Media Café began as a series of monthly community screenings at the Richmond Cultural Centre in 2008. Over time, it evolved into a salon-style gathering featuring film screenings, artist talks and demos, workshops, performances, and topical discussions. In this new format, Media Café became a spontaneous, responsive, and open platform where participants could share and explore personal interests or bring big ideas and community concerns for discussion.
These events stimulated critical engagement and debate on issues close to home. In 2009, a screening of Warrior Boyz brought together community stakeholders, including former gang members, social workers, law enforcement officers, and local researchers for a conversation on gang violence. This was the first event to address the complexity of gang violence in the Lower Mainland by bringing together multiple perspectives amidst the furor of one-sided media reporting.
Other notable events include Rapping Afghan, which presented an array of Afghan films, poetry and music; Reclaiming History: Stories of Japanese Canadian Internment, a double-bill screening and discussion of Stolen Memories and Breaking The Silence by director Kagan Goh; and a screening and panel discussion of Blood and Water, the first primetime network drama in North American television history featuring an all-Asian cast and performed in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese.
The program has been supported by the City of Richmond since 2008 and established long term partnerships with many key community partners, such as the Richmond Media Lab, Richmond Public Library, Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond Public Art, Richmond Women’s Resource Centre, Richmond Food Security, Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra, Richmond Family Place, David Lam Centre of SFU, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, ISS of BC, VIVO Media Art Centre and many others.