Remembrance Day (November 11)
Remembrance Day specifically commemorates the end of World War I but is a wonderful opportunity to use movies as a way to talk to your students about wars and conflict in a broader context.
FORGOTTEN WARRIORS (105 min)
1997. Writer & Director: Loretta Todd (Cree/Métis).
This documentary introduces us to the thousands of Indigenous people who enlisted and fought for Canada alongside their countrymen and women during World War II, even though they could not be conscripted. While they fought for the freedom of others, they were being denied their rights in their own country. As a reward for fighting, the returning soldiers were allowed to buy land at a cheap price. However, many of the Indigenous soldiers were never told about the land entitlement, and some returned home to find the government had seized parts of their own reserve lands to compensate non-Indigenous veterans. Narrator Tootoosis gives a historical overview, while Indigenous veterans share their poignant and unforgettable war memories, and the ways in which they have healed.
HYENA ROAD (120 min)
2015. Writer & Director: Paul Gross.
Barren landscapes. Unseen enemies. Hyena Road depicts the recent war in Afghanistan, where peaceful peoples trying to live their lives find themselves caught in crossfire. Under the command of Captain Pete Mitchell (Gross), ace sniper Ryan Sanders (Sutherland) has caught word of a dangerous insurgency. Stopping it will take the cooperation of Afghan locals and the dogged efforts of Canadian troops. Showing how forces on either side can work together to prevent senseless tragedy, Hyena Road goes down a dusty, dirty, thunderous path. Hyena Road won three Canadian Screen Awards.
INSIDE HANA’S SUITCASE (88 min)
2009. Director: Larry Weinstein. Writer: Thomas Wallner.
Based on the internationally acclaimed book Hana’s Suitcase, this poignant documentary tells the tale of George and Hana Brady, two young children who grew up in pre-WWII Czechoslovakia, and the terrible hardships they endured because they were Jewish.
When Fumiko Ishioka, a teacher in Japan, requests artifacts from a Holocaust museum to illustrate the history of WWII to her students, one item she receives is a suitcase labelled “Hana Brady.” As she and her students unravel Hana’s story, the film seamlessly transports audiences through 70 years of history, back and forth across three continents.
PASSCHENDAELE (114 min)
2008. Writer & Director: Paul Gross.
Set during the height of World War I, Passchendaele tells the story of an important event in Canadian history through the eyes of Sgt. Michael Dunne (Gross), a soldier who is wounded in France and returns to his home in Calgary emotionally and physically scarred.
While recovering, Michael meets Sarah (Dhavernas) and becomes determined to win her heart. When Sarah’s asthmatic younger brother David (Dinicol) enlists to fight in the war, Michael returns to the battlefield in order to protect him. The two men are sent to fight against impossible odds in the battle of Passchendaele.
The film won six Genies, including Best Picture and Best Actor, for Paul Gross.
2018. Writer & Director: Barry Avrich.
The fascinating story of Ben Ferencz, a 98-year-old lawyer and last surviving prosecutor of Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg trials after World War Two. Ferencz grew up in New York, where he became a lawyer before enlisting in the Army. After seeing Nazi concentration camps first hand after liberation, then 27-year-old Ferencz became the lead prosecutor in what has been called the biggest murder trial in history. He went on to advocate for restitution for Jewish victims of the Holocaust and for the establishment of the International Criminal Court. His inspiring fight for justice continues today.
Directed with sensitivity and empathy, Prosecuting Evil sheds light on atrocities that should never be forgotten, and asks tough questions about the world we live in today.
REMEMBER (94 min)
2015. Director: Atom Agoyan. Writer: Benjamin August.
Thrilling yet emotionally powerful, Remember follows retired veteran Zev Guttman (Plummer), who is asked to fulfill his friend’s dying wish: to hunt down a Nazi that has escaped capture for decades following World War II, and thus close their painful, personal chapter of the Holocaust. But as Guttman suffers from memory loss, shining light on this history reveals secrets even darker than he could have expected.
A riveting journey that will keep you guessing until the very end, Remember’s engrossing twists and incredible performances are simply unforgettable.
UN SAC DE BILLES (113 min)
2017. Director: Christian Duguay. Writer(s): Christian Duguay, Jonathan Allouche, Benoît Guichard, Alexandra Geismar.
A heartwarming adaptation of Joseph Joffo’s novel, Un Sac de Billes follows 10-year-old Joseph (Le Clech), who is forced to leave his home in 1941 when Paris is invaded and occupied by German troops. Separated from his parents and with only his older brother to help him, Joseph must find a way to survive in the devastated French landscape in the Second World War. Joseph’s story is fraught with dangers, as he must disguise both his name and religion in order to have a chance of seeing his family again. Through his eyes, this emotional film shows the progression of the Second World War and its effect on the average citizen.
2005. Director: Peter Raymont.
Canadian Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire was in command of the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission to Rwanda in 1994, when a bloody genocide erupted. Over the course of 100 days, more than 800,000 Tutsis were killed by Hutus, the rival tribe in their country. Dallaire attempted to stop the killing by alerting the world through the United Nations and the international media. Though his attempts were unsuccessful, Dallaire emerged as a hero. Ten years later, Dallaire returns to Rwanda to personally commemorate the anniversary of that holocaust.
Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005.
Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week (November 15 to 21)
This week provides an opportunity to raise awareness about bullying and promote positive relationships and real-life solutions for youth. Broach this sensitive and highly relevant topic with your students by showing one of these films:
C.R.A.Z.Y. (127 min)
2005. Director: Jean-Marc Vallée. Writer(s): François Boulay, Jean-Marc Vallée.
A box-office blockbuster and winner of a whopping 11 Genies, C.R.A.Z.Y. is an infectious, entertaining coming-of-age drama. When Zac Beaulieu (Grondin) is born on December 25, 1960, it becomes clear that he is different from his four brothers. He vies desperately for attention and acceptance from both of his parents, but in particular, from his loving and old-fashioned father, Gervais (Côté). The film follows Zac over the next 30 years as life takes him on an epic journey to come to grips with his sexual identity. Buoyed by a vibrant soundtrack, C.R.A.Z.Y. boasts countless moments of true movie magic. It is at once a crowd-pleaser and a poignant and personal auteur film.
CITIZEN DUANE (90 min)
2006. Director: Michael Mabbott. Writer: Jonathan Sobol.
A quirky comedy with a lot of heart, Citizen Duane tells the tale of Duane Balfour (Smith), a teenager with big dreams born into a family of spectacular failures. What starts out as a simple schoolyard rivalry snowballs out of control when Duane decides to run for mayor of his tiny town of Ridgeway. To succeed, he must overcome not only powerful political opponents, but also his own insecurities. Duane’s favourite teacher (Fox), his girlfriend and even his mom try to dissuade him from his goal, but Duane’s irrepressible desire to challenge the powers that be is too strong. With the help of his misfit uncle (Logue), he just might stand a chance of becoming a credible candidate!
JEUNE JULIETTE (94 min)
2019. Writer & Director: Anne Émond.
Adolescence is a tough time for a lot of people. Take Juliette (Jamieson): On top of feeling misunderstood by her peers and her own family, she has to deal with her dad’s new bohemian girlfriend, her first crush on her older brother’s friend, and an increasing awareness that people see her as overweight. Good thing she has her best friend (Désilets), and a precocious young boy (Beaudet) whom she babysits to help her sort through the tumult of coming of age. This humorous and heartfelt fourth film from writer/director Anne Émond wonderfully captures the awkwardness and the pain of growing up, letting go, and learning to love yourself no matter what other people think.
MEATBALLS (93 min)
1979. Director: Ivan Reitman. Writer(s): Len Blum, Dan Goldberg, Janis Allen, Harold Ramis.
This ode to summer camp is a true Canadian classic and features Bill Murray in his first starring role. He plays Tripper, a prankster and a flirt who can’t help teasing his boss and the counsellors at the nearby rich-kids’ camp.
Everyone, including Tripper, is sick and tired of perennially losing the Camp Olympics. It’s only by encouraging all campers to try their hardest — including young Rudy (Makepeace), who has self-esteem issues — that Tripper and his troops can hope to emerge triumphant. Full of wacky pranks, lively hijinks and a lot of touching moments, Meatballs is sure to entertain audiences of all ages.
Meatballs won the Golden Reel Award for highest-grossing box office in 1980.
THE TROTSKY (120 min)
2009. Writer & Director: Jacob Tierney.
Leon Bronstein (Baruchel) isn’t an average Montreal high school student. For one thing, he’s convinced that he is the reincarnation of early-20th- century Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. When Leon starts a hunger strike in a clothing factory owned by his father (Rubinek), he is sent to public school as punishment. Leon sets out to change the world, immediately butting heads with his new principal (Feore). Getting his apathetic peers to stand up to the school’s repressive administration proves more difficult than Leon first imagines, leading him to resort to some extreme and often hilarious tactics.
IF I WAS GOD… (8 min)
2014. Director: Cordell Barker.
In this darkly whimsical animation from two-time Oscar-nominee Cordell Barker, a student dissecting a frog in his biology class daydreams about omnipotent powers.
ASSINI (13 min)
2015. Director: Gail Maurice (Cree/Métis).
Seven-year-old Assini and her friends often play Cowboys and Indians. But when Assini discovers that she herself is an “Indian,” the game takes a new turn.