This documentary introduces us to Stephen Jenkinson, once the leader of a palliative care counselling team at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital. Through his daytime job, he has been at the deathbed of well over 1,000 people. What he sees over and over, he says, is "a wretched anxiety and an existential terror" even when there is no pain. Indicting the practice of palliative care itself, he has made it his life's mission to change the way we die - to turn the act of dying from denial and resistance into an essential part of life.
Tahani Rached’s powerful documentary enters the doors of an AIDS clinic in Montreal. We meet a group of dedicated doctors struggling to provide health care to their patients. This 1994 film explores legal and ethical problems surrounding HIV/AIDS and the struggle against fear, rumours and prejudice. It is still relevant today. In French with English subtitles.
This feature documentary tackles a taboo subject: the tragic effects of life-sustaining medical treatment on infants. Through the courageous testimony of a handful of doctors and therapists as well as the shocking stories told by devoted parents of disabled children, this film denounces the lack of support offered to science's little "miracles." Once saved, the children are more or less left to their fate by a medical system that does not give them the therapy needed to improve their quality of life and develop to their fullest potential.
In this short film, a 17-year-old girl refuses medical treatment that will prolong her life due to religious convictions. Her decision remains firm despite the pleas of her physician, who begins to question who has the right to determine a person's life or death.This short film is one of a series of short, open-ended dramas designed to stimulate discussion of values and ethics in relation to modern technology.
In July 1990, a dispute over a proposed golf course to be built on Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) lands in Oka, Quebec, set the stage for a historic confrontation that would grab international headlines and sear itself into the Canadian consciousness. Director Alanis Obomsawin—at times with a small crew, at times alone—spent 78 days behind Kanien’kéhaka lines filming the armed standoff between protestors, the Quebec police and the Canadian army. Released in 1993, this landmark documentary has been seen around the world, winning over a dozen international awards and making history at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it became the first documentary ever to win the Best Canadian Feature award. Jesse Wente, Director of Canada’s Indigenous Screen Office, has called it a “watershed film in the history of First Peoples cinema.”
Acclaimed Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh brings us a compelling documentary that puts a human face on a national tragedy – the epidemic of missing or murdered Indigenous women in Canada. The film takes a journey into the heart of Indigenous women's experience, from Vancouver's skid row, down the Highway of Tears in northern BC, and on to Saskatoon, where the murders and disappearances of these women remain unsolved.
This documentary reveals the exploratory work of a team from the University of Montreal who seek to understand the states of grace experienced by mystics and those who meditate. Filmmaker Isabelle Raynauld offers up scientific research that suggests that mystical ecstasy is a transformative experience and could contribute to people's psychic and physical health, treat depression and speed up the healing process when combined with conventional medicine. In French with English subtitles.
The NFB’s 2nd Academy-Award winning film.
In this short film, Norman McLaren employs the principles normally used to put drawings or puppets into motion to animate live actors. The story is a parable about two people who come to blows over the possession of a flower.
For more background info on this film, visit the NFB.ca blog.
Marguerite Paquin lives in a seniors’ home where 14 nuns from her religious congregation have succumbed to COVID-19. The film takes us from the grandeur of the landscapes of Côte-Nord, Quebec, where Marguerite has worked for 47 years, into the room where she sits confined today, finding a sort of liberation through prayer and unshakeable solidarity with her sisters who are suffering.
It's summer and Ludovic is invited to his grandfather's farm. The little teddy bear finds Grandpa very saddened by the death of Grandma, and Ludovic is fascinated by a room filled with mementos. Grandma's portrait comes to life, and Ludovic is able to kiss and hug her. This poignant tale evokes the closeness and understanding between a grandfather and his little grandson who gradually learn to accept the death of a loved one.
When unexpected illness lands Uncle Bob in the hospital, he's transported from his safe and familiar surroundings to a foreign and chaotic new world. As his stay lengthens, his spirits and health decline until his former life is just a distant memory. It takes a special visit from a special visitor to motivate him to get well. This animated short is a charming look at the importance of cheer, hope and love in the healing process.
This feature documentary follows Canadian actress Babz Chula to Kerala, India, where she is to undergo treatment by a renowned Ayurvedic healer in an effort to manage her 6-year battle with cancer. The bare-bones Indian clinic at first disappoints, but Babz is uplifted as her condition seemingly shows marked signs of improvement following treatment and introspection. Returning home, however, it is revealed that her cancer has actually advanced. Amazingly, the irrepressible actress invites filmmaker Anne Wheeler to continue bearing witness to her journey into the unknown.
Ages 16 to 17
Ethics and Religious Culture - Religious Diversity/Heritage
Family Studies/Home Economics - Aging/Death and Dying
Indigenous Studies - Identity/Society
Before viewing the film, have a discussion with students on their beliefs about death, dying, and the after-life, reflecting on how our religious views affect our beliefs. Post viewing: Suggest reasons why Steve Wilkinson has such unique convictions. Where do his ideas come from? As a group, discuss what Wilkinson means when he says “death makes us into human beings.” Comment on and identify the many examples of symbolism that director Tim Wilson uses in his film. What purpose does the symbolism serve?