This feature documentary explores the state of prostitution laws in Canada. It captures the complexity of the issue by listening to the frequently conflicting voices of sex workers, policy-makers, lawyers, and even the male buyers who make their argument for why prostitution is good for society. Warning: This film deals with mature subject matter. Viewer discretion is advised.
Following the release of Buying Sex, Professor Alan Young, counsel for the applicants in Bedford v. Canada and a participant in the film, contacted the NFB to complain that the film provides an incomplete and inaccurate account of the case. The NFB acknowledges that the constitutional challenge is not the focus of the film. Rather, the aim of the film is to examine the current controversy in Canada around the decriminalization of prostitution, of which the Bedford case is one aspect. The goal is to create a film which encourages Canadians to engage in an informed debate about sex work from a national and international perspective. The NFB believes the film achieves this purpose. In the spirit of furthering an informed debate on these issues, including the constitutional challenge, and in response to Prof. Young's concerns, the NFB provides below links to the legal briefs filed by the parties before the Supreme Court of Canada as well as links to the judgments of all three Canadian Courts. The third judgment, from the Supreme Court of Canada, was released in December 2013, following the completion of the film. The Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the three prostitution related laws challenged by Prof. Young, but suspended its judgment for one year to allow Parliament to consider whether to enact new laws, thus ensuring that the debate surrounding the decriminalization of prostitution will continue in Canada for some time.
Legal Briefs Filed by the Parties in the Supreme Court of Canada
Judgments from the Trial Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada
Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72 (Supreme Court of Canada)
Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2012 ONCA 186 (Court of Appeal for Ontario)
Bedford v. Canada, 2010 ONSC 4264 (CanLII) (Superior Court of Ontario)
Inspired by a real-life news item, this animated short paints a pulsating portrait of a mixed-use, working-class neighbourhood where young families cross paths with prostitutes, their interactions leaving unpredictable ripples in the motley fabric of urban life.
Directed by John Kastner, this feature documentary about violence, mental illness, and the rights of victims tells the story of a troubled young man who stabbed a complete stranger 6 times in a crowded shopping mall while gripped by psychosis. Twelve years later, his victim, who miraculously survived, is terrified to learn that he’s out, living in the community under supervision. He’s applying for an absolute discharge, and if he succeeds, he’ll no longer be required to take the anti-psychotic drugs that control his mental illness. With unprecedented access to the patient, the victim, and the mental institution, the film looks at both sides of the debate and puts a human face on the complex ethical issues raised.
This feature documentary is a candid journey into the world of 4 young Canadian women who work as well-paid hostesses in exclusive Japanese nightclubs. Lured by adventure and easy money, these modern-day geisha find themselves caught up in the mizu shobai—the complex "floating water world" of Tokyo clubs and bars. Drawn by fast money, some women become consumed by the lavish lifestyle and forget why they came; one hostess calls this "losing the plot." With a pulsating visual style, Tokyo Girls captures the raw energy of urban Japan and its fascination with the new.
Feminism has shaped the society we live in. But just how far has it brought us, and how relevant is it today? This feature documentary zeroes in on key concerns such as violence against women, access to abortion, and universal childcare, asking how much progress we have truly made on these issues. Rich with archival material and startling contemporary stories, Status Quo? uncovers answers that are provocative and at times shocking.
This gripping documentary takes a powerful look at the lives of people with substance use disorder in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Filmmaker Veronica Alice Mannix follows Constable Al Arsenault and six other police officers on their daily beat, documenting their unique relationships with people who speak candidly about their painful past experiences, their drug addiction, and life on the street.
In this short documentary, a succession of black and white photographs provides a gritty look at juvenile prostitution and at the young people, male and female, struggling to get off the streets. Highlighting the links between being sexually abused as a child, loss of self-esteem, and turning to the streets, the film quickly dispels the images of glamor and big money usually associated with prostitution, and shows the positive efforts of child-care workers to help juvenile prostitutes find a way out.
This feature documentary takes us through the twists and turns of judicial proceedings pitting Canadian mining companies Barrick Gold and Banro against author Alain Deneault, his co-writers and publisher Éditions Écosociété, following the 2008 release of the book Noir Canada, which raised troubling questions about the controversial practices of Canadian mining companies in Africa. Silence is Gold is a legal and political thriller that captures years of intense psychological tension.
This short documentary offers an Indigenous perspective on the devastating experience of searching for a loved one who has disappeared. Volunteer activist Kyle Kematch and award-winning writer Katherena Vermette have both survived this heartbreak and share their histories with each other and the audience. While their stories are different, they both exemplify the beauty, grace, resilience, and activism born out of the need to do something.
This feature-length documentary tells the story of jockey Ron Turcotte, who, along with his legendary horse Secretariat, won the prestigious American Triple Crown in 1973. Follow along as we witness Turcotte’s rise to fame, the fall in 1978 that left him a paraplegic and his emotional journey back to the people and places that marked his life. This is a road movie that delves deep into the thrilling and dangerous world of horseracing, featuring never-before-seen footage of Secretariat and appearances by Triple Crown winners Steve Cauthen and Jean Cruguet.
Ages 16 to 18
Ethics and Religious Culture - Ethical Values
Health/Personal Development - Sexuality
History and Citizenship Education - Civil Rights and Freedoms
Social Studies - Canadian Politics and Government
Buying Sex highlights some of the equity issues in Canada at the moment. Brainstorm the challenges that sex workers face trying to escape the limits of their profession. Present a map of the current prostitution laws across the world. Can students find any similarities between the countries that have more lenient laws? Find news coverage of the Bedford v. Canada decision from multiple sources and search for reporting bias. What is the current status of prostitution laws in Canada?