B.C. filmmaker uses false name to promote policy charging more to white males

By The Canadian Press
September 20, 2017 - 5:17pm

VICTORIA — A man behind a “justice-pricing” policy based on charging higher admission to white males attending the screening of his movie says he used a false name to promote it because he was concerned about a backlash that could risk his safety.

Shiraz Higgins said Wednesday he has received death threats at an email account he created with the false name Sid Mohammed and admitted he used the pseudonym in an interview with The Canadian Press a day earlier.

“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,” he said, adding he feels “silly” for using a false name.

“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,” said Higgins, who is also the director of “Building the Room.”

“It’s clearly become very heated,” he said of the response, adding the policy was not about “retribution or putting white men in their place or something like.”

However, Higgins, 27, said organizers of the premiere are sticking to their justice-pricing model to charge white males $15, while others pay $10 based on the purchasing power of individual groups and “price discrimination.”

The 70-minute documentary-style movie is a behind-the-scenes look at comedians putting on a stand-up show, he said.

“This is not a publicity stunt,” he said, adding organizers are “pushing forward because we believe it is an important piece of overall conversation that is happening in society right now.”

Higgins said while there has been criticism, he has also heard from women who said they pay more than men for goods and services, including hair cuts and hygienic and cosmetic products.

Organizers are considering “adaptations” to better reflect the reality of prices, but couldn’t say if they would be changed, he said.

The Blue Bridge Theatre Society, owner of the 225-seat Roxy Theatre 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.

“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 said.

She said Blue Bridge will review the issue at its next board meeting on Sept. 25.

“While we deny any responsibility for the polices by the organizers of event, we are deeply regretful for any offence the polices may cause,” the statement said. 

Profits from the door will be donated to the Native Friendship Centre of Victoria and the Victoria Pride Society, Higgins said.

He said the movie was funded by Telus Optik, which supports local filmmakers with grants.

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