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.
Murray Siple's feature-length documentary follows a group of homeless men who have combined bottle picking with the extreme sport of racing shopping carts down the steep hills of North Vancouver. This subculture shows that street life is much more than the stereotypes portrayed in mainstream media.
The film takes a deep look into the lives of the men who race carts, the adversity they face and the appeal of cart racing despite the risk. Shot in high-definition and featuring tracks from Black Mountain, Ladyhawk, Vetiver, Bison, and Alan Boyd of Little Sparta.
This documentary offers a compassionate, open-minded look at LSD and how it fits into our world. Long before Timothy Leary urged a generation to "tune in, turn on and drop out," the drug was hailed as a way to treat forms of addiction and mental illness. At the same time, it was being touted as a powerful tool for mental exploration and self-understanding. Featuring interviews with LSD pioneers, beautiful music and stunning cinematography, this is much more than a simple chronicle of LSD's early days. It's an alternative way of looking at the drug... and our world.
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
The NFB's 31st Oscar®-nominated film.
This film is a revealing portrait of a tough cop with a big heart. Sergeant Bernie "Whistling" Smith walks the beat on Vancouver's Eastside, the hangout of petty criminals, down-and-outs and a variety of characters. His policing is unorthodox. To many drug users, petty thieves and prostitutes in this economically depressed area he is more than the iron hand of the law, he is also a counsellor and a friend.
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 documentary portrays the front-line street workers who serve the needy under the umbrella of the Salvation Army. One of the world's largest social agencies, the Army is a religious institution that serves the practical needs of people first, believing that religion is of no use to anyone who is hungry, homeless and hopeless.
Join filmmaker Rosemary House as she peers into the hearts and minds of people on both sides of the street – those who help and those who need help. Shot in Toronto at Christmastime, the film chronicles the small hopes and tiny victories of life lived below the poverty line and the daily rewards for those who work to serve others.
This short documentary focuses on the children of alcoholics. In the relaxed environment of a mountain campsite, a group of young people discuss their anger and frustration, and talk about their struggle to cope with the problems created by their parents' drinking. By sharing their experiences, they open a door for others like them. Aimed primarily at an audience of elementary school children and older, this film provides an excellent vehicle for generating discussion about alcohol abuse and the family.
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 short documentary follows Jimmy Quinlan, one of the estimated 5000 men and women who lived in the streets and alleys of Montreal in the late 1970s. The film casts a harsh light on the realities of life on the street, as Jimmy battles his addictions; sobriety is a goal he's tried to achieve before and will probably have to try again. In and out of shelters, Jimmy's life is anything but stable, but his unique personality shines through in this affecting portrait.
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.
Ages 13 to 17
Health/Personal Development - Mental Health/Stress/Suicide
Health/Personal Development - Substance Use and Abuse/Addiction
Media Education - Documentary Film
Social Studies - Contemporary Issues
Encourage discussion about the stereotypes surrounding drug addicts. Discuss why so many teens turn to drugs as a coping strategy. Compare and contrast the reality of life on the streets with the Hollywood depiction of drug addiction. Students can research the term skid row, showing how it applies to some parts of large cities. Discuss the effectiveness of this kind of documentary as a deterrent.