This feature documentary presents a thoughtful and vivid portrait of a community facing imposed relocation. At the centre of the story is a remarkably astute and luminous 12-year-old black girl whose poignant observations about life, the soul, and the power of art give voice to those rarely heard in society. Unarmed Verses is a cinematic rendering of our universal need for self-expression and belonging.
This documentary reveals some of the hidden history of Blacks in Canada. In the 1930s in rural Ontario, a farmer buried the tombstones of a Black cemetery to make way for a potato patch. In the 1980s, descendants of the original settlers, Black and White, came together to restore the cemetery, but there were hidden truths no one wanted to discuss. Deep racial wounds were opened. Scenes of the cemetery excavation, interviews with residents and re-enactments—including one of a baseball game where a broken headstone is used for home plate—add to the film's emotional intensity.
This feature documentary takes us to the heart of the Jane-Finch "Corridor" in the early 1980s. Covering six square blocks in Toronto's North York, the area readily evokes images of vandalism, high-density subsidized housing, racial tension, despair and crime. By focusing on the lives of several of the residents, many of them black or members of other visible minorities, the film provides a powerful view of a community that, contrary to its popular image, is working towards a more positive future.
On the heels of the Toronto Raptors’ historic NBA Championship and the record-setting number of Canadian draft picks, the Toronto hoop dream is more alive than ever. In this feature-length doc, director Ryan Sidhoo shines the spotlight on 12-year-old Elijah Fisher, 15-year-old Keone Davis and 18-year-old Cordell Veira as they navigate today’s youth basketball machine in pursuit of their own NBA dreams.
This animated film by Martine Chartrand (Black Soul) recounts the friendship between a young Félix Leclerc and Frank Randolph Macpherson, a Jamaican chemical engineer and university graduate who worked for a pulp and paper company. An inveterate jazz fan, Macpherson inspired Leclerc, who wrote a song about the log drives and entitled it “MacPherson” in honour of his friend. Paint-on-glass animation shot with a 35mm camera.
This documentary tells the story of a young man’s struggle to balance his African traditions and new Canadian home. Arinze Eze was born in Canada and raised in Nigeria. An engineer by trade, he returned to his birthplace after 20 years. There, he starts a new career in the arts and falls in love with Canadian woman. All is well until his parents come for a visit. How will they react to this new life?
Director Mina Shum makes her foray into feature documentary by reopening the file on a watershed moment in Canadian race relations – the infamous Sir George Williams Riot. Over four decades after a group of Caribbean students accused their professor of racism, triggering an explosive student uprising, Shum locates the protagonists and listens as they set the record straight, trying to make peace with the past.
Renee Thompson is trying to make it as a top fashion model in New York. She's got the looks, the walk and the drive. But she’s a black model in a world where white women represent the standard of beauty. Agencies rarely hire black models. And when they do, they want them to look “like white girls dipped in chocolate.”
The Colour of Beauty is a shocking short documentary that examines racism in the fashion industry. Is a black model less attractive to designers, casting directors and consumers? What is the colour of beauty?
This film is part of the Work For All series, produced by the National Film Board of Canada, with the participation of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
This short documentary follows several refugee families during their first 19 days in Canada, as they navigate an unfamiliar terrain that has suddenly become their home. Located in the quiet Calgary neighbourhood of Bridgeland, the Margaret Chisholm Resettlement Centre is the starting point for government-assisted refugees who arrive in the city. During the 19-day timeline established by the federal government, an initial assessment is done and refugees are assisted with everything from airport reception and orientation to referrals, documents, and counselling.
19 Days reveals the human side of the refugee resettlement process. A unique look at the global migration crisis and one particular stage of asylum, it lays plain the realities faced on the difficult road towards integration.
Some dreamers have the power to inspire us, bring us together, and help us reconnect with our humanity. Alain Philoctète, a Haitian artist and activist who settled in Quebec, returns to the country of his birth to develop a permaculture project with local farmers. There, he has an emotional reunion with family members and his former comrades in arms, whose ideals remain unshaken despite the lingering aftermath of the 2010 earthquake and political instability. However, Alain, who is suffering from cancer, has to undergo treatment in Montreal, where his loved ones provide the same degree of affection and solidarity as he receives in Haiti. Director Will Prosper films this inspiring dreamer on his hopeful quest, chronicling the challenges of exile and illness with the personal, knowing touch of a longtime friend. With a rich score composed by Jenny Salgado, Kenbe la, Until We Win offers a cinematic journey that will move viewers to ponder the importance of embracing ideals and passing them on.
Ages 13 to 18
English Language Arts - Poetry
Family Studies/Home Economics - Adolescent Development
Family Studies/Home Economics - Housing
Ideal for encouraging students to use art to explore social issues. Use poetry, fiction, painting, music or another art form to create an artistic piece that explores a social issue affecting your life, family, neighbourhood or community. Describe your creative process, the themes you wanted to explore and the reaction that others had to the piece. Then create a second piece. How did others’ comments affect or influence your second piece? What surprised you about your own message and process?