An Optimist Conference Is Coming To Montreal For Anyone Who Needs Their Spirits Lifted

The event spans uplifting musical performances, talks and film screenings.

MTL Blog, Staff Writer
​Musicians Bel and Quinn performs at a launch party. Right, A pile of conference flyers.

Musicians Bel and Quinn performs at a launch party. Right, A pile of conference flyers.

@optimistamtl | Instagram, Courtesy of OPTIMISTA.

Verdun is hosting a cinéconference for Montrealers who are still reeling from the isolation and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. OPTIMISTA will span four evenings filled with positivity that use documentary films as a thematic starting point to engage in discussions about courage, love, compassion and community. Each night will spotlight different arts-based projects and musical performances to inspire attendees and lift their spirits.

The first installment of OPTIMISTA on October 15 will focus on courage. Starting at 7 p.m. in the QUAI 5160–Maison de la Culture Verdun, the conference will screen award-winning documentary short The Black Cop about the first Black MET police officer to come out as openly gay. The film's protagonist, Gamal 'G' Turawa, will be present to give a talk on what it takes to make a difference, touching on resilience, race and equity.

Attendees will also watch Oscar-nominated documentary Writing with Fire about India’s only newspaper run by women who are part of the country's lowest caste.

Photo exhibition Happy and Beautiful out of Spite by Agustina Pedrocca will showcase love, hardship and heartache in Montreal's queer community, followed by a dance performance by Diana León and live DJ sets by the Webbed Feet radio crew and special guest DJ Rafalinio.

“Through our moving films, our inspiring keynote speaker, the exhibition, and performance, OPTIMISTA aims to elicit courage, hope, and joy with a place to gather once again," said Grace Sebeh Byrne, the co-founder and executive director of Yellow Pad Sessions, the creative force behind the conference. The local non-profit wants to use art to encourage social change.

Each night of OPTIMISTA, through March 2023, will present different personal journeys about overcoming adversity through performing artists, keynote speakers, live music and an art exhibition.

Tickets cost $40 for general admission for one night ($35 for students) and $150 to attend all four evenings ($130 for students).


When: Oct. 15, 2022 – Courage; Nov. 19, 2022 – Compassion; Feb. 11, 2023 – Love; Mar. 04, 2023 – Community. Doors open at 7 p.m. and events start at 8 p.m.

Where: QUAI 5160 – Maison de la Culture Verdun, 5160, boul LaSalle

Cost: $40 general admission (1 evening), $35 students and 65+ (1 evening), $150 regular season pass (4 evenings), $130 season pass for students and 65+.


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