Being young is tough, especially if you're Black, Latino, Arab or Asian. In a city like Montreal, you can get targeted and treated as a criminal for no good reason. Zero Tolerance reveals how deep seated prejudice can be. On one side are the city's young people, and on the other, its police force. Two worlds, two visions. Yet one of these groups is a minority, while the other wields real power. One has no voice, while the other makes life-and-death decisions.
When a policy of zero tolerance to crime masks an intolerance to young people of colour, the delicate balance between order and personal freedom is upset. A blend of cinéma vérité and personal testimonies, this hard-hitting film will broaden your mind and change your way of thinking. In French with English subtitles.
Over the course of a decade Brooks, Alberta, transformed from a socially conservative, primarily white town to one of the most diverse places in Canada as immigrants and refugees flocked to find jobs at the Lakeside Packers slaughterhouse. This film is a portrait of those people working together and adapting to change through the first-ever strike at Lakeside.
This 1996 documentary takes a nostalgic ride through history to present the experiences of Black sleeping-car porters who worked on Canada's railways from the early 1900s through the 1960s. There was a strong sense of pride among these men and they were well-respected by their community. Yet, harsh working conditions prevented them from being promoted to other railway jobs until finally, in 1955, porter Lee Williams took his fight to the union.
Claiming discrimination under the Canada Fair Employment Act, the Black workers won their right to work in other areas. Interviews, archival footage and the music of noted jazz musician Joe Sealy (whose father was a porter) combine to portray a fascinating history that might otherwise have been forgotten.
This feature documentary paints an engaging portrait of Oumar, an auto mechanic from Burkina Faso. Always ready to lend a helping hand, Oumar has become a vital, central part of his community, in Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood. People tend to gather round as he works, and talk often turns to weighty issues: feminism, polygamy, politics, religion. In eight months’ time, he is due to return for a visit with his family after six years away, so he is searching for hundreds of presents to take with him. Back home, when you leave the nest, it’s to look for wealth. Otherwise, failure awaits…
In their predominantly white high school in Halifax, a group of black students face daily reminders of racism, ranging from abuse (racist graffiti on washroom walls), to exclusion (the omission of black history from textbooks). They work to establish a Cultural Awareness Youth Group, a vehicle for building pride and self-esteem through educational and cultural programs. With help from mentors, they discover the richness of their heritage and learn some of the ways they can begin to effect change.
This documentary celebrates the vibrant culture and tenacious struggle of the Canadian Gypsy and introduces a new generation of Roma who claim their roots with pride. They call themselves by their rightful name, the Roma. Almost 80,000 call Canada home. Meet Julia Lovell, a passionate defender of Roma human rights, whose father is slowly gaining the confidence to reveal his heritage; and Karen Gray Boothroyd, a flamenco dancer just beginning to reclaim her Gypsy roots.
Anne Marie Nakagawa's documentary examines what it means to have a background of mixed ancestries that cannot be easily categorized. By focusing on 7 Canadians who have one parent from a European background and one of a visible minority, she attempts to get at the root of what it means to be multi-ethnic in a world that wants each person to fit into a single category.
Finding a satisfactory frame of reference in our 'multicultural utopia' turns out to be more complex than one might think. Between: Living in the Hyphen offers a provocative glimpse of what the future holds: a departure from hyphenated names towards a celebration of fluidity and being mixed.
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.
This feature documentary zooms in on Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges borough, where over 75 ethnic groups live side by side in a dizzying swirl of sound and colour. One day, filmmaker Lucie Lachapelle began knocking on the doors that isolated her from her neighbours. The result is a vibrant film about freedom and uprootedness set to urban music composed by Montreal jazz artist Harold Faustin.
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.
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.
Ages 13 to 18
Civics/Citizenship - Citizen Responsibilities
Diversity - Diversity in Communities
Ethics and Religious Culture - Ethical Values
History and Citizenship Education - Issues in Society Today
This film provides a superb opportunity to look at difficult themes such as racism within police forces. What role do factors such as “ethnic” appearance and socio-economic status play in how people are treated by authority figures? What is racial profiling, and can its use be justified? What are the influences of well-meaning anti-racism and anti-discrimination laws in the daily lives of authority figures? Is our society as democratic, just, and egalitarian as we would like to think? Are there Canadian parallels to the problems of integrating youth that France has experienced? What are the similarities and differences between the two?