfilling life. Although most of my eminent process was spent researching, reflecting, and fan-girling about Alice Guy-Blaché, I have to say that no amount of information was enough for me. It is my wish and desire to share her story.

My journey truly started when i first watched the trailer for the new documentary on Alice. It is called “Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché”. It has been a long and hard journey for Pamela B. Green (the director and producer of the documentary) and her team to complete this documentary. Working on this independent project on the side, it has been very difficult to share Alice’s story for her films and stories have been lost. To help the Be Natural team share the special documentary on Alice, you can donate using paypal. The funds collected will go towards completing the film; helping them move onto the next phase of licensing stock footage, stills, audio, articles, and books! Let’s all help Pamela B. Green and her team fulfill their dream and vision to share this eminent and notable person’s life!

Below is a list of sites I used in my research process. Each containing slightly different information about Alice, I am so excited to share with you my sources!

Sincerely,

Vanessa


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Wikipedia is always a great place to find hard facts about a person. It provided an excellent overview of her life and accomplishments, going into great detail about certain experiences. This was definitely one of my go to places when I was looking for random pieces of information or trying to get a feel of who Alice was and what she did. Wikipedia is a great source but I would recommend using other sources as well.

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This website was very informative and useful. Talking about Alice’s film career, it went into great detail and even listed her filmography. Plotting her two decade long in a clear and descriptive timeline also helped me get a feel of what she did in her career. Although I did not use this site an immense amount for I already knew most of the information from other sites, this website would have been super useful to start with and use overall.

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Summarizing Alice’s life in a really brief and easy to understand article, this site is good if you are looking for a short and sweet overview of her life, but is not useful if  you are looking for details, description, and an explanation. One can go without using this site, but like the many others, it is a great starting place.

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This article was written by a producer/writer. Adding personal opinions and emphasis on certain aspects about Alice that I did not catch from other articles (like how Alice was “the French film pioneer who invented the director’s job”), it was interesting reading about Alice through the perspective of someone else. Showing a more personal side to Alice, this article helped me see her in a more close and relatable light. Not just stating facts about her life but adding emphasis on the other parts about her life that made her who she was gave me insight. Relating Alice to current times now, it is definitely an interesting and inspirational read.

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A super detailed timeline of Alice’s life, this source provided me with a lot of great information. Starting from her birth, covering her film and personal life, and the years leading up to her death, this Chronology is accurate and very thorough. Written by the author who wrote the Alice Guy Blaché: Lost Visionary of the Cinema, this source was super helpful. A definite 5/5 stars on information.

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Including many photos and a couple of Alice’s films in the writer’s blog post, this site really dove deep into Alice’s film style and her stance as a director/creator of stories. It gave perspective and emphasized the importance of Alice’s works. This site is useful if you want to know about the type of films she made and of the significance of her films. Overall, it is a really different and interesting source.

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Talking about the Be Natural documentary project as well as Alice’s life, this site really hit the essence of who Alice was and covered a lot of her achievements and parts of her life in a short period of time (in the video). Showing the trailer of the documentary, as well as a video of why they are making it, this site was one that gave me a lot of inspiration. Their passion to share Alice’s story fuelled mine and always left me super excited to share her story. This site also includes amazing pictures of Alice and her films.

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Summarizing Alice’s achievements and works, this site provides really cool pictures of Alice’s films. Also writing about the types of films she made and of her film advancements, this source does not go into very much detail although the pictures shown are worth looking at!

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Talking about the changes in film, it was helpful reading this article for it showed the development and transformations of cinema over time. Using this source to gain information about the first ever film (“Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory”), I used it to help me write my speech. Although the source does not give much information about Alice, it can help you gain a greater understanding of the changes in film.

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Focusing on Alice’s distinct film techniques and achievements, this source is good for giving you a wide scope of her life but is not super detailed. The information provided is similar to the others I have found. The only difference is the comparison of her films to the ones made now and the ones made at that time, helping readers see the importance of her discoveries.

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A super interesting and informative documentary, this source provided me with first hand information on Alice; including real footage of interviews of Alice in the documentary. The video not only told me about her film achievements, but also dove into specifics and talked about Alice as a person and of her struggles. I would rate this sources a 5/5 stars!

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Watching Alice’s films is not only super cool and interesting, but it is a privilege. Her few films that are found made its way to YouTube. Watching her films gave me great insight on Alice, challenging audiences to see the world the way she saw it.

Moments I Night of the Notables 2016 I Reflection Post

Dear readers,

Eminent is finally over and I am relieved, sad, ecstatic, and mournful that it is. Everyone keeps on saying how bittersweet this is; how Eminent marks the beginning of the end of TALONS. I guess that is true, but it hasn’t hit me until now that over a year has gone by and how little time we have left together. Although eminent has caused many tears and moments of stress, it has also given me excitement, joy, and inspiration. Digging deep into Alice’s life has fuelled my passion for film even more and I am so excited for the future!

“Life is made up moments.” – Vanessa Lee, Alice Guy-Blaché Monologue

Life is made up of moments. There are moments that we choose to forget and moments that stick with us forever. I can choose to dwell on the 4 seconds on stage where I forgot my speech, the moments of stress, the moments of feeling like my speech was not good enough OR I can choose to remember the moments that warmed my heart; the moments that made this whole experience worth it.

Highlights of my journey are reflected in these moments: 

  • Finding Alice Guy-Blaché ~ A lost visionary, her works and legacy is truly mind boggling and inspirational. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about her life and seeing the impact she has made. Alice was such an amazing, notable, eminent, and beautiful person and I am so fortunate to have heard about her.
  • Receiving a response to my interview email ~ I am so blessed to have had not one, but TWO successful interviews for eminent. Pamela B. Green and Alex Benedon’s perspective and insight on Alice Guy Blaché sparked life back into my project and helped me see Alice in a more personal light. I will forever be grateful to both Pamela B. Green and Alex Benedon for taking the time to answer my questions, as well as sharing Alice’s story.
  • Assembling my learning centre with the help of my sister ~ It was actually a lot of fun painting the different signs of my learning centre. I wouldn’t have been able to complete it without the help of my talented sister, Theresa! Having her company, support, and much needed help made this part of eminent so memorable and fun.
  • Costume shopping ~ With the help of Theresa (again), we managed to find an old shirt and a long black skirt that resembled the one Alice Guy wore in 1895. Shopping on Monday at Value Village, the entire outfit cost only about 5$ due to the 50% off sale that day! How amazing is that?!
  • Spending 14 hours in school ~ November 16th, 2016 was the day we were all waiting for. Arriving at school at 8:30am and leaving at 10:30pm, the day was both super fun and tiring, energetic and positive. The whole day was exciting and was full of many memorable moments…

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~ Moments before going on stage; everyone supporting and reassuring one another ~

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~ Alice Guy (me), Sandra Oh (Mimi Kim), & Misty Copeland (Kaleigh Toering) “chilling” backstage ~

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~ Moments before bowing; feelings of pride, joy, and relief flooding through ~

“Nights like this is what makes TALONS feel like TALONS.” – Vanessa Lee, 16/11/2016

It is in these moments of stress, of victory, of anticipation that TALONS really feels like a family. I am again reminded of the amazing support we have as a class and of the amazing people in it. Even though I struggled at times, I always had people there to encourage and embrace me. I am so blessed to have such amazing, kind, passionate, hardworking, and caring people in my life.

A huge thank you to…

  • My lovely family at home! Thank you for coming and supporting me! Thank you Theresa for saving my life and helping me make my learning centre two days before the night! You da best! To Ursula, thank you for spending your one day off helping me construct my learning centre after school! Love you! And finally, to Mom, Dad, and Wescott, thank you for giving me a huge hug after my speech and for making me feel so loved! Love you all!
  • TALONS FAM! I am so proud of each and every person for surviving yet another Night of the Notables! Your support, encouragement, and joy really got me through. You all have made this experience so memorable. I will cherish our times together forever!
  • The people backstage in Act 1 for encouraging me before and after my speech. Even though I was really disappointed in myself for forgetting a part of my speech, your support and hugs comforted me so much! To Renée, Aileen, Kaleigh, Maeve, and Mimi, thank you all for reminding me that I am so much more than just a 2 minutes speech.
  • The people who came to my learning centre! You all are so sweet, supportive, and creative! Thank you for sharing your favourite films with me and for listening to my (Alice’s) story! It was a blast talking to you all! I would have stayed all night!
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~ Theresa Lee, “Alice Guy”, Ursula Lee ~

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~ My bro Wescott & I ~

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~ Pops & I ~

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~ Mommy & Me ~

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~ That moment when you are trying to convince Mr. Cober that you are ALICE and not Vanessa ~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eminent was full of emotions, highlights, and moments worth cherishing. Thank you again to everyone for making this Night of the Notables so memorable. It was the people that made it so special and the support and love I felt that made this eminent an experience I would re-live again. Finally, to Alice Guy-Blaché, thank you for teaching me to pursue my dreams, to just go for it and try things, to explore my passions, and to never give up. I believe that your story will continue to shine and inspire others.

Love,

Vanessa

P.S. Captured moments/documents from Night of the Notables 2016 is listed below! Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 


Moments in Time

Notes

Here is a document of my research, my ideas, and my multiple drafts of speeches.

Learning Centre

I am really proud of how my learning centre turned out. Keeping it simple but elaborate, I added parts of her life story and added it to a film reel. Here are some pictures from the night of:

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~ Overall view of Learning Centre ~

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~ Old advertisement for cinema ~

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~ Alice put up a Be Natural sign all around her film studio ~

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~ The Cinématographe ~

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~ Snapshots of Alice’s life put into a film reel ~

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~ Favourite films of the people who visited my learning centre… What is your favourite film? ~

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~ As a lover of film, I asked people WHY they watch movies ~

Speech

Progress I Document of Learning I Eminent

~ One Day More ~

After re-writing, re-editing, and revising my speech over and over again, I finally made it into final copy stage (I think). Here is a copy of my speech:


Alice Guy Blaché

Alice saw life, potential, and the future of cinema

Seconds. 46 seconds of pride and joy; of ambition and blissful discovery; 46 seconds that forever changed the life of cinema.

It is 1895 and I am at the surprise Lumiere event in Paris, France with my boss, Gaumont. The inventors are showing off their new machine that can project moving photographs. Excited and energetic, the room full of inventors and writers anxiously wait for the show to begin.

Finally, the machine projects the title and the crowd goes still.

Moving pictures go by. Flickers of black and white images of workers leaving the Lumière Factory fill the screen and entrance the audience in a silent awe. As the machine devours the images plastered on the film reel, i watch the crowd stare; mesmerized by this new discovery. But as wonderful as this new technological advancement is, I can’t help but think that something better can be done; that this art of capturing moments in time can be so much more than documenting factory workers.

15 seconds in and my mind takes me back to a colourful childhood memory. I am in my father’s bookstore in Chile and am surrounded with stories. Stories about love and heartbreak. Stories that had tigers, and doctors, and blown up ships. Stories that breathed life into the very pages of the books.

30 seconds into the screening and the stories from my childhood blur into the projected film. As the photos continue to flicker past, something starts to stir within me. Passion; ambition; an idea that film can tell stories.

Then the 46 seconds is up and the room roars in applause; praising the two french brothers who created something that made its mark in history in a span of just 46 seconds. As Gaumont and I exit the screening, excited about the new invention, i can’t help but think of the future film can have.

Seconds. These 46 seconds of pride and joy; of ambition and blissful discovery; these 46 seconds forever changed my life.


I am both excited and anxious for Night of the Notables.

Things to do:

  • Complete Learning Centre
    • Advertisement Board
    • Figure out activity (Film Reel)
  • Practice and memorize Speech
  • Bring materials, costume, and learning centre on day of
  • Breathe
  • Sleep

I would want to give a special shout out to my sister, Theresa Lee! Thank you for kicking my butt to get to work and for being with me in this very stressful time. Thank you for your sharp eye and creative skills that have saved me in projects like this one. Love you!

Love,

Vanessa

Interviewing Pamela B. Green & Alex Benedon I Eminent

~ A true highlight of my Eminent journey so far ~

Planning Stage

When I was in the very beginning stages of Eminent, I stumbled upon a trailer to a documentary called Be Natural: The untold story of Alice Guy-Blaché. Watching the trailer of why they are making a documentary and seeing the trailer for the actual documentary  left me feeling so excited to find out more about Alice Guy’s life. Seeing how passionate the director of the documentary was made me feel passion and excitement to share Alice’s life story too. This discovery of the Be Natural project led me to not only pick Alice Guy Blaché as my eminent person but led me to the kind and thoughtful Pamela B. Green.

Contact

Already knowing that I wanted to interview a person who not only knows a lot about my eminent person but is someone who is passionate about her as well, i knew that i wanted to interview Pamela B. Green. She is the director and producer of the Be Natural: The untold story of Alice Guy-Blaché documentary and is co-founder, producer, and creative director at PIC Agency. So with a destination in mind, i needed a way to contact her. I searched for her contact information on Google for a while but ended up sending an inquiry email to the Be Natural website.

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Response

Not expecting to get a reply so soon or one at all, i was elated when i saw this in my gmail inbox.

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I was beyond the roof excited and happy to hear back from Pamela! After doing my little celebratory dance and shriek, i responded back with questions.

Messages

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After a series of messages, from both Pamela B. Green and her friend, Alex Benedon, I got the answers to the questions.


How does your experience as being a woman in film relate to Alice’s experience?

I relate to her personally. She had a lot of guts, and being gutsy is not always very popular.  When women are in control, sometimes people have issues with that. I like to be in control because I’m a perfectionist and I like to do a good job. I think that’s what Alice was like. She wanted to be a perfectionist. She wanted everything from the sets to the actors to the action to be perfect. I relate to the fact that she was an entrepreneur. I have a company that’s been in business for 9+ years. I went out there and did it. Taking a risk is something I relate to.

In your opinion, how has Alice impacted and changed the film industry?

Aside from creating one of the first ever fiction films (La Fée Aux Choux, 1896), Alice was one of the pioneers of what we consider the modern studio system, which had its beginnings when she was head of production at Gaumont. She worked with movie stars like Bessie Love and Olga Petrova, and helped start the career of Lois Weber, regarded as the first female American director. She was among the first to use techniques like close ups, hand-tinted color, and synchronized sound—long before the release of The Jazz Singer.

In your opinion, how will Alice impact and inspire future film makers?

I didn’t go to film school, but I don’t have to go to film school to know about Alice. She should already be in today’s conversations as the first female director, just like people know about Edison and the Lumieres. It should be an automatic thing for her to be part of history. I think she can inspire a lot of young women and a lot of young men. You need that, not just in film. You need examples of people who just go out there and do it.

What do you find most notable or inspirational about Alice?

Alice Guy-Blaché is certainly the most famous woman the world has never heard of. Her life story is endlessly fascinating. It is the story of a film director who made her first picture back in 1896 when she was just 23.

Not only was Alice the first female filmmaker, she was one of the world’s first directors. Alice wrote, directed, or produced over a 1000 films, from the earliest of a few minutes long to full features. (Among these are some 150 synchronized sound films – phonoscènes – made between 1902 and 1907.)

She made comedies, dramas, and even Westerns, many exploring themes of race, sexism, politics, and social inequality. She was the Head of Production for Paris’ Gaumont Studios (1897-1907) at a time when French women could not vote and went on to found and run her own studio, Solax, in 1910 in the U.S. where she had a second decade-long career.

Alice was not only part of the first class of Silicon Valley 1895 Paris, she was an artist and entrepreneur and was experimenting in sound films.

Alice as a role model has been absent from cinema for too long. This is a story about a woman who saw the future through the camera lens and became a true film pioneer.


Their willingness to help and thoughtful responses really encouraged me and helped me with Eminent! Their perspective and insight on Alice Guy Blaché sparked life back into my project and helped me see Alice in a more personal light. I will forever for grateful to both Pamela B. Green and Alex Benedon for taking the time to answer my questions, as well as taking time out of their lives to share Alice’s story.

As mentioned in the Be Natural Website, the project is completely donation-based, meaning that completing this documentary has been difficult due to the lack of funds. If you are passionate about Alice’s story or have zero idea about who she is, check out the Be Natural website to find out more and donate!

Lastly, to Pamela B. Green and Alex Benedon, if you are reading this, thank you so much again for taking the time to reply back to me. Your passion and insight is truly inspirational. Thank you for being so kind, thoughtful, and considerate! You are both such amazing people and I wish you both all the best!

 

Sincerely,

Vanessa

P.S. After i sent out my first email to Pamela B. Green, I went on Facebook and saw this:
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Dear Henri I Love, Etienne I All the Light We Cannot See

July, 1942

Dear Henri,

Madame is dead. Madame is dead. Madame. Dead.

She died as a frog slowly immersed in water. The frost and fire took her away swiftly; its ambition skillfully crept towards her and drowned her in bed.

She is gone. Just like you and your Daniel, she has left me too…

A couple of months ago, conversations seized to a halt between us. The air had turned frigid. Out the door she left in the bright parts of the day and returned home when night fell. I put our words on replay and still I don’t know if I did the right thing.

Was it selfish of me to not let her dangerously bold friends meet in our house? Talks of secret codes and bread and resistance whisper out into the whole of Saint-Malo and the wind from the sea does not hush their rumors. Surely, a German will hear. Surely, people will use their eyes and mouths and selfish hearts to extinguish the flame of others to add fire to theirs. Surely, they will come for us. 

But even then, I cannot shake off this turmoil inside me, the croaking of her voice. A heart for France but a love for our family, how do I protect both? How can I risk so much for a couple numbers? Yes, I know it is not just numbers but a risk is a risk. The outside is a risk. Talking is a risk. Breathing is now a risk.

But here I am, writing to you, pondering on the choices Madame made before she turned cold and took the plunge into deep water. Was it selfish of me to turn my back on France? Am I caving in to the Führer? Was it wrong for me deny tides, maps, and radios?

Questions. Decisions. Confliction. The war outside is a replica of the one stirring havoc and spurting crimson and releasing gunfire inside me. It is quiet but ever constant; looming over like the dark clouds on winters day.

Can I ignore this war any longer? The loss of heat, of food, of comfort, of Madame: is it enough to risk Marie-Laure and I’s life?

I see parts of you in your granddaughter. The resilience in Marie-Laure resemble the hope in you, causing me to question every decision I make. Do I risk her present or her future? She is almost fourteen years old, a blossoming age. I want fourteen to be young and to be a mere chip of her life, but as you know, not even sheer will can guarantee more time.

I understand that I cannot buy her a future, but shouldn’t I at least try? Madame said to try. But isn’t that what I am doing?

Please write back Henri and tell me what to do.

Alive before you die. Alive before I die. 

Like the rest of my messages, I will ablaze the inked sheet to keep us warm. It will burn and  flicker with light; the words in the form of ash and smoke will soon reach you… wherever you may be.

 

Love, your brother,

Etienne 


This is a letter written from Uncle Etienne to his dead brother, Henri, after the death of Madame Manec. He writes with fervent emotions and thick confliction, struggling to make the decision to help the resistance or put his and Marie-Laure’s safety first. He struggles with deciding what is “right”.

How can he risk Marie-Laure’s safety but at the same time, turn his back on his people?

I wrote this because I feel as if there is a war raging inside each and every person. From the perfumer, to Werner, to Marie-Laure, to the late Madame Manec, to Volkheimer, and even “mad” Etienne, all have internal battles. In situations when food is scarce, safety is no longer a luxury, and when survival may include turning your back on your people, how do you balance taking care of yourself and others? How do you choose what is morally right and what you can “ignore” or “forget”?

All the Light We Cannot See subtlety shows us the internal conflicts and doubts each person has with themselves through their actions. Doerr has a gift in communicating an ocean with only a wave of words; almost like how people can communicate through letters and through secret messages without writing more than a page.

It was definitely a challenge to write this letter and to put myself in Etienne’s shoes, but I am glad that I did. This new found insight I discovered through rereading and reanalyzing sections of the book helped me dig deep into the mysterious character of Etienne and of the hard decisions one has to make during times of war.

I hope you enjoyed reading Etienne’s letter to Henri for I certainly enjoyed writing it! Currently on part 8 of the book, I am nearing the end! AHH so excited!

 

Love,

Vanessa

First Impression I All The Light We Cannot See

Image and video hosting by TinyPicBOOK CLUB! It has been just over a week since I have started reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Along with my amazing book club mates (Sydney, Renee, Kaleigh, and Rachael), we have created four mini assignments to reflect on the book and our experience.

For our first book club assignment, we decided to write about our first impressions of the book. I will be talking about my initial impression, the structure of the book and its purpose, Doerr’s writing style, and the two characters.

Initial Impression

My initial impression of the book was that it was “good” but the pace and writing style took me a while to get used to. I had heard so many amazing things about All the Light but I just couldn’t get myself to sit down and seriously read without zoning out.

Structure & Purpose

The book switches between the two narrators Marie Laure LeBlanc and Werner Pfenning. I usually enjoy reading books that are narrated from a single point of view because I am the kind of person who likes to know everything, but the more I read this book, the more I enjoy the mystery.

I love historical fiction but reading about war is something that can be very graphic and dark; but the book portrays it in the eyes of two teenagers who are on opposite sides of the war (Germany and France.) I love the fact that the chapters are a page or two long and I also love how the book switches between 1944 and the years leading up to it. Marie Laure and Werner are two very different characters who went through very different experiences and I am so excited to see how their stories intertwine. I am honestly just waiting for the two of them to meet each other but I am slowly appreciating the fact that the author developed the characters individually first. When my group and I were discussing our initial thoughts on the book, Renée said something really profound. A couple of us were saying how nothing is really happening in the beginning of the and how it is a bit slow paced. Then Renée said how she enjoys how the story builds up and said that the back story is significant to the shaping of the characters. Anthony Doerr so purposefully structured the book to reveal bits and pieces about the characters and the significance of each event. He shows what a normal life looked like for the two characters before the war and during. I really appreciate Doerr’s thoughtfulness in writing the book and how each scene has a purpose.

Writing Style

I also love the writing style of the book. It is so artistic and beautifully written! I have just read up to part four of the book and I am really enjoying it! Doerr creates the perfect balance of description and action. His writing style is so eloquent and each sentence is jam packed with visuals and emotions. Instead of just saying “a branch”, he describes it as a crooked hand coming out of the ground from the underworld. I usually find it difficult to read super descriptive books for I am the kind of person who just wants to get to the action parts, but in All the Light, it not boring description. He describes things depending on the character; for example, his description for blind Marie Laure is different from Werner. His writing is lyrical and its detail creates stunning visuals in my head.

Characters

Marie Laure and Werner are both so lovable. Marie Laure has a curiosity and resilience to her. I love her relationship with her dad and great uncle, and the way she sees the world is so eye-opening. There is an innocence to her and courage in her story. Werner is a character that changes very early on in the book. He starts as this curious and sensitive boy. His relationship with his sister, Jutta, shows his caring heart and the responsibility he had as a child. His fears of the mines and of the resentment of the life he has as an orphan hardens him over time. He begins to ignore his moral compass and just wants to fit in. His character has a lot of depth and has many layers. He is very human and the fact that he is not perfect makes him more relatable. There is so much to each character shown through each scene in the book. Their stories are both so different, yet they both resemble a certain beauty and ugliness to human nature.


I am so excited to continue reading this book. Anthony Doerr’s writing is magnificent; the plot is amazing; and the characters are so beautifully woven into the story. So excited to read more!

Till next time,

Vanessa

Introducing Alice Guy-Blaché

Dear readers,

I am so excited to introduce my eminent person. She is someone who not only inspires me but is someone that I can relate to. Playing such an important role in my area of interest, it still amazes me how big of an impact she has made and how little she is known. I am honoured to be the first TALONS to give her the spotlight, recognition, and voice that she deserves on the Gleneagle Stage. Her name is Alice Guy-Blaché and I am so passionate, excited, and proud to share her story!

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The Journey

Being super passionate about film, I really wanted to pick a strong female film director. Like many industries, the film industry is one that has very few females and is dominated by mostly men. Dreaming of becoming a film director, I started with Kathryn Bigelow; the director of The Hurt Locker who was the first female to win Best Director at the Oscars. Kathryn was my starting point that eventually led me to Alice Guy-Blaché. When I was researching Kathryn, she was cool and all but I couldn’t personally relate to her experiences and who she was. Yes, being the first female to win Best Director is a big deal, but I wanted something more than just hitting a milestone or receiving an award. I wanted to be inspired and to have my experiences and values aligned. I wanted to pick someone who could teach me about myself. So I kept looking.

I looked and looked till I found Alice. Alice Guy-Blaché came out of nowhere for me. Never ever having heard her name or a single reference, I had no clue who she was. After looking at all the things she accomplished in her life, it struck me as crazy that I have never heard of her till now.

Who is Alice Guy-Blaché?

Alice Guy-Blaché was born July 1, 1873 and died March 24, 1968. She is French and is the fifth child in her family (like me!). She lived in a time before women had the legal right to vote and when corsets were still a thing and she still was able to be a film maker, director, screenwriter, producer, and actress. But she was so much more than that.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicShe was the first female pioneer in French cinema. She is the first female director and the one of the first people to create narrative fiction films! She experimented with sound, color tinting, special effects, and interracial casts and created over a thousand films. She is one of the first women to build and run a movie studio and the first to use synchronized sound. She was a mother of two and created her first film at the young age of 23!

Yet still so many people don’t know who she is.

Inspiration

Seeing the potential in cinema and creating STORIES with it is something that drew me to film and that drew me to her. I love movies for they tell stories in a visual, creative, and expressive way. Alice saw the what film could do and pursued her dreams and visions. The idea that film could tell stories is such an important discovery and idea. Her discovery is the very reason why I am interested in film! It is crazy to think that my interests not only are aligned with hers but is traced back to the very foundation that she laid a hundred years ago.

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One of her motto’s on set was to BE NATURAL! She encouraged her actors to use more natural gestures in a time when extreme gesturing was the norm. She wanted her stories to feel real and to speak truth and that is something I would want to do too!

Legacy

“The most famous woman you’ve never heard of.” – ARTFORUM.

It still blows my mind that I have never heard of Alice Guy-Blaché and that people haven’t heard of Alice. For decades, most of her films were lost and she was lost! Her films and stories are slowly getting found and a documentary is being made called Be Natural.

Even though we are from different racial groups and live in very different time eras, being a female director in the film industry is just as hard, or if not harder, back then and she still was able to succeed in creating what she wanted to create. She is an artist who sees potential in film and I am very much the same. I want to tell truth and stories through this art and she did exactly that. Seeing her inspires me to chase my dreams! She has reminded WHY I love movies in the first place and has helped me see importance in it again. I would hope to learn as much as I can about Alice and learn about myself through this process as well. Pursuing personal passions was part of my IEP this year and learning about the first female director in film certainly fits my passions and interests.

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Goal

My hope for eminent this year is to bring Alice Guy-Blaché to life. I would want my learning center to be a lot more elaborate than last year. I would want people to feel like they have stepped into the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. I would want them to see her work space and parts of her story incorporated in it. I would want them to see the evolution of film and the importance of it. This is a very big goal but I really want to share as much of Alice as I can.

For my speech, I would want it to leave an impact. I would want people to know the gist of who she is and the importance of who she is. Dressing like her would be interesting for finding a corset would be pretty hard but I can figure that out when the time comes. I would want to be as passionate and prepared about my speech as I was for last year. I really want to leave people curious and wanting more of Alice.

I would also love to be as successful as last year in having an interview. I would want to interview someone who knows a lot about her and someone who has a connection with her!

I am so EXCITED and so ready to share Alice’s story! I am so looking forward to dive right into research and to find out more about who she is! Stay tuned for more updates about Alice Guy-Blaché and my journey in finding, knowing, and sharing who she is!

Love,

Vanessa