The Reciprocal Realization of “Whispers of Life”: Artistic Invocation of Cultural Intervention into Suicide Prevention

By Joshua M. Ferguson.

Artists and Contributors

Regina Paulene V. Marcelo
Zian Alejandro
Gabriela Dela Cruz
Maria Angelica Dela Cruz
Riesha Kae B. De Castro
Rinette Sebastian
San Pablo MA
Kathleen SP
Leonora C. Angeles
Rosemarie A. Delgado
Mhayen Gayamo
Dennis Gupa
Nathan T. Forster
Seneca A. Forster
Chaya Go
Florian Halbedl

And fifteen others who wish to keep their names confidential.

Exhibit Film


Introduction to Exhibit

Whispers of Life (2013), Written and Directed by Florian Halbedl and Produced by Joshua M. Ferguson (Ph.D Candidate in the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia), was screened at four universities, colleges and high-schools in the Philippines (De La Salle University, Manila; Bulacan State University, Malolos, Bulacan; Next Generation College, Bulacan; Flora A. Ylagan High-School) in June, 2014.

The Whispers of Life screening tour was generously supported by the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia’s Dr. Leonora C. Angeles and her SSHRC grant: “Comparative State Feminism in Southeast Asia” and Whispers of Life Associate Producer Rosemarie A. Delgado.

Hundreds of students responded to Whispers of Life in a variety of artistic formats: pencil sketches and drawings, paintings (watercolour and acrylic), poems, hybrid combining both visual art and text

Some of the students preferred to author their work while others remained anonymous. The artistic outputs were transferred into a digital format in the form of still photographs.


About Whispers of Life

Whispers of Life tells the magical story about the interdependence of imagination and survival of Tom, a gay teenager, who is threatened by a bully’s homophobic words. As Tom sits on his park bench, ridden with angst, a stranger named Charles suddenly appears next to him and strikes up a conversation that forever alters the teenager’s future and life.

Whispers of Life Trailer
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Whispers of Life was selected by 21 film festivals around the world including festivals in the US, Canada, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Spain, Greece, India and Australia. Whispers of Life was also been awarded both the Audience Choice and Jury Choice Awards at the 26th Reel Pride Winnipeg Film Festival, the Best Short Film Audience Award at Reelout Film + Video Film Festival and Festival Favourite at The Palm Springs Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. The Director’s Guild of Canada nominated the film for Best Short Film 2014.

Whispers of Life short film works as an artistic intervention to challenge the societal taboo of suicide, the pervasive and damaging effects of anti-gay bullying and the fact that these issues are not discussed openly. Whispers of Life brings communication to the forefront of the discussion of suicide and anti-gay bullying. We were honoured to exhibit the film to youth, young-adult and adult educators in the Philippines in order to continue this cultural intervention in relation to suicide.

Art as a Cultural Intervention

The Whispers of Life screenings in the Philippines opened-up a critical space of cultural translation to raise important societal problems like suicide and bullying that works to transcend geographical boundaries, particularly related to marginalized/oppressed subjects. The powerful potential of artistic mediums to simultaneously inspire, educate and entertain audiences enables social justice-oriented cultural interventions to take place. Artistic mediums, cinema in this case, forces social justice interaction into action at the level of education. We witnessed a cultural intervention occur at every screening. Students and educators alike were impacted by the film’s messages of hope, survival and imagination in the face of adversity, oppression and isolation.

This exhibit provided the specific student audience at Bulacan State University Malolos and another new institution, St. James Academy in Plaridel, to respond to the film via their own chosen artistic medium. This exercise and exhibit illustrates the promise of participation via the engagement of self-reflection in response to a cinematic form of cultural intervention.

The exhibit forms vital connections between the impact of the film on the students and their important learning realizations. This demonstrates that original artistic creations (Whispers of Life) can inspire a variety of secondary artistic responses in many different formats, particularly drawings, poetry, paintings, hybrid visual and text work. These artistic responses enable the discussion about suicide prevention towards social justice action and realization.

About the artist

Joshua M. Ferguson is a PhD Candidate at the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice. Joshua (they/them/their pronouns) is a non-binary transgender filmmaker and scholar whose work employs film studies, film production, feminist poststructuralist theory and autoethnography to focus on expanding trans* and gender theory in order to raise awareness for the societal and cultural recognition of non-binary gender(s).

Dr. Leonora (Nora) C. Angeles is Associate Professor at the School of Community and Regional Planning and the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. She is also faculty research associate at the UBC Centre for Human Settlements where she has been involved in a number of applied research and capacity-building research projects in Brazil, Vietnam and Southeast Asian countries. Her continuing research and interests are on community and international development studies and social policy, participatory planning and governance, participatory action research, and the politics of transnational feminist networks, women’s movements and agrarian issues, particularly in the Southeast Asian region.


More about Whispers of Life

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“Whisper of Life”‘s Reciprocal Realization: Artistic Invocation of Cultural Intervention into Suicide Prevention by Joshua M. Ferguson and the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.