Special Interest Films


Canada on TV

(2015) Director: Clement Virgo. Screenwriters: Clement Virgo, Lawrence Hill, based on his book. Starring: Aunjanue Ellis, Lyriq Bent, Ben Chaplin, Allan Hawco, Cuba Gooding, Jr. 265 minutes in six 44-minute episodes. NRThis CBC mini-series is based on the internationally celebrated novel by Canadian author Lawrence Hill. A compelling tale of loss, courage, love and the triumph of the human spirit, it follows the extraordinary journey of Aminata Diallo (Ellis), an indomitable African woman.In 1750, 11-year-old Aminata is kidnapped from her village in West Africa and begins a rich journey that takes her through the harrowing ordeal of slavery, to the turmoil of the American Revolution and ultimately to freedom in the British colony of Nova Scotia. Brilliant and determined, Aminata is a remarkable heroine whose unshakeable connection to her own African heritage guides her over unimaginable obstacles in her quest for freedom and ultimately allows her to assume the mantle of leadership for which she is destined. Deeply moving and inspiring, The Book of Negroes explores painful historical realities through the unblinking eyes of a strong female protagonist whose story will stay with you long after the telling.

CLEMENT VIRGO Virgo rose to prominence with his first feature film Rude, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and subsequently garnered two Genie nominations. Other notable titles include Poor Boy’s Game and Lie with Me, along with episodes of hit TV shows The Wire, Regenesis and The Listener.

LAWRENCE HILL A member of the Order of Canada, Hill is the author of 10 books. The Book of Negroes earned the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, and CBC’s 2009 Canada Reads competition. His latest novel, The Illegal, was released in the fall of 2015.

(2002) Creator/Executive Producer: Mark Starowicz. Director of Research: Gene Allen. Senior Writers: Mark Starowicz, Gene Allen, Gordon Henderson, Hubert Gendron. 33 hours. PG (both English and French available)Dramatic and gripping, this popular series illustrates pivotal moments in Canada’s history, using eyewitness accounts to bring a compelling intimacy to grand historic developments. From the stories passed down through Native oral tradition to the first encounters between Indigenous peoples and Europeans, through the battles that engulfed the continent for centuries and the formation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867, to the modern era of feminism, multiculturalism and globalization, this captivating series brings to life many of the moments that have shaped our nation, telling Canada’s story through the eyes of the people who lived it.Canada: A People’s History won the Gemini Award for Best Documentary Series.The show is a collaborative production between the CBC and Radio-Canada, and as such, it is a fully bilingual series, available in both English and French.

Students can explore Canadian history even further by delving into the series’ award-winning website (, which features behind-the-scenes footage, games, puzzles, lesson plans and links to other historical resources.

MARK STAROWICZ, CREATOR An Officer of the Order of Canada, Starowicz worked at the CBC for more than 40 years. He is the creator of some of the CBC’s most successful programs, including CBC Radio’s As It Happens and Sunday Morning and CBC Television’s The Journal.

GENE ALLEN, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH Allen has a Ph.D in Canadian history and over 20 years’ experience as a journalist, including senior positions at The Globe and Mail and with the award-winning CBC series Dawn of the Eye.

Special Interest Films

(2004) Director: Ali Kazimi. 87 minutes. PGThis inventive docudrama explores the exclusionary politics behind Canada’s historic Continuous Journey regulation, which kept the 376 Indian passengers of the Komagata Maru sequestered at sea for over two months in this infamous standoff of 1914.
(2012) Director: Patrick Reed. 83 minutes. English, French, Kinyarwanda, Lingala, Swahili, Zande. PGIn 1994 General Roméo Dallaire was on the ground in Rwanda as a genocide unfolded. He returned to Canada haunted by these memories, and has found a new mission: to end the use of child soldiers around the world. In this important and affecting documentary, Dallaire travels across Africa and North America talking with child soldiers, self-defense groups, militia leaders and those trying to help these children. As he searches for solutions to this horrific practice, animated sequences are interspersed to add the first-person voice of Michel Chikwanine, a former child soldier, who recounts a chilling story that makes it clear why this work is so crucial.
(2011) Director: Jordan Paterson. Writers: Jordan Paterson, Paul Yeung, Denise Fong. 46 minutes. NRThis fascinating documentary contrasts the historical injustices faced by Chinese migrants over the last century with the experiences of contemporary Chinese Canadian youth. Focusing on past discriminatory immigration policies, the film reflects on the meaning of prejudice and exclusion to those who experienced it and those who did not. By calling attention to the diverse nature of contemporary Chinese Canadian identities, the film paints an inclusive and diverse picture of Canada as a nation.

JORDAN PATERSON Vancouver-based Paterson’s credits include the short docs The Three of Portugal and Sanctuary. He is now writing and directing the mini-series China on the Western Front. From C to C was nominated for three Geminis and five Leos.

my-prairie-home-1 MY PRAIRIE HOME
(2013) Director-Writer: Chelsea McMullan. 76 minutes. NRSet against the backdrop of the Canadian Prairies, Alberta-born singer/songwriter Rae Spoon takes us on the musical journey of a trans person’s coming of age in an evangelical household.
(2012) Director/Writer: Velcrow Ripper. With Amr Adel, Angaagaq Angakkorsuaq, Colin Beavan. 84 minutes. NRThis inspiring documentary captures the heart of a movement that is sweeping the planet in response to current global economic and environmental crises. The apparently fearless filmmaker Velcrow Ripper travels around the world to film a series of popular uprisings — the Arab Spring in Egypt, Spain’s Indignado movement, Occupy Wall Street — asking the question “Is it possible to understand these crises as a kind of love story?” This poignant documentary explores what Martin Luther King Jr. called “love in action,” searching for the meaning and importance of the love of humanity and of the planet.“…the photography is beautiful, the scenes of crowds and their signs arresting, and the interviews with individual protesters — in Tahrir Square, Zuccotti Park, tear-gassed Oakland, and even melting Greenland — are often inspiring.” — Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice

VELCROW RIPPER Ripper’s feature debut, Bones of the Forest, won Best of the Festival at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and a Genie for Best Documentary. Ripper is perhaps best known for his award-winning Fierce Love trilogy: ScaredSacred, Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action and Occupy Love.

Feature-revolution REVOLUTION
(2012) Director: Rob Stewart. 85 minutes. PGIn this powerful follow-up to his acclaimed documentary Sharkwater, Rob Stewart discovers that sharks aren’t the only ones in danger — climate change has a devastating impact on human life as well. Striking and vibrant landscapes are juxtaposed with startling proof that significant damage has already been done. At the same time, Stewart finds immense hope in the dedicated and passionate youth whose efforts are changing our future for the better.

ROB STEWART A Toronto native, Stewart is an award-winning journalist who spent four years travelling through 15 countries to shoot his debut documentary, Sharkwater, which has won awards at festivals worldwide.

(2012) Director-Writer: Karen Cho. 87 minutes. NRThis striking, in-depth documentary pays homage to Canada’s feminist forerunners and raises important questions about where and how we should move on from here.
(2011) Directors: Michèle Hozer, Peter Raymont. 95 minutes. NRTom Thomson was an artist who greatly influenced the Group of Seven and is one of Canada’s most beloved painters. In 1917, at the peak of his creativity, he disappeared while canoeing. His body was found, but his death remains a mystery. Through his paintings, archival footage and newly-discovered audio recordings, this beautiful documentary explores this brilliant artist’s life — and death.

“As gorgeous as the iconic artist’s paintings.” — Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen

PETER RAYMONT & MICHÈLE HOZER Raymont has produced and directed over 100 documentaries, including Shake Hands with the Devil. Hozer has been an editor for 25 years; West Wind is her sophomore directorial effort.

Feature-World Before THE WORLD BEFORE HER
(2012) Director/Writer: Nisha Pahuja. 90 minutes. PG (English and Hindi with English subtitles)Ruhi Singh attends an intense beauty boot camp as a contestant in the Miss India pageant, a surefire path to fame. Meanwhile, Prachi Trivedi works at a very different kind of camp, run by militant Hindu nationalists, where young girls train to combat western influences. Moving between the two camps, this lively and provocative documentary paints a dramatic story of the obstacles that each woman faces as she tries to make a difference in her society.

NISHA PAHUJA Pahuja’s other credits include Bollywood Bound and Diamond Road. The World Before Her earned Best Canadian Feature at Hot Docs and made TIFF’s list of Canada’s Top 10 films in 2012.

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