Film director used fake name to promote race-based ticket pricing

“The Sid thing was meant to be a layer of protection from angry people,” said Shiraz Higgins, who used the name Sid Mohammed to promote the screening and speak to media. He admitted the misrepresentation after being questioned about the identities by the Times Colonist.

“It was not a prank or publicity stunt. The purpose of the pricing model was to face issues of privilege in a tangible way,” said Higgins, who received $40,000 in funding from the Telus Optik Fund to produce the film, Building the Room, which features local comedians.

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Tickets for the screening this month at the Roxy Theatre were listed as $20 for “cisgender” white males and $10 for everyone else. Higgins described the model as “justice pricing” and an attempt to make the event more accessible for groups who are statistically poorer.

The “justice pricing” model incited a barrage of online rage as it was shared through social media.

Chelsea Lou is the only female out of seven personalities featured in Higgins’ film that focuses on comedy and said she now has security concerns about the premiere event.

“I’m not even sure I will go,” said Lou, who was not consulted about Higgins “justice pricing” scheme and said she does not know if it was meant to promote the event or social change.

Blue Bridge Theatre Society, which owns the Roxy Theatre, said it is not affiliated with Higgins’ production or ticket sales but occasionally rents out the theatre to outside groups. General manager Rebekah Johnson said the society will review its rental policies to ensure there are no discriminatory practices in the future.

spetrescu@timescolonist.com

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