A graphic on Minema's website advertising Thursday night's event. 

A new virtual space called Minema brought together a small audience on Thursday night to have a conversation about racism and social justice from a global perspective.

The event, “3 Perspectives, 1 Story: BLM Around the World,” had its 14 participants view their choice of two out of three short films offered and then join in conversation with the event’s hosts, Minema co-founders, Lorraine Ma (Medill ‘13) and Nate Kanefield.

“We chose these films for their artistic quality and social message,” Ma said. “When the Black Lives Matter protests were happening in the U.S., it had a ripple effect across the world.”

“Riot,” a French film, used artistic expression to show the pure anger following an act of police brutality against a Black man. “Leon,” an American film, portrayed a similar situation but focused on the feelings that come after anger. “Born With It” told the story of a young half Black, half Japanese boy who faces racism when he starts a new school in Japan and has to convince the other students that his darker skin is not a disease.

Ma and Kanefield created Minema last year and officially launched it in June. They noticed how quickly the world adapted to virtual interaction and saw an opportunity to change the way people tell stories. Their intention is to create interactive experiences around great stories and to bring the creator into the discussions.

“The magic happens when people experience a story together,” Kanefield added.

A screenshot of participants entering the interactive platform (Jenna Anderson/North by Northwestern).

The discussion was held in Minema’s unique virtual space. Participants pop up as little, circular icons in an outer space landscape. The closer a participant’s icon is to another person, the louder they sound. This also applied to the films. All three short films were playing at the same time, but you could only hear the one your icon was next to. For this program, participants dragged their icon onto a different flag representing each short film. After watching, they brought their icons back to the center to talk about them.

They have started to expand and now offer live theater programs. Kanefield said they are always looking for new creators, input or suggestions.

“It’s really important for us that we bring different perspectives,” he added.

Minema keeps their programs small to create intimacy, capping them at 50 participants, and they always set aside a block of free tickets for students.

“Students are at a pretty unique place,” Kanefield said. “You’re the future.”

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the creation date of Minema as this summer. The article has been updated to correct this error.