International Women’s Day
With International Women’s Day approaching, inspire the young women (and men) in your classroom with this diverse collection of films that place female talent and stories at the forefront.
ANGRY INUK (85 min)
2016. Director: Alethea Arnaquq-Baril (Inuk). Writer: Alethea Arnaquq-Baril (Inuk).
We all know about the terrible “brutality” of the arctic seal hunt — or do we? Turns out there’s more to this story: families that need to be fed, a hunting practice that began centuries ago and a tradition central to the economy and food security of Inuit communities in the Canadian Arctic. Angry Inuk is a story that’s over 4,000 years old. The seal hunt is not exactly a laughing matter, but humour and technical savvy go a long way to debunk certain claims. Wryly tackling both misinformation and aggressive appeals to emotion, Inuk filmmaker Arnaquq-Baril equips herself and her community with the powers of social media — and yes, #sealfies — to reframe a controversial topic as a cultural issue in this 2016 Audience Award-winning Hot Docs hit.
ANTIGONE (109 min)
2019. Director: Sophie Deraspe. Writer: Sophie Deraspe.
In her last year of high school, straight-A student Antigone (Ricci) finds her life suddenly overturned when one of her brothers is murdered by a police officer, while the other is arrested. Having lived in Montreal since arriving as a refugee with her family over a decade ago, Antigone faces a terrible choice. She wants desperately to help her brother in prison, but doing so will not only put her promising future in jeopardy, but also her ability to stay in Canada. As her story becomes a media sensation, Antigone becomes a symbol for a movement of justice, as she makes a decision that will change her life forever.
THE BREADWINNER (94 min)
2017. Director: Nora Twomey. Writer: Anita Doron, Deborah Ellis.
Parvana (Saara Chaudry) is an 11-year-old girl growing up under Taliban rule in Afghanistan in 2001. When her father is wrongfully arrested, Parvana cuts off her hair and dresses like a boy in order to be able to get a job and help to support her family. Working alongside her friend Shauzia, Parvana discovers a new world of freedom and danger. With courage and imagination, Parvana draws strength from the fantastical stories she invents, as she embarks on a quest to find her father and reunite her family.
KAYAK TO KLEMTU (90 min)
2018. Director: Zoe Leigh Hopkins (Heiltsuk/Mohawk) Writers: Zoe Leigh Hopkins, Michael Sparaga
When a prominent Kitasoo/Xai’Xais activist passes away, his 14-year-old niece Ella (Blaney) embarks on a kayak journey to take his ashes home to Klemtu. It’s a race against the clock as Ella tries to make it back in time to give a speech protesting a proposed pipeline that would cross Indigenous land. Ella is joined by her aunt, cousin and grumpy uncle (Cardinal), as the four paddle with all their might through the Inside Passage and past the shores of the Great Bear Rainforest. Join this family on the adventure of a lifetime that reflects on the importance of protecting our lands for future generations. Winner of the 2017 imagineNATIVE Audience Choice Award.
MAMAN EST CHEZ LE COIFFEUR (97 min)
2008. Director: Léa Pool Writer: Isabelle Hébert
It’s summer, 1966. The sun is shining, and the world is full of possibilities. But for 15-year-old Élise (Fortier), there’s trouble brewing under the surface of her happy home life. When a shocking discovery causes her mother to leave the family, everyone is stunned. Amidst the chaos, Élise decides that it’s up to her to step up and fix things. While her dad and two brothers retreat into their own inner worlds, Élise remains undeterred. As she tries to keep her family’s troubles a secret, Élise discovers that nobody around her has a life as perfect as it seems at first glance. It’s not exactly what Élise bargained for, but it’ll be a summer unlike any other.
MAUDIE (115 min)
2016. Director: Aisling Walsh. Writer: Sherry White
Maudie is based on the true story of Nova Scotia painter Maud Lewis, who overcame the physical challenge of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis to become one of Canada’s best known and most loved folk artists.The fragile but determined Maudie (Hawkins) yearns for independence from her over-protective family and dreams of creating art. When she answers an ad for a housekeeper placed by a reclusive fish seller (Hawke), she gains more than just the freedom she wanted, as the unlikely pair develops a relationship that is intensely intimate and just as challenging.
A touching and inspiring story about following one’s dreams in spite of life’s obstacles, Maudie is an absolute charmer.
MEDITATION PARK (94 min)
2017. Director & Writer: Mina Shum
Maria (Cheng), the matriarch of a Chinese-Canadian family, reveres her workaholic husband Bing for the sacrifices he has made for their family, and worries about her similarly overworked daughter (Oh, in a brilliant performance). When Maria begins to suspect that Bing is having an affair, she is forced to confront the harsh reality that her world may not be what it seemed. Wrestling with what to do, Maria embarks on a journey of self-discovery and befriends a group of local eccentrics and a grumpy neighbour (McKellar), who make her realize that everyone’s lives are more complicated than she has been led to believe.
NEW WATERFORD GIRL (97 min)
2000. Director: Allan Moyle. Writer: Tricia Fish
Mooney Pottie (Balaban) is a 15-year-old misfit who will do anything to get out of dreary New Waterford, N.S. Lou Benzoa (Spencer-Nairn) is a tough girl from the Bronx who couldn’t be happier to be moving to the seaside hamlet. Lou is as extroverted and impulsive as Mooney is shy and withdrawn, and soon their unlikely friendship starts turning the town upside down. Lou wins over the local girls by punishing their two-timing boyfriends, while Mooney plans a new life in New York City. Hilarious and exuberant, New Waterford Girl paints a touching picture of coming-of-age in a small town.
SABAH (90 min)
2005. Director & Writer: Ruba Nadda.
Sabah (Khanjian) is a 40-year-old single immigrant from Syria living in Toronto with her family. Since her father’s death she’s been living under her brother Majid’s authority and helping to take care of her mother. Sabah swims at the local pool (an activity her brother disapproves of) and one day meets Stephen (Doyle), a charming man with whom she shares an unexpected spark. The problem is: she’s Muslim and he is not. Keeping the relationship a secret from her traditional family, Sabah decides to step out from her family’s control and allow herself to fall in love.
WATER (114 min)
2005. Director & Writer: Deepa Mehta.
Deepa Mehta’s Water is the conclusion to her intensely emotional and beautiful Elements trilogy. Set in India during the rise of Mahatma Gandhi, Water recounts the story of Chuyia (Kariyawasam), a child bride. When her husband dies suddenly, Chuyia is forced to live in an ashram for Hindu widows, essentially cut off from society. Fortunately, she finds friends in the beautiful Kilyani (Ray) and in the forward-thinking Narayan (Abraham). With their help, Chuyia attempts to escape the confines of her existence.
WINDOW HORSES (88 min)
2016. Director: Anne Marie Fleming.
This extraordinary animated feature tells the tale of Rosie, a young Canadian poet of Chinese and Persian descent. Rosie lives in Vancouver with her Chinese grandparents and dreams of travelling and seeing the world. When she receives an invitation to a poetry festival in Shiraz, Iran, Rosie embarks on a journey that unravels a personal mystery and brings her closer to her Persian roots. Voiced by an all-star cast including Sandra Oh, Ellen Page and Don McKellar, Window Horses is a beautiful and poignant story about family, imagination, culture and finding your own voice.
THE WORLD BEFORE HER (90 min)
2012. Director & Writer: Nisha Pahuja
Ruhi Singh is on her way to Bombay to participate in an intense beauty boot camp as a contestant in the Miss India pageant, the country’s ultimate glamour event. Winning the coveted title means instant stardom, a lucrative career path and, for some girls, freedom from the constraints of a patriarchal society. Meanwhile, just a few hours away, Prachi Trivedi works at a very different kind of camp – one run by a militant Hindu nationalist group, 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 each woman faces. Through dramatic vérité action and unprecedented behind-the-scenes access, The World Before Her sweeps back the curtain to reveal the intimate stories of young women determined to make a difference in their society.
MÉMÉRE MÉTISSE (30 min)
2008. Director: Janelle Wookey (Métis)
A young filmmaker explores her family’s past as she schemes to convince her grandmother to
accept her Métis heritage. Wookey’s mischievous persistence uncovers a legacy of shame and the profound courage needed to overcome it.
NO FISH WHERE TO GO (12 min)
2014. Directors: Nicola Lemay, Janice Nadeau
This compassionate animation looks at the consequences of war through the lens of two little girls who become friends despite their upbringing in opposing clans.
VIOLA DESMOND IS ON THE MONEY (22 min)
2019. Directors: Pat Jeflyn and Kim Kristy
Lesley McCurdy discusses her one woman show about unheralded but historically important Black Canadian women, including Viola Desmond, an icon of Canada’s civil rights movement, and the face on the country’s new ten dollar bill.
This month also includes Francophone Week (La semaine de la francophonie!), and we’ve got an exciting collection of French-language Canadian films to help you celebrate. Whether you’re teaching French immersion, core French, or just want to mix things up in your English-language classroom – bon visionnement!
BON COP BAD COP (116 min)
2006. Director: Érik Canuel. Writers: Leila Basen, Alex Epstein, Patrick Huard, Kevin Tierney
A box-office smash, Bon Cop Bad Cop is an action-packed comedy about two policemen who are thrown together to solve a crime committed on the border between Quebec and Ontario. Ward (Feore) and Bouchard (Huard) couldn’t be more different: one is an English-speaker from Toronto, the other is a French speaker from Montreal; one never deviates from established procedure, the other is a rebel who refuses to play by the rules. The detectives soon learn that if they are to solve this lurid crime, which is linked to the world of hockey, they need to stop bickering and work together. With uproarious performances from both leads, Bon Cop Bad Cop is a genuinely clever take on the buddy-cop genre that will keep you captivated throughout.
2013. Director: Daniel Roby Writer: Sylvain Guy
In the late 19th century, after years of delighting crowds with astounding feats of strength, Louis Cyr was considered the strongest man in the world. Based on his true story, this charming biopic recounts the many successes, heartbreaks and obstacles — both inside and out of the athletic arena — that Cyr faced on his climb from obscurity to international fame. Cyr’s best friend recounts the story to the strongman’s estranged daughter, and shares with us the fascinating life of this Quebec hero.
MAURICE RICHARD (THE ROCKET) (124 min)
2005. Director: Charles Binamé & Writer: Ken Scott.
The Rocket traces the meteoric rise of hockey legend Maurice Richard (Dupuis), from his humble beginnings as a Montreal machinist during the Depression to star of the Canadiens and the greatest scorer in hockey. But this is much more than a sports movie. Director Charles Binamé frames the story in a cultural context: It isn’t until Richard, a man of few words, begins to speak his mind about the inequalities and prejudice directed toward French Canadians that he finds his voice. Many feel that the riots caused by Richard’s suspension in 1955 were the spark that fuelled the Quiet Revolution in Quebec. Nominated for 13 Genie Awards and winner of nine, this hockey blockbuster is chock-full of heart and history.
MENTEUR (COMPULSIVE LIAR) (111 min)
2019. Director: Émile Gaudreault. Writer: Émile Gaudreault, Eric K. Boulianne
Simon’s friends and family have had enough of his compulsive lying. They try to stage an intervention for him but he refuses to accept that he has a problem. All of that changes when he wakes up to a bizarre reality where all of his lies and excuses have become true. His boss is a raving drunk, his sister-in-law is in love with him and basically, everything that could go wrong does. While everyone around him seems to think this reality is normal, his brother knows the truth and convinces him that the only way that everything can get back to normal is for him to kick his habit for good.
LE CHEMIN ROUGE/ RED PATH (15 min)
2015. Director: Thérèse Ottawa (Atikamekw)
This moving documentary tells the story of Tony Chachai, a young man who goes on a journey to reconnect with his Atikamekw roots by dancing in powwows.
LE TECHNICIEN/THE TECHNICIAN (7 min)
2009. Director: Simon Olivier Fecteau
After a customer complains that his television is broken because it only shows bad news, a cable repairman sets out to solve the problem.
THE LITTLE BEAR MOVIE (75 min)
2001. Director: Raymond Jafelice. Writers: Nancy Barr, Raymond Jafelice.
While on a camping trip, Little Bear and his father find a lost cub who has been separated from his parents by a storm. The two become fast friends, and after Cub saves Little Bear from a mountain lion named Trouble, the pair return to Little Bear’s house to meet his pals Cat, Owl, Duck and Hen. The group of friends set out on an exciting adventure to find Cub’s parents.
LA COURSE DES TUQUES (89 min)
2018. Directors: Benoît Godbout, François Brisson Writers: Claude Landry, Maxime Landry, Paul Risacher
This fun and action-packed sequel is a wild romp through the trials and tribulations, passionate joys and little victories of childhood. Frankie and Sophie are teaming up for a spectacular sled race through the village, and this time they’ve got some new friends along for the ride, including the mysterious Zac and his musical cousin Charly.
2015. Director: Richard Ciupka Writer: Dominique Demers
The newest supply teacher at St-Cécile Elementary School, known only as Miss C, is undeniably unusual. This was apparent from the moment she arrives at the school, soaked from head to toe while speaking to a small rock. With her boundless spirit and unparalleled imagination, Miss C. reinvigorates her class of students, and the school as a whole, by encouraging every child to embrace what makes them unique.
APRIL AND THE EXTRAORDINARY WORLD (105 min)
2015. Directors: Christian Desmares, Franck Ekinci Writers: Franck Ekinci, Benjamin Legrand.
It’s 1941 in an alternative history of Europe, where pollution has ravaged the world and technology has not progressed since the steam engine. A brilliant teenage girl named April (voiced by Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard), who lives on the streets of Paris, has been trying to find her parents, scientists who disappeared while working on a top secret project. Her search lands her deep in a sinister criminal plot. Luckily, she is joined on her adventure by her grandfather, her talking cat Darwin and a mysterious boy named Julius. Together, this band of unlikely heroes might just save the world. Crafted in stunning animation, this imaginative adventure story will thrill audiences of all ages.