Discover Quebec—from its big cities and rural areas to its small towns and remote communities—through a selection of films that shines a spotlight on the province’s hidden treasures and fascinating characters. Suitable for both primary and secondary level students, this playlist includes animated and documentary films. These seminal works from our collection address the topics that matter most, ranging from historical subjects to the most pressing issues of the day.
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.
Baggage opens the stage and turns the spotlight on newly arrived teenage immigrants studying at Paul-Gérin-Lajoie-d'Outremont High School in Montréal. Through drama workshops, theatre production and deeply personal interviews, the film gives voice to their stories of immigration and integration. Their accounts move between an "elsewhere" and a “before" to become a ”here and now". With a wisdom well beyond their years that will leave no one unmoved, these students share poignant narratives about their journeys with compelling emotion and a disarming level of authenticity.
This documentary pays tribute to a group of Canadians who took racism to court. They are Canada's unsung heroes in the fight for Black civil rights. Focusing on the 1930s to the 1950s, this film documents the struggle of 6 people who refused to accept inequality. Featured here, among others, are Viola Desmond, a woman who insisted on keeping her seat at the Roseland movie theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in 1946 rather than moving to the section normally reserved for the city's Black population, and Fred Christie, who took his case to the Supreme Court after being denied service at a Montreal tavern in 1936. These brave pioneers helped secure justice for all Canadians. Their stories deserve to be told.
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.
When Hydro-Québec announced its intention to proceed with the enormous James Bay II hydroelectric project, the 15,000 Cree who live in the region decided to stand up to the giant utility. With unprecedented access to key figures like Cree leader Matthew Coon Come and American environmental activist Robert Kennedy Jr., Power is the compelling, behind-the-scenes story of the Cree's five-year battle to save the Great Whale River and their traditional way of life.
In this short film, Inuk artist Asinnajaq plunges us into a sublime imaginary universe—14 minutes of luminescent, archive-inspired cinema that recast the present, past and future of her people in a radiant new light.Diving into the NFB’s vast archive, she parses the complicated cinematic representation of the Inuit, harvesting fleeting truths and fortuitous accidents from a range of sources—newsreels, propaganda, ethnographic docs, and work by Indigenous filmmakers. Embedding historic footage into original animation, she conjures up a vision of hope and beautiful possibility.
This feature documentary zooms in on a Grade 6 class in Quebec where a teacher is implementing an experimental teaching method aimed at preparing children to take up environmental challenges. Over the course of a year, Dominique Leduc’s students will learn to identify, analyze and resolve a problem that exists in their world. They also learn about the uncertainty faced by those who want change.
In this feature documentary, Richard Desjardins and Robert Monderie continue in the same provocative vein as their earlier Forest Alert, this time turning their lens on Canada's mining industry. Using striking images, rare archival footage and interviews, The Hole Story analyzes company profits and the impact of mining on the environment and workers’ health.
In the summer of 1953, the Canadian government relocated seven Inuit families from Northern Quebec to the High Arctic. They were promised an abundance of game and fish, with the assurance that if things didn't work out, they could return home after two years. Two years later, another 35 people joined them. There they suffered from hunger, extreme cold, sickness, alcoholism and poverty. It would be thirty years before any of them saw their ancestral lands again. Interviews with survivors are combined with archival footage and documents to tell the poignant story of a people whose lives were nearly destroyed by their own government's broken promises.
Released in 1969, this short documentary was one of the most influential and widely distributed productions made by the Indian Film Crew (IFC), the first all-Indigenous unit at the NFB. It documents a 1969 protest by the Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) of Akwesasne, a territory that straddles the Canada–U.S. border. When Canadian authorities prohibited the duty-free cross-border passage of personal purchases—a right established by the Jay Treaty of 1794—Kanien’kéhaka protesters blocked the international bridge between Ontario and New York State. Director Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell later became Grand Chief of Akwesasne. The film was formally credited to him in 2017. You Are on Indian Land screened extensively across the continent, helping to mobilize a new wave of Indigenous activism. It notably was shown at the 1970 occupation of Alcatraz.
Marcelle Ferron was a Quebec-born painter and stained glass maker, and a dominant figure in contemporary art in Quebec and Canada. Frequent stays in a dull, dark hospital room due to a childhood illness left her with a passion for light and colour that is evident in her abstract painting and modern stained glass creations.
In I Can Make Art Like Marcelle Ferron, students are exposed to contemporary abstract art and discover Ferron's luminous world. Inspired by her extraordinary art, they create their own works, experimenting with the texture and transparency of cellophane and paint.
Awash in colour and bold design, I Can Make Art Like Marcelle Ferron captures her passion and reinforces the important legacy of this groundbreaking artist.
I Can Make Art is a series of six short films that take a kids'-eye view on a diverse group of Canadian visual artists.
In July 1990, a dispute over a proposed golf course to be built on Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) lands in Oka, Quebec, set the stage for a historic confrontation that would grab international headlines and sear itself into the Canadian consciousness. Director Alanis Obomsawin—at times with a small crew, at times alone—spent 78 days behind Kanien’kéhaka lines filming the armed standoff between protestors, the Quebec police and the Canadian army. Released in 1993, this landmark documentary has been seen around the world, winning over a dozen international awards and making history at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it became the first documentary ever to win the Best Canadian Feature award. Jesse Wente, Director of Canada’s Indigenous Screen Office, has called it a “watershed film in the history of First Peoples cinema.”
Waterlife is a documentary film about the Great Lakes that follows the flow of the lakes' water from the Nipigon River to the Atlantic Ocean. The film's goal is to take viewers on a tour of an incredibly beautiful ecosystem that is facing complex challenges.
At the eastern edge of Canada, small fishing communities fight to survive. While teenagers see exile as their only option, the older generation refuses to accept the fate of the region. A Place of Tide and Time is a conversation between young and old about identity, opportunity and happiness.