Montreal non-profit collective Yellow Pad Sessions (YPS) is delighted to present Courage, the first instalment of its latest cultural event: OPTIMISTA, an ambitious multidisciplinary art project intended to inspire and encourage during uncertain times through a celebration of the human spirit. Courage is a thought-provoking artistic commentary on the challenges of modern life, and how courage inspires and transports us to better places.

On Saturday, October 15(7 PM) at QUAI 5160 – Maison de la Culture Verdun, the evening will feature a screening of two thought-provoking films (the multiple award-winning documentaries The Black Cop and Writing with Fire), an inspiring word by keynote speaker Gamal ‘G’ Turawa, a moving photo exhibition by Agustina Pedrocca, and a heartfelt dance performance by Diana León. The event will be followed by a cocktail party featuring live DJ sets by the Webbed Feet radio crew with special guest DJ Rafalinio and signature OPTIMISTA cocktails & mocktails.

The evening’s keynote speaker and the protagonist of the BAFTA Award-winning short documentary The Black CopGamal ‘G’ Turawa, will be coming in from London, UK to talk about courage and what it takes to make a difference in our views on resilience, race, equity, and harmony in the world.

The documentary follows the life story of ‘G’ – as he likes to be named  who during his time in the Metropolitan Police admitted to racially profiling and harassing black people in the early days of his 26-year career. The first black MET police officer to come out as openly gay, ‘G’recalls spending his childhood in a small village in Kent in the foster care of a white family before going on to join the MET Police in his early twenties, where he used his position as a “get-out-of-jail free card” from his reality as a black gay man.

The Black Cop and keynote speech will be followed by the screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary, Writing with Fire. From a cluttered news landscape dominated by men emerges India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women (women who are part of India’s lowest caste). Armed with smartphones, chief reporter Meera and her team of journalists break traditions, be it on the frontlines of India’s biggest issues or within the confines of their homes, redefining what it means to be powerful. The debut feature documentary from the directing, writing, and producing team of Rintu Thomas and Sushmit GhoshWriting with Fire won two awards at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival – an Audience Award (World Cinema – Documentary) and a World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award (Impact and Change) – and was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Documentary Feature) in 2022, among many other awards & nominations.

The visual art element of the evening will be the intimate giant photograph series Happy and Beautiful out of Spite, by Agustina Pedrocca. Emulating the work of Nan Goldin, Pedrocca presents a moving series of portraits which document the loves, pleasures, hardships, and heartaches of Montreal’s queer community.

Courage‘s performance piece will be presented by contemporary dancer and choreographer, Diana León, titled On this path, you are sure to get lost. This work is a powerful expression of self-love that breaks with the game of complacency and our integrity as human beings.