10 films to help bridge the cultural divide

10 films to help bridge the cultural divide

To celebrate the International Year of the Rapprochement of Cultures 2010, the NFB, with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, presents this playlist of NFB films to spark conversation about what we all have in common.

This playlist is made up of a collection of films from the perspectives of people from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Together these works promote the sharing of values and knowledge, and they give us a better understanding of one another's roots and of our common histories.

  • Vistas: Carrying Fire
    2009|3 min

    Carrying Fire 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: Crossing the Line
    2009|3 min

    Crossing the Line 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: 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 Aboriginal objects held in museums.

  • Shepherd's Pie and Sushi
    1998|45 min

    This documentary presents Mieko Ouchi, half Celtic, half Japanese... and all Canadian. In 1993, Mieko, an actor, began researching a documentary about her grandfather, Edward Ouchi, a Japanese immigrant to Canada. Then she was cast to star in The War Between Us, a film on the WWII internment of 22,000 Japanese Canadians--re-enacting a key episode in her own community's past. Part Canadian history, part autobiography and family chronicle, Shepherd's Pie and Sushi looks at complex questions of personal and cultural identity with a light touch.

  • 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.