Some are questioning whether it is merely a publicity stunt to promote his movie, but a filmmaker who charges higher admission prices to white males insists his policy is a sort of “justice-pricing.”
He admits to having used a false name, however to promote his movie because he was scared of a possible backlash that could put his safety at risk. Filmmaker Shiraz Higgins said Wednesday that indeed he has received death threats on an email account he created under the pseudonym Sid Mohammed. He also used the said false name in an interview with The Canadian Press earlier to also promote his movie.
His film “Building the Room”, a 70-minute documentary-style movie, is a behind-the scenes-look at comedians putting on a stand-up show. For its premiere, despite the backlash, Higgins said he and the organizers will stick to their “justice-pricing “ policy where white males will be charged $15, while others will have to only pay $10 based on the purchasing power of individual groups and "price discrimination."
The 27-year-old filmmaker takes pain in underscoring that the price difference for white male viewers is not a publicity stunt, and neither is it about "retribution or putting white men in their place or something like."
Higgins insists that he sees it, along with the organizers, “as an important piece of overall conversation that is happening in society right now.”
The film will premiere on September 28 at the 225-seat Roxy Theater. The theater owned by The Blue Bridge Theater Society said on Wednesday that the venue was rented, and the premiere showing event was entirely organized by the group behind the movie. Tickets would also not be sold through the Blue Bridge box office system, and so the theater owners have no control or say on the ticket prices.
The theater’s general manager, Rebekah Johnson, also emphasized that they were not consulted on the ticket prices policies for the film. She said: “Blue Bridge was not at any time consulted regarding these policies and, had it been, would not have agreed, nor will it ever agree, to policies that are discriminatory towards any person.”
The Blue Bridge Theater Society, owner of the 225-seat Roxy Theater where the premiere is scheduled for Sept. 28, said Wednesday the venue was rented and the event was organized by the group showing the movie.
Tickets would not be sold through the Blue Bridge box office system and neither ticket prices nor policies governing them have been established by the society, general manager Rebekah Johnson said in an email.
Johnson said: "Blue Bridge was not at any time consulted regarding these policies and, had it been, would not have agreed, nor will it ever agree, to policies that are discriminatory towards any person.”
Johnson also said the theater’s board will discuss the issue in their next meeting on September 25. Organizers of the film said while they are likely to stick to their original “justice-pricing” policy, they are also considering “adaptations” to “better reflect the reality of the prices.” They wouldn’t say, however, if they plan to change the prices.
The movie was funded by Telus Optik, which supports local filmmakers with grants.
Higgins said that as a result of the price difference for white male viewers he has been contending with strong and violent reactions, making him worry about his own safety. He also feels “silly”’ for having to come out with a false name. He said: "I've been wanting to have a layer of safety between me and angry citizens in order to keep the tension from being completely locked in on me.”
Higgins added: “I feel bad that it's clearly made some people upset and that it has undermined the overall message that we're sending out here. It's clearly become very heated.”
The premiere may serve as a litmus test if their decision to set a different rate for white male viewers for the justifications they gave will be acceptable to the public or not.