This historical drama tells the story of Qin Shihuang, who unified China’s vast territory and declared himself emperor in 221 B.C. During his reign, he introduced sweeping reforms, built a vast network of roads and connected the Great Wall of China. From the grandiose inner sanctum of Emperor Qin's royal palace, to fierce battles with feudal kings, this film re-creates the glory and the terror of the Qin Dynasty, including footage of Qin's life-sized terra cotta army, constructed 2,200 years ago for his tomb. The First Emperor of China was shot entirely in IMAX.
The NFB's 63rd Oscar®-nominated film.
Shui-Bo Wang's feature documentary is a visual autobiography of an artist who grew up in China during the historic upheavals of the ‘60s, '70s and '80s. A rich collage of original artwork and family and archival photos presents a personal perspective on the turbulent Cultural Revolution and the years that followed. For Shui-Bo Wang and others of his generation, Tiananmen Square was the central symbol of the new China – a society to be based on equality and cooperation. This animated documentary artfully traces Shui-Bo's roots and his own life journey as he struggles to sort through ideology and arrive at truth.
In this documentary, Paul Cowan delivers unprecedented access to the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping, and the determined and often desperate manoeuvres to avert another Rwandan disaster, this time in the Democratic Republic of Congo (the DRC). The film cuts back and forth between the United Nations headquarters in New York and events on the ground in the DRC. We are with the peacekeepers in the 'Crisis Room' as they balance the risk of loss of life on the ground with the enormous sums of money required from uncertain donor countries. We are with UN troops as the northeast Congo erupts and the future of the DRC, if not all of central Africa, hangs in the balance. As Secretary General Kofi Annan tells the General Assembly at the conclusion of The Peacekeepers: "History is a harsh judge. The world will not forgive us if we do nothing." Whether the world's peacekeeper did enough remains to be seen.
This full-length documentary tells the story of modern Korea, a nation divided in half. The psychic scar shared by families divided during the Korean War in the 1950s is symbolized by the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing communist North from capitalist South. Along this infamous border, filmmaker Min Sook Lee begins an emotion-charged journey into Korea’s broken heart, exploring the rhetoric and realism of reunification through the extraordinary stories of ordinary people. An eloquent tale of longing and hope,
This full-length documentary tells the story of 2 Afghans who return to Afghanistan in search of their families after a 16-year exile. Like many Afghan children, Soorgul and Amir were sent to Tajikistan during the Soviet occupation of their country. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the civil wars that broke out on both sides of the border left the children stranded, unable to leave the country until Canada accepted them as refugees.
The Sweetest Embrace tells an intimate story set against one of the world's most harsh and yet beautiful landscapes, in a land where life has been shaped by war and hardship but where spirit remains resilient.
Filmmaker Karen Cho travels from Montreal to Vancouver to uncover stories from the last survivors of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act, a set of laws imposed to single out the Chinese as unwanted immigrants to Canada from 1885 to 1947. Through a combination of history, poetry and raw emotion, this documentary sheds light on an era that shaped the identity of generations.
This feature documentary exposes the little-known tragedy of girl soldiers in Uganda. How can they learn to live normal lives again after being abducted and trained to become killing machines? Clinging to their dreams, Grace, Milly and Lucy are trying to restore meaning to their lives and break the silence surrounding the fate of a sacrificed generation.
Filmed in the Indian Himalayas and in Canada, A Song for Tibet tells the dramatic story of the efforts by Tibetans in exile, including the Dalai Lama, to save their homeland and preserve their heritage against overwhelming odds. Since the invasion of their territory by China in the late 1950s, Tibetans have been struggling for cultural and political survival.
A feature documentary on Nigeria’s successful movie industry. The creative duo of Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal – the same team who made Discordia – profile the Lagos-based dream machine. Operating on low budgets and tight schedules, “Nollywood” specializes in a unique form of African B-movie that draws upon both traditional voodoo stories and contemporary urban themes.
This feature documentary tells the story of Akhenaten, an ancient pharaoh who was almost lost to history. The film follows Canadian archaeologist Dr. Donald Redford, who uncovered the foundation of one of the pharaoh’s many temples, in his attempt to finally piece together this great Egyptian ruler’s enigmatic story.
Viewer Advisory: This film contains scenes of animal slaughter.
This documentary is a portrait of modern-day Pondicherry, an ancient city near the southern tip of India. For several centuries an outpost of France, the city is now home to Auroville, a spiritual community growing on its periphery. There, European and North American devotees of Sri Aurobindo, a Bengali poet and mystic, come to live the contemplative life. Their guru is a 94-year-old woman from France. This mecca of sorts is seen through the eyes of Albert Jordan, a professor from Concordia University, in Montreal, who spent a year there with his family in 1971.
For decades, Colombia has ranked first among countries in the number of social leaders assassinated. From 2002 to 2009, more than 470 leaders were killed by paramilitary militias in the pay of companies ready to do anything to crush the unions. Among these unscrupulous corporate brands were bottling plants of Coca-Cola company products.
These unpunished crimes spur U.S. activists Dan Kovalik, Terry Collingsworth and Ray Rogers into an ambitious crusade against the soft drink giant, accusing them of turning a blind eye to the misdeeds brought to their attention. By following the relentless efforts of this unshakeable trio, The Coca-Cola Case takes us on a fascinating legal road-movie, against a backdrop of denunciation campaigns claiming: Stop Killer Coke!
After five years of struggle, will Coca-Cola yield in the end? And on the verge of a settlement, what will the victims choose—cash, or power and integrity?
Ages 16 to 18
Civics/Citizenship - Ideologies
History - World History
History and Citizenship Education - Neolithic Civilization to the Renaissance
Social Studies - Comparative Civilizations
Warning (if any): Violence
Brief “lesson launcher type” activity or a series of inquiry questions with a bit of context:
Dramatization of the rule of the first emperor of China, Emperor Qin, narrated by Christopher Plummer.
In the film they mention that many men join the army for glory. Do you think men and women today join the army for similar reasons? Why or why not?
There was a steep human cost for Qin’s empire. Do governments continue to sacrifice citizens for power or glory? How so?
During Qin’s rule, he took to burning books to control public thought; when else in history has this happened? This escalated to killing dissidents or those who criticize policy. How are the policies related?
When did freedom of speech become more acknowledged as universal?
Why did Qin’s legacy not continue past 36 months after his death? Why do many dictatorships not succeed? What predicts the longevity of a leader and their policies?