A documentary on a controversial Vernon art project has garnered an honourable mention at the Making a Difference Awards.
The 2022 Behind the Mask mural project generated plenty of discussion in Vernon when it was first proposed, with some calling them “scary.”
But the documentary on the project received kudos in the Making a Difference category at the Commffest Global Community Film and Arts Festival 2023 in Toronto.
The awards recognize filmmakers whose work serves as a catalyst for social good and community enrichment.
Behind the Mask delved into the personal narratives of 10 individuals in Vernon, offering a poignant exploration into their unseen vulnerabilities. Against the backdrop of widespread mental health challenges, the documentary unfolds as a tale of resilience, bravery and community support.
However, the attached mural project faced controversy when Vernon city council opposed the planned installations, which would have featured the participating artists adorned in their personally crafted masks.
Petitions for and against the project were launched, and council support for the plan was eventually pulled.
Eleven of the murals were planned for walls in downtown Vernon.
Originating from the amplified mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Behind the Mask initiative engaged marginalized individuals in collaboration with a mental health professional, artist Katie Green, and crafted individualized masks visualizing participants' inner struggles.
To further extend the impact of the narrative, a travelling exhibition has been curated, allowing neighbouring communities to experience the message of Behind the Mask.
Organizations interested in hosting the exhibition are invited to reach out to Vernon Public Art Gallery at [email protected].