PBS Film Festival: Anagrams, Asthma, and Africa

As of today, I’ve watched ten of the short films in the PBS film festival and the variety is unbelievable. Ars Magna (latin for “great art” and also an anagram for… anagram) follows the life of an anagramist — apparently, they exist — and a short film like Worlds Apart follows the troubles of those seeking identity outside of native culture while remaining true to their roots. The options of identifying with these short films are endless, but there are two submissions that spoke to me.

Brionna Williams addresses the struggles with asthma and a girl who fought to overcome the hindrance of asthma and obesity that was attached to her inactivity. I learned to cope with my asthma at an early age, but by the time middle school rolled around… my lungs went by the wayside. Brionna had a similar issue and the fear of not breathing consumed her when she went to high school. That fear is scarring. She forced herself out of her comfort zone and eventually won an award from ESPN for her achievements in athleticism. Asthma is not really discussed as an illness that affects its victims deeply. Breathing sustains our brain function and keeps us alive, yet there is a neglect in those with asthma because there are medications which can place a temporary bandage on the problem — for some, there is no cure. Brionna is a good example of overcoming asthma and living with the problem rather than letting it consume you. My worst trigger is cold air and I’m living in Southern Ontario if that means anything. Brionna Williams is only five minutes long and says so much about having a positive attitude. The filmmaking is simple which is a testament to its simple message.

The other film was from the Asylum series about Africans identifying as LGBT and removing themselves from their country to seek asylum from the suffocation of their government. Skye sought asylum in the UK and is forbidden from entering her home country, Zimbabwe, for the rest of her life. We hear about LGBT rights and certainly it is a hot button issue in the state of Texas, but can you imagine living in a country like Zimbabwe or Nigeria where freedom’s price is a plane ticket away from your home, family, and friends? The United States is a flawed country, but it is a just country with malleability. Our ability to bend for freedom and democracy shows me how privileged I truly was to be born in my country. The two films in the festival (Asylum: Bisi and Asylum: Skye) come highly recommended from this gal and will probably be receiving my vote in the near future….

…. if I don’t see another film in the next week that catches my eye! Check out the PBS Film Festival until March 22nd. The short films are like Lays potato chips — betcha can’t watch just one. Cast your votes and if you see something you like, let’s discuss.


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