With unprecedented access, this documentary paints an intimate, complex portrait of kids in jail. The film raises difficult yet vital questions about at-risk youth and young offenders, and asks: Should we be doing more to help them?
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.
In this personal documentary, award-winning photographer and filmmaker Nance Ackerman invites us into the lives of a determined family for a profound experience of child poverty in one of the richest countries in the world. 20 years after the House of Commons promised to eliminate poverty among Canadian children, 8-year-old Isaiah is trying hard to grow up healthy, smart and well adjusted despite the odds stacked against him. Isaiah knows he's been categorized as "less fortunate," and his short life has seen more than his share of social workers, food banks and police interventions. His parents struggle to overcome a legacy of stereotypes, abuse and dysfunction. More than anything, they want Isaiah and his siblings to have access to opportunities they never had. Ackerman spent 2 years with Isaiah and his family. As her portrait of the family unfolds with the help of Isaiah's creative input, curiosity and zest for life, so do Ackerman's own feelings about the responsibilities of Canadians to raise all children as our best investment in the nation's future.
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 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 feature documentary profiles four residents of the Brockville Mental Health Centre, a forensic psychiatric hospital for people who have committed violent crimes. Four patients—two men and two women—struggle to gain control over their lives so they can return to a society that often fears and demonizes them. Shrouded in stigma, institutions like this one are places into which patients disappear from public view for years.
Four-time Emmy winner John Kastner was granted unprecedented access to the Brockville facility for 18 months, allowing 46 patients and 75 staff to share their experiences with stunning frankness.
For more background information on this film, please visit the NFB.ca blog.
Filmed in cinéma vérité style, this feature-length doc follows a group of incarcerated men with troubled pasts as they undergo treatment based on Indigenous philosophy at the Waseskun Healing Center. Director Steve Patry spent a full year with these men, gaining their trust and confidence. The result is a remarkable and gripping film about learning to overcome suffering and finding balance.
This feature documentary tells the stories of 5 asylum seekers who flee their native countries to escape homophobic violence. They face hurdles integrating into Canada, fear deportation and anxiously await a decision that will change their lives forever.
The people of the Attawapiskat First Nation, a Cree community in northern Ontario, were thrust into the national spotlight in 2012 when the impoverished living conditions on their reserve became an issue of national debate. With The People of the Kattawapiskak River, Abenaki director Alanis Obomsawin quietly attends as community members tell their own story, shedding light on a history of dispossession and official indifference. “Obomsawin’s main objective is to make us see the people of Attawapiskat differently,” said Robert Everett-Green in The Globe & Mail. “The emphasis, ultimately, is not so much on looking as on listening—the first stage in changing the conversation, or in making one possible.” Winner of the 2013 Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary, the film is part of a cycle of films that Obomsawin has made on children’s welfare and rights.
Also available on the Alanis Obomsawin: A Legacy DVD box set
This feature documentary tells the story of 2 teens who head out west in search of self. Like a quarter of Vancouver’s itinerant youth population, Mélo and Ti-criss made the trip from Quebec, hopeful for a better life. Still minors, the pair seeks escape and adventure, perhaps the meaning of life. From east to west, from the streets to a hotel, with a welcome interlude in the country, they seek their place in society.
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.
Ages 16 to 18
Family Studies/Home Economics - Adolescent Development
Social Studies - Contemporary Issues
Social Studies - Law
Social Studies - Social Policies and Programs
The Youth Justice Act’s goal is to ensure a fair and effective youth justice system. What are some of the reasons why the law treats offenders aged 12 to 17 differently from adult offenders? In adult correctional facilities, male and female prisoners are segregated. Should this be the case for youth offenders as well? Why do so many offenders return to correctional facilities after they have been released from these institutions? Are there ways of reducing recidivism rates?