Muslim women are disconcerting, intriguing, polarizing—and straitjacketed by conflations of ideas in front-page stories. While the media tend to portray them as submissive and silenced, filmmaker Saïda Ouchaou-Ozarowski has chosen to distance herself from that caricature, with which she does not identify. She sat down with six Muslim Canadian women eager to talk about what shapes their identities. The resulting documentary, In Full Voice, offers an intimate perspective on the journey of these women, who have a common desire to share their visions of Islam.
Raised in a refugee camp in the West Bank while her mother was in prison, Walaa dreams of becoming a policewoman in the Palestinian Security Forces (PSF). Despite discouragement from her family, even her beloved brother Mohammed, Walaa applies and gets in. But her own rebellious behaviour and complicated relationship with her mother are challenging, as are the circumstances under which she lives.
Following Walaa from 15-21, with an intimate POV, What Walaa Wants is the compelling story of a defiant young girl navigating formidable obstacles, learning which rules to break and follow, and disproving the negative predictions from her surroundings and the world at large.
WARNING: This film discusses the topic of childhood sexual assault. Viewer discretion is advised.
Why be silent about the most serious matters? Doesn’t silence perpetuate suffering? From the 1950s to the 1980s, Catholic priests sexually abused many young boys in the francophone towns of New Brunswick. These scandals only came to light when the victims were in their fifties, provoking shock and outrage in the media and the public. Why did the affected communities keep silent so long, preferring secrecy to justice and truth? Profiting from their positions of influence to impose a “pious silence” on their parishioners, authority figures built an abusive system that tells us as much about the type of oppression specific to the Acadian population as it does about the blanket denials issued by the Catholic Church. Called to confront the power of this collective silence, veteran filmmaker Renée Blanchar meets with survivors in an attempt to untangle the deeply rooted reasons for this secrecy. With The Silence, she takes us as close as she can to the humanity of these broken men, revealing the forces that, today as in the past, have the power to unite or divide Acadian communities.
Please note: This film contains explicit language. Viewer discretion is advised.
John Ware Reclaimed follows filmmaker Cheryl Foggo on her quest to re-examine the mythology surrounding John Ware, the Black cowboy who settled in Alberta, Canada, before the turn of the 20th century. Foggo’s research uncovers who this iconic figure might have been, and what his legacy means in terms of anti-Black racism, both past and present.
Filmmaker Paul Émile d'Entremont's documentary presents Reema, a lively and sensitive young girl confronted with difficult questions about her identity. After spending the first 16 years of her life with her Canadian mother, Reema re-connects with her Iraqi father by spending 2 months with him in Jordan. On returning home to Nova Scotia, she realizes she will always have a double identity, and that it is both a burden and a treasure.
Against the backdrop of the camera’s meditative wandering through the places that created Quebec, Where the Land Ends explores and questions the historical narrative, as a group of young people who were not old enough to vote in the 1995 referendum express their views. They seem to have decided, on their own, to create a new “Terre des Hommes” (Man and His World).
In 2013, an ancient statue of Apollo was found in the waters off Gaza—before disappearing under mysterious circumstances. Is it the work of forgers, or a gift from the gods to a Palestinian people desperately in need of hope? Soon the rumours start to swirl, while behind the scenes local and international players start jostling—some driven by historical preservation and others by purely commercial interests. Filmed in Gaza and Jerusalem, The Apollo of Gaza plays out like a mystery built around a national treasure that is the stuff of dreams. The Apollo of Gaza is an engaging reflection on the passage of time and the fragility of civilizations, as well as a poetic and philosophical meditation that immerses us in the often-misunderstood realities of life in a place that continues to pay a heavy price for the seemingly endless Israeli-Palestinian conflict—a place where life doggedly carries on, resisting. Like a meteor streaking across the sky, the statue of Apollo brings a moment of light and beauty to Gaza. Can it help restore dignity to a people, revealing a glorious history and fostering pride in a nation often misrepresented and demeaned?
Julia Kwan’s feature-length documentary Everything Will Be captures a significant moment of time in Vancouver’s Chinatown, with the influx of condos and new, non-Chinese businesses. The film follows a year in the life of several Chinatown denizens, including a 90-year-old Chinese newspaper street vendor and a second-generation tea shop owner, as they navigate this community in flux.
How can refugee children integrate into Quebec’s school system, given the unspeakable violence they’ve experienced? Following a psychologist specializing in conflict-related trauma, Unspoken Tears pays tribute to the admirable resilience and survival strategies of these “small adults,” whose spirit the bombs and camps have not completely crushed, at a time when it is vital to raise awareness in Western societies of migration-related issues and children’s rights.
At a critical moment in the history of the written word, as humanity’s archives migrate to the cloud, one filmmaker goes on a journey around the globe to better understand how she can preserve her own Romanian and Armenian heritage, as well as our collective memory. Blending the intellectual with the poetic, she embarks on a personal quest with universal resonance, navigating the continuum between paper and digital—and reminding us that human knowledge is above all an affair of the soul and the spirit.
A bold and eclectic cinematic style defines the work of filmmaker Michka Saäl and her friend, writer Nadine Ltaif as they journey from childhoods in the Middle East to their chosen home of Montréal. Saäl is Jewish, Ltaif is Arab. Together they overcome the divisive prejudices of their upbringing and embark on an engaging search for clarity, familiarity and historical significance among the immigrant communities of Montréal. Saäl uses super-8 home movies, old photographs, dramatizations and casual conversations to cross personal and political boundaries, giving voice to the varied ancestries of us all. In French with English subtitles.