Human Rights

Human Rights

The Canadian Human Rights Act passed by Parliament in 1977 prohibits discrimination against a person or persons based on their race, ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, family status or disability. In this curated playlist, we explore some of the best films dealing with these inalienable, fundamental rights to which all persons are entitled.

Albert Ohayon

Having viewed over 8,000 films, Albert Ohayon is our resident collections expert. He studied film production and journalism at Concordia University in Montreal and has been working at the National Film Board since 1984.

  • Fat Chance
    1994|1 h 12 min

    This documentary follows Rick Zakowich as he faces his lifelong struggles with his weight and body image. Child therapist by day and blues singer by night, Rick's charisma and talent are undeniable, yet he remains fixed within the definition of a narrow label. The film takes on appearance-based oppression and fat-shaming by examining the ways in which society treats people whose bodies don’t necessarily match a narrow, unrealistic ideal of attractiveness. Instead of losing weight, Rick gains valuable insight, transformative new friendships, and a profound sense of self-confidence.

  • The Tree That Remembers
    2002|50 min

    In 1992 a young Iranian student hanged himself on the outskirts of a small Ontario town. Having escaped the Ayatollah's regime and found a new home in Canada, he could not escape his past. In this film, Masoud Raouf documents the experiences of Iranian-Canadians - former political prisoners like himself - who were active in the Iranian democratic movement and continue to struggle with the past.

    For more background information about this film, please visit the NFB.ca blog.

  • The Colour of Beauty
    2010|17 min

    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.

  • Every Child
    1979|6 min

    This animated short follows an unwanted baby who is passed from house to house until he is taken in and cared for by two homeless men. The film is the Canadian contribution to an hour-long feature film celebrating UNESCO's Year of the Child (1979). It illustrates one of the ten principles of the Declaration of Children's Rights: every child is entitled to a name and a nationality. The film took home an Oscar® for Best Animated Short Film.

  • Last Chance
    2012|1 h 24 min

    This feature documentary tells the stories of 5 asylum seekers who flee their native countries to escape homophobic violence. They face hurdles integrating into Canada, fear deportation and anxiously await a decision that will change their lives forever.

  • Opre Roma: Gypsies in Canada
    1999|52 min

    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.

  • Finding Dawn
    2006|1 h 13 min

    Dawn Crey. Ramona Wilson. Daleen Kay Bosse. These are just three of the estimated 500 Indigenous women who have gone missing or been murdered in Canada over the past thirty years. Directed by acclaimed Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh, Finding Dawn is a compelling documentary that puts a human face to this national tragedy.

    This is an epic journey into the dark heart of Indigenous women's experience in Canada. From Vancouver's skid row, where more than 60 women are missing, we travel to the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia, and onward to Saskatoon, where the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women remain unresolved.

    Along the road to honour those who have passed, we uncover reason for hope. It lives in Indigenous rights activists Professor Janice Acoose and Fay Blaney. It drives events such as the annual Women's Memorial March in Vancouver and inspires communities all along the length of Highway 16 to come together to demand change.

    Finding Dawn illustrates the deep historical, social and economic factors that contribute to the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women in this country. It goes further to present the ultimate message that stopping the violence is everyone's responsibility.

  • Status Quo? The Unfinished Business of Feminism in Canada
    2012|1 h 27 min

    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.

  • Who Cares
    2012|1 h 19 min

    In this cinema vérité documentary, director Rosie Dransfeld captures the gritty and dangerous world of Edmonton's sex trade workers where, in a post-Pickton era, women now voluntarily provide police with DNA samples for future postmortem identification.

  • 19 Days
    2016|26 min

    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.