Spreading care and compassion through film

- December 12, 2016

Dentistry student Danah Al-Radhan, left, at work on her film "We All Need Compassion." (Provided photo)
Dentistry student Danah Al-Radhan, left, at work on her film "We All Need Compassion." (Provided photo)

Danah Al-Radhan is a third-year Dentistry student from Kuwait who has harnessed her passion for filmmaking into support for this year’s For The Health Of It’s (FTHOI) chosen charity, Mobile Outreach Street Health (MOSH).

Each year the Faculty of Health Professions, Medicine, and Dentistry join forces to put on a variety show of music and skits in support of their chosen charity. Last year, Danah worked behind the scenes, but this year she wanted to do something more to raise awareness and raise money for the charity. So she decided to make a film about MOSH and its work titled "We All Need Compassion."

This is not Danah’s first film. As a Dal undergrad, her nature conservation class was asked to write an essay or make a video about fracking. She enjoyed the process of making the film and loved the response it got. She was hooked.

In 2012, she entered the Canadian Bureau for International Education Photo and Video Contest and submitted a three-minute, light-hearted film about how she adapted to life at Dal called “Canada: My Perspective”. Out of more than 50 entrants, Danah was the winner.

Trying to make the world a better place

“Before going into dentistry, I was always interested in social awareness and trying to make the world a better place,” says Danah. “What I love about film is that it is accessible. You can reach everyone.”

She began by talking with Patti Melanson, team lead at MOSH. “I asked her if MOSH was interested in having a film made about its work and what she would like to get out of it. It was Patti who suggested approaching it from the perspective of an international student. It was a great way to introduce the charity.”

Then Danah set about the task of researching, writing, and filming, enlisting the help of three friends from Dentistry — Inam Syed, Ahmad Al Masri, and Wael Hassan — to help her film the sections she is in.

She found herself visiting the MOSH van – a clinic on wheels – and interviewing people like Rick Swayne, a registered nurse on the MOSH team, and the people he looks after.

Telling the stories

“I found that people wanted to be heard and for me to share their stories. I learned so much by stepping into the shoes of these people and seeing things from their perspective. That’s why the camera is down so low. When I filmed Steven, who plays the violin on Spring Garden Road, the camera was literally at his feet.”

While she was shocked and moved by the stories of the street, Danah was most taken aback by the compassion she saw in people like Patti and Rick. “I was inspired by the humanity I was seeing and it’s why I called the film ‘We All Need Compassion’.  It also inspired me to want to show the great work they do.”

It must be remembered that Danah researched, interviewed, wrote, and filmed “We All Need Compassion” while attending classes, working in the dental clinic, and preparing for exams and assessments. “I had a lot of ‘hangry’ moments, and there were many nights when I didn’t get a lot of sleep. I worked hard to manage my time and plan ahead. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.”

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