By Gloria Bacci
The awards just keep on coming for Ryerson faculty members.
Zoe Dirse, who teaches documentary production in the school of image arts, is part of a Gemini Award-winning team for best social/political documentary, Runaway Grooms.
She joined the project as director of photography. For Dirse, the Gemini is not only a personal honour, it also reflects the calibre of image arts at Ryerson “I think (we) have a good core of people teaching here,” she said. “I feel fortunate to be working at Ryerson so I can bring my experience and expertise to the classroom.”
So far, the feedback from her students has been positive. “They liked it,” Dirse said. “At the moment I am teaching documentary, so it’s quite interesting for (the students). I get to talk to them about the process of making a film like this.”
Runaway Grooms, which originally aired in March on CBC’s The Passionate Eye, addresses a growing trend of wedding fraud perpetrated by Indo-Canadian men. The typical scheme involves would-be grooms who travel to India to marry and extort large dowries from women who are promised a better life in Canada. Wives are often left waiting for immigration papers that never come and are ultimately abandoned by their husbands.
The film, directed and produced by Ali Kazimi, explores the patriarchal culture that makes this phenomenon possible. Dirse hopes Runaway Grooms will give a voice to the women who have been victimized. She also wants to raise awareness so the court systems in India and Canada can address the problem. With more than 20 years of experience in documentary filmmaking, Dirse’s work has touched on a wide range of social, political and cultural issues. She has just returned from Rwanda, where she shot a documentary on AIDS for UNICEF. Dirse is in the process of filming Beyond Barriers, a short documentary about health care for the homeless.
The project’s producer and director, Liz Marshall, is a Ryerson alumna who graduated from the Media Arts program in 1994. CBC will re-air Runaway Grooms on Dec. 2, 3 and 4. Another of Dirse’s projects, Tiger, a documentary on wrestling legend Tiger Jeet Singh, will re-air on CBC’s Roughcuts on Dec. 2.