Canadian filmmaker Shiraz Higgins is navigating the backlash following a controversial ticket pricing he proposed for his new movie, which has since led to a flood of racist comments and even death threats.
For the September 28 premiere in Victoria, British Columbia of his new movie, “Building the Room,” a documentary about stand-up comics, Higgins wanted to charge white males $US20 while women paid $US10 for tickets to the screening.
Calling it “justice-pricing,” Higgins did an interview with The Canadian Press earlier this week using the false name “Sid Mohammed” to promote it, as he was concerned about the backlash if he used his real name. Higgins claims the email address he created for the pseudonym has since gotten death threats. He also said his cast and crew have suffered “racist attacks.”
Higgins then lowered the price for “White Cis-Straight Able-Bodied Males” to $US15, everyone else would pay $US10.
Many have called this a publicity stunt by Higgins, as he’s known to pull stunts in the past. A few years ago, he invited reporters to meet a Salvation Army youth pastor who was allegedly endorsing gay marriage, but in reality the pastor was an actor, and the bit appeared in Higgins’ film. But Higgins told The Hollywood Reporter that the justice-pricing was not a stunt but a way to “spark a conversation about income inequality.”
“It was never intended to be a national conversation,” Higgins said. “It’s a local screening, featuring an unknown cast of comedians, from an unknown director, in an little known city. For some reason, the national media thought it was a story that needed to be run far and wide.”
Higgins said he never intended to keep white men out of the screening.
This comes on the heels of the Alamo Drafthouse doing women-only “Wonder Woman” screenings this past summer. The theatre chain was flooded with comments on social media by men who opposed it. Drafthouse is currently involved in two lawsuits over the matter.
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