10 films to help bridge the cultural divide (Ages 12+)

10 films to help bridge the cultural divide (Ages 12+)

This playlist aims to spark conversation with your students regarding the role of cultural diversity within Canada and globally. Students are introduced to the perspectives of people from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Together, these films and their accompanying educator guides, promote the sharing of values, histories, and knowledge, while acknowledging one another's roots.

Align this playlist within your Equity Studies curriculum as it addresses the themes of construction of cultural identities and the importance of respecting and embracing cultural diversity. You will find practical applications to use these films by consulting the suggested activities within the accompanying educator guides.

  • Vistas: Carrying Fire
    2009|3 min

    This short film weaves together animation and live action to show how the fire of our spirit is passed from one camp and one generation to the next.

    Vistas is a series of 13 short films on nationhood from 13 Indigenous filmmakers from Halifax to Vancouver. It was a collaborative project between the NFB and APTN to bring Indigenous perspectives and stories to an international audience.

  • Vistas: Crossing the Line
    2009|3 min

    Filmmaker Tracey Deer's short film turns the politics and conflicts of a playground sandbox into an allegory for the way nations treat one another, and the borders seem to do more harm than good.

    Vistas is a series of 13 short films on nationhood from 13 Indigenous filmmakers from Halifax to Vancouver. It was a collaborative project between the NFB and APTN to bring Indigenous perspectives and stories to an international audience.

  • Vistas: Boxed In
    2009|4 min

    In this short film, a young woman of mixed ancestry struggles with an Equal Opportunity Form that requires her to respond to the dilemma: Ethnicity - Choose One.

    Vistas is a series of 13 short films on nationhood from 13 Indigenous filmmakers from Halifax to Vancouver. It was a collaborative project between the NFB and APTN to bring Indigenous perspectives and stories to an international audience.

  • Between: Living in the Hyphen
    2005|43 min

    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.

  • Totem: The Return of the G'psgolox Pole
    2003|1 h 10 min

    This feature-length documentary traces the journey of the Haisla people to reclaim the G'psgolox totem pole that went missing from their British Columbia village in 1929. The fate of the 19th century traditional mortuary pole remained unknown for over 60 years until it was discovered in a Stockholm museum where it is considered state property by the Swedish government.

    Director Gil Cardinal combines interviews, striking imagery and rare footage of master carvers to raise questions about ownership and the meaning of Indigenous objects held in museums.

  • In the Shadow of Gold Mountain
    2004|43 min

    Filmmaker Karen Cho travels from Montreal to Vancouver to uncover stories from the last survivors of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act, a set of laws imposed to single out the Chinese as unwanted immigrants to Canada from 1885 to 1947. Through a combination of history, poetry and raw emotion, this documentary sheds light on an era that shaped the identity of generations.

  • Speakers for the Dead

    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.

  • The Jews of Winnipeg
    1973|27 min

    This short documentary tells the story of the first Jewish settlers to Winnipeg, people who fled European persecution at the turn of the century and founded a new community in a Canadian city.

  • Race Is a Four-Letter Word
    campus 2006 | 55 min

    In this personal documentary, director Sobaz Benjamin introduces us to an interesting group of people: a black woman who wants to be considered iconically Canadian, a white man who is culturally and psychologically black, and a black woman who decides to leave “Canada’s racial cold war.” He also exposes himself, a black man who grew up trying to bleach his skin. In the end, Race Is a Four-Letter Word teaches us that the soul has no colour. Yet, we also learn that race is a marathon we are all forced to run.

  • Now Is the Time
    2019|16 min

    When internationally renowned Haida carver Robert Davidson was only 22 years old, he carved the first new totem pole on British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii in almost a century. On the 50th anniversary of the pole’s raising, Haida filmmaker Christopher Auchter steps easily through history to revisit that day in August 1969, when the entire village of Old Massett gathered to celebrate the event that would signal the rebirth of the Haida spirit.