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Docs For Schools 2017

D: Jon Shenk, Bonni Cohen | USA | 2016 | 95 min
Winner, Docs For Schools Students’ Choice Award 2016
Subjects: English, Equity, Diversity & Social Justice, Gender Studies, Family Studies, Health, Intro AP&S, Media Arts, Media Studies
Given the nature of content, the film will be sensitive to some students.
For teenagers living in a digital world, assault and bullying exist in a constant 24-hour loop. Audrie and Daisy, two high school girls living in separate towns in America, were sexually assaulted by boys they knew and considered friends. Their assaults were documented and shared, and the girls faced public shaming in the aftermath, leading to devastating emotional costs. But the stories of these two girls go well beyond their particular incidents - theirs is the chilling reality of a modern age that cycles traumas from basement parties to Facebook posts. There is also incredible power in the stories of Audrie and Daisy, a power to speak publicly against such abuses and social trends. By giving voice to these girls and all those who’ve shared similar pains and consequences, a community of support and understanding is built. They are the voices that deserve to be heard the most. Gabor Pertic, Hot Docs

D: Lana Šlezić | Canada | 2016 | 78 min
Ahtahkakoop First Nation is a world away from Toronto in so many ways, but for Grade 5 student Thomas Isbister it’s a journey he’s keen to make to represent his school and community. Through Saskatchewan’s first province-wide First Nations Spelling Bee, Thomas and many others have an opportunity to compete against the nation’s best. There’s one way to spell success, but many ways to define it. The tensions of the competitions are highly compelling cinema, but the heart of the film lies with the families and teachers. They’ve built an empowering support system, challenging policies of inequity and refusing to limit their children’s options. As Chief Kahkewistahaw Community School principal Evan Taypotat says, “Never judge a person ‘til you’ve walked a mile in their moccasins.” Bee Nation highlights kids who have dedicated themselves to their education in an inspiring story that encourages us all to be our best selves. Alexander Rogalski, Hot Docs

D: David Alvarado, Jason Sussberg | USA | 2017 | 101 min
There’s an entire generation of kids who share a common science teacher. Clad in his signature bowties, Bill Nye could break down complicated ideas and theories through accessible, creative and fun segments on his wildly popular TV show. His relentless pursuit of educating audiences about how the world works has now evolved into a much more serious endeavour. There’s a dangerous wave of people in power whose fundamental lack of scientific reasoning is causing destruction to the planet we all inhabit. As a public figure, Bill is now taking every opportunity he can to openly call out and debate those who are twisting facts or outright denying them. His role as the Science Guy has critics questioning his legitimacy, but Bill’s mission has always been the same: educating people on the importance of science. And those lessons are becoming increasingly vital, no matter what age you are. Gabor Pertic, Hot Docs

D: Eva Omer | Australia | 2016 | 96 min In English, Dari, Farsi and Arabic, with English subtitles.
Subjects: Canadian & World Issues, Canadian Law & World Politics, Challenge & Change in Society, Civic & Citizenship, English, Equity, Diversity & Social Justice, World Cultures, World Geography
Asylum-seekers from around the world continue to risk their lives by embarking on dangerous boat crossings in search of safe harbour. But what happens when the destination is as unwelcoming as the dangers left behind? Australia has implemented some of the harshest immigration laws in the world, and Eva Orner’s unflinching new film exposes the impact of these policies, which see asylum-seekers detained in isolated island facilities and left in stateless limbo, sometimes for years. Shocking never-before-seen footage from inside the facilities, obtained by anonymous sources using hidden cameras, reveals the desperation and despair of the detainees, along with the feelings of powerlessness from those hired to oversee them. As reports of sexual and physical abuse surface, greater questions arise about a country whose leaders choose detention over compassion, and who deprive the desperate of their basic human rights. Shane Smith, Hot Docs

D: Jeff Orlowski | USA | 2016 | 93 min
Rainforests of the sea, coral reefs are home to millions of species, acting as majestic underwater ecosystems vital to oceanic life—and ultimately, human survival. Despite their biodiversity, they remain vulnerable to coral bleaching, a deadly phenomenon caused by the warmer water temperatures of climate change. In this riveting follow-up to the award-winning glacier erosion epic Chasing Ice, director Jeff Orlowski joins a former ad executive, a self-proclaimed “coral nerd” and distinguished marine biologists and camera engineers as they embark on a breathtaking ocean adventure to capture the progressive degradation of mass bleaching events. Through several cameras skillfully submerged across the world’s tropical oceans, the team arduously battles technical challenges to reveal spectacular, irrefutable time-lapse footage of the catastrophic destruction happening underwater. With its impressive balance of artistry, suspense and urgency, Chasing Coral poignantly reveals the imminent ecological dangers threatening the globe. Shaka Licorish, Hot Docs

D: Jeff Orlowski | USA | 2012 | 75 min
Subjects: Languages, Science, Civics, English, Geography, Photography, Politics
This visually stunning film follows renowned National Geographic photographer James Balog on a harsh Arctic expedition where he captures a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers—undeniable evidence that our planet is in crisis.

D: George Kurian | Norway | 2015 | 55 min
Arabic with English Subtitles
Subjects: Languages, Challenge & Change, Civics, English, Equity Studies, Law, Media Arts, Politics, World Issues, World Geography
In this vivid chronicle of a humanitarian crisis, cameras accompany a group of remarkably optimistic middle-class Syrian families forced into extraordinary choices as they risk smugglers, death and indifference in a desperate bid for freedom.

D: Craig Atkinson | USA |2016 | 70 min
Mature - recommended for high school classes discussing similar content.
A shocking exposé that crosses the United States to reveal the heavily militarized face of policing and the insidious racism that lies just below the surface. With unfettered front line views, we see aggressive SWAT raids that uncover the most meager offenses, overbearing control of legal demonstrations, Orwellian aerial surveillance operations, fascistic police training seminars and statisticians flirting dangerously close to “pre-crime” law enforcement all coalesce into a dangerous pattern. There’s a vicious cycle, where the social unrest caused by police brutality is used as justification for increased spending on even more dangerous weapons and draconian police strategies. Focusing on the impact of militarized policing on the most vulnerable populations—poor black Americans—this far-reaching doc conveys that when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

D: Peter Bratt | USA | 2017 | 98 min
In English, some Spanish with English subtitles.
Dolores Huerta can easily be called one of the most important activists in American history. As the co-founder of the first farm workers’ union in America, which developed into the famed United Farm Workers, Dolores’s involvement and contribution is often overshadowed by Cesar Chavez’s legacy even though she was his equal partner. In this seminal film, Dolores finally gets the attention she and her lifetime of fighting for social equality deserve. Normally a private person, now in her 80s, Dolores opens up about her life and personal struggles. Through powerful archival footage and captivating interviews with important figures such as Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton and Luis Valdez, the film presents a comprehensive look at 50 years of the radical social and cultural movements—from brown power and feminism to LGBTQ rights and environmental justice—paying long overdue homage to Dolores and her decades of activism. Heather Haynes, Hot Docs

D: Elisa Paloschi | Canada | 2016 | 52
In Kannada with English subtitles
Subjects: Grade 7/8 Languages, Dynamics of Human Relationships, English, Equity, Diversity & Social Justice, Family Studies, Gender Studies, Intro AP&S, Law, Media Arts, Politics, World Cultures, World History, World Religions
Selvi, like so many girls living within India’s patriarchal culture, is forced to marry at a young age, only to find herself in a violent and abusive marriage. One day in deep despair, she chooses to escape, going to a highway with the intention of throwing herself under the wheels of a bus. Instead she gets on the bus, choosing to live, and goes on to become South India’s first female taxi driver. We first meet 18-year-old Selvi at a girls shelter in 2004—timid, soft-spoken, a fresh runaway from a difficult life. Over a ten-year journey, we see a remarkable transformation as Selvi finds her voice and defies all expectations—learning to drive, starting her own taxi company, leading seminars to educate other women and much more. This character-driven story highlights the challenges that millions of devalued women and girls in India face. In a society where women are often considered expendable or worthless, Selvi refuses to accept this estimation for herself, moving beyond the pain she’s experienced to create an entirely new life.

D: Tonje Hessen Schei | Norway | 2015 | 78 min & 58 min
Pashto/Urdu/Eng. Subtitles, some profanity/graphic imagery.
Subjects: Challenge & Change in Society, Civics, Economics, English, Equity, Diversity & Social Justice, Law, Media Arts, Philosophy, World Issues, World History
The armed drone is the defining weapon in the war on terror—and one of the most controversial. First praised for surgical precision, laser-like focus and a capacity to reduce collateral damage—the drone has come to represent a reckless industrialized killing program reviled across the world. This includes the development of “militainment” programs—in which video-games are basically used as both a recruiting tool and a means of making military violence appear as an innocuous part of everyday life. Featuring survivors and those who live under constant threat of drone strikes, activist lawyers attempting to use international courts to stop the program, military analysts who still maintain their efficacy and Brandon Bryant, a former drone pilot turned vocal critic, Drone offers an absorbing and revelatory perspective on this disturbing weaponry. Eli Horwatt, Hot Docs

D: Stephanie Soechtig | USA | 2014 | 60 min
Subjects: Languages, American History, Civics, Economics, English, Family Studies, Food & Nutrition, Health & Physical Education, Intro AP&S, Media Arts, Media Studies, Politics, Science
Combining the personal stories of three families struggling with weight issues with a provocative and revealing exposé of the food industry, Fed Up will turn your perspective on diet, nutrition and health inside out.

D: Landon Van Soest, Jermy S. Levine | USA | 2016 | 90 min
When 17-year-old Daje winds up in juvenile court and risks expulsion from high school, we quickly learn she’s one of many Black youth caught in the school-to-prison pipeline. Living in St. Louis, Missouri, she faces an uncertain future growing up in a marginalized neighbourhood surrounded by gun violence, police brutality and a biased criminal justice system. In this powerful and intimate coming of age story, a pathway opens when Daje is placed in an alternative high school and love blossoms with classmate Antonio. But just as things seem hopeful, events in Ferguson break open with the shooting of Michael Brown, and Antonio finds himself drawn into the criminal justice system. Daje, discovering she’s pregnant, questions how she’ll protect her new family in a world and system that’s set up for them to fail. Heather Haynes, Hot Docs

D: Rich Williamson | Canada | 2016 | 29 min
Subjects: Civics, English, Equity & Social Justice, Law, Media Studies, Media Arts, Intro AP&S, Politics, World Geography, World Issues
Frame 394 profiles an eccentric young man from Toronto who, through the power of the internet, manages to entangle himself in one of America’s most high-profile police shooting cases.

D: Nathan Drillot, Jeff Petry | Canada | 2016 | 12 min
Subjects: Languages, Visual Arts, Challenge & Change, English, Equity Studies, Diversity & Social Justice, Gender Studies, Intro AP&S, Law, Media Arts, Visual Arts
Handsome & Majestic follows the story of Milan Halikowski, a teenager from the rural city of Prince George, BC. As a recently transitioned transgender boy, Milan deals with discrimination and abuse from his peers and teachers at school, as he seeks to find other kids like himself. Throughout these hardships, he becomes a role model and an advocate for trans people in his small community.

D: Sandy Chronopoulos | USA, Canada | 2016 | 87 min
As good looking and stylish as its subject, House of Z is a portrait of the artist as a young man. Famously well connected, Zac Posen rode a rocket ship to fame and success at the age of 21. But his is a cautionary tale of what happens to those whose PR machines are steps ahead of reality. As quickly as the handsome Zac made a name for himself, he found himself on the receiving end of damaging gossip, bad reviews and dropping sales. Told with the help of a star-studded cast, including Puff Daddy, Naomi Campbell and Claire Danes, this all-access story charts the rise and fall—and rise again—of a fashion world wunderkind. Aisha Jamal, Hot Docs

D: Alexandra Bombach | USA | 2016 | 15 min
English, Farsi with English subtitles
Subjects: Grade 7/8 Languages, Canadian History, Challenge & Change in Society, Equity, Diversity & Social Justice, Geography, Media Arts, Origins & Citizenship, Politics, World Issues, World Cultures, World History
Director Alexandria Bombach explores the question: “How do you make the wrenching decision of whether to leave your homeland?” Helena Saboori remains positive and pursues her passions, accepting the risks of staying in Afghanistan. Omaid Sharifi wrestles with his decision to stay, but uses his art to make a positive change. Arash Seddique chooses to leave after receiving a special immigrant visa to the United States, while Rana and Wahid Qaderi make the decision to embark on a dangerous journey, leaving financial stability and their home in hopes of finding peace for their five children.

D: Joe Piscatella | USA, Hong Kong | 2016 | 78 min
In English and Cantonese, with English subtitles.
When he was just 18, Time magazine named Joshua Wong “the face of protest” after he formed the student organization Scholarism in protest of the Chinese national education plan, a plan that violated the “one country, two systems” promises made when Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997. Joe Piscatella’s gripping and lively David and Goliath tale was a hit at Sundance—and for good reason. Piscatella captures civil disobedience in its truest form. What started out as a group of peaceful high school students skipping school turned into a coalition with Occupy Central. Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong Chinese stood on the front lines and forced the Communist regime to step back. Absorbing Wong’s unassailable spirit and focused intensity allows you to feel like you’re there, witnessing the birth of a great leader in what many call a watershed moment in Hong Kong history. Ravi Srinivasan, Hot Docs

D: Matthew Cassel | USA | 2016 | 73 min
Arabic with English Subtitles
Subjects: Grade 7/8 Languages, Civic & Citizenship, English, Equity, Diversity & Social Justice, Geography, Media Arts, World Issues
This multi-part documentary follows the treacherous, 1,700-mile migration of a Syrian refugee who fled the perils of wartime Damascus to build a better life for his family. More than a million people whose lives have been upended by desperation and violence in Syria have made similar journeys, but most of these treks take place in obscurity. Aboud Shalhoub was joined by the filmmaker Matthew Cassel, who documented—and participated in—the perilous migration in 2015. Cassel’s colleague Simon Safieh stayed in Damascus with Aboud’s wife, Christine, and his two children. The series captures Aboud’s long trip to the Netherlands, the family’s attempts to reunite, and the tide of nationalist sentiment sweeping across northern Europe.

D: Min Sook Lee | Canada | 2016 | 88 min
In English, Indonesian and Spanish, with English subtitles.
Subjects: Languages, Challenge & Change, English, Equity & Social Justice, Geography, History, Law, World Issues, World Politics
Deceptive brokers and systemic exploitation are starkly exposed in this stirring story of two courageous Indonesian women caught in Canada’s migrant worker program, fighting for basic rights in the face of debt bondage and low paying work.

D: Louie Psihoyos| USA | 2015 | 90 min
Oscar®-winning director Louie Psihoyos (The Cove) embarks on an urgent mission to save endangered species in Racing Extinction. Never-before-seen images and footage reveal just how close we are to causing mass extinction, potentially losing half of all species by the end of the century. Using covert tactics and state-of-the-art technology, the team delves into the two worlds driving extinction—the dangerous international black-market trade of endangered wildlife and the disastrous environmental consequences of human activity. Emotional and inspiring, Racing Extinction is a wakeup call to preserve a thriving planet before it’s too late.

D: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami | USA | 2015 | 90 min
Suitable for Grades 7–12; In English and Farsi, with English subtitles.
Eighteen-year-old Sonita is an Afghan refugee in Iran, a passionate music lover in a culture where women are forbidden to sing. When she attempts to launch a career as a rapper, her conservative family intervenes. Desperate for money and shocked by her musical aspirations, they summon her back to Afghanistan to be sold into an arranged marriage. Creative ambition must overcome oppressive tradition in this powerful and inspirational film, the winner of an Audience Award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. When director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami takes Sonita on a suspenseful cross-border journey in pursuit of a U.S. scholarship, this charismatic young woman must learn to defy her family’s expectations and channel her frustrations into rousing song. Sonita is an uplifting film, a soaring portrait of an extraordinary young woman discovering the power of her voice.

D: Amanda Lipitz | USA | 2016 | 83 min
Winner—2017 Docs For Schools Student Choice Award
“Step is life!” More than just a hobby for a trio of high school seniors at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, the step team represents an escape and an outlet, a way out and a way to express themselves. Step is a moving chronicle of the trials and triumphs of visionary choreographer Blessin, overachieving introvert Cori and smart cookie Tayla as they prepare to be part of the school’s first-ever graduating class, and (fingers crossed) the first in their families to go to college. The key to their success and drive comes from stepping, which provides incomparable lessons in sisterhood, teamwork and having a winning attitude. But realizing their dreams of college admission and state championships amidst poverty, violence and adolescent temptations like boys and booze will require more than just fancy footwork. In step, as in life, you must fight if you want to win. Angie Driscoll, Hot Docs

D: Julia Dahr, Kisilu Musya | UK, Norway | 2017 | 87 min
Kenyan farmer Kisilu Musya records climate change’s roller-coaster ride of flash floods and devastating droughts. For the past five years, he’s kept a video diary documenting the damaging effects of wild weather on his family’s life and livelihood. Convinced that planting trees is the answer to counteracting global warming in his community, Kisilu organizes local farmer groups, makes endless presentations and, with the support of his wife and Norwegian filmmaker Julia Dahr, takes his message all the way to the COP—the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change. But is anyone listening? This emotional, earnest and essential film about climate change is driven by Kisilu’s point of view. It gives voice to a natural leader who expects politicians to be doing as much as he is—to care and to be interested in hearing from those directly affected by the environmental transformations taking place on this planet we all share. Angie Driscoll, Hot Docs

D: Charles Officer | Canada | 2016 | 86 min
Toronto Community Housing’s Villaways neighbourhood was built in the 1970s in an isolated and marginalized part of the city. It’s been designated for redevelopment between 2016 and 2019, and during construction all the current residents will be relocated. The revitalization promises a fresh start, but for those who call Villaways home, the transition is a major disruption amidst their ongoing struggles. For Francine Valentine, an insightful 12-year-old growing up in the area, her world revolves around her friends and family. By joining the local Arts Starts’s Up & Rooted music program she embraces the opportunity to express herself with honesty and beauty. Entering her adolescent years, Francine has already witnessed the hard realities that surround her and other teenage kids. Both the program and the film share that unique perspective. Through her words and following her daily routines, Charles Officer has created a poetic work of cinema that transcends social observation. Alexander Rogalski, Hot Docs

D: Beth Murphy | USA | 2016 | 89 min
In Dari and English, with English subtitles
Subjects: Grade 7/8 Languages, Equity, Diversity & Social Justice, Family Studies, Gender Studies, Intro AP&S, Law, World Cultures, World History, World Issues
In a remote village in Afghanistan is an all-female school, founded and led by spirited humanitarian Razia Jan. In a nation where education for young women is difficult to access and the dropout numbers are high, Jan puts literacy at the forefront, encouraging the girls in their pursuit of knowledge, independence and understanding. Her initiatives are progressive, and her young students embrace the opportunities to learn about their history in hopes of building a better future for themselves and their country. In the midst of many complications, from the influences of the Taliban to international government forces, Jan’s school for young female students offers optimism for future generations. Filmmaker Beth Murphy takes her cameras inside the school walls and beyond, giving unfiltered insights to an evolving educational process that affects not only the girls, but the village as a whole. Gabor Pertic, Hot Docs

D: Marc Silver | UK, Mexico | 2013 | 85 min
English and Spanish with English subtitles
Subjects: Challenge & Change, English, Equity Studies, Intro AP&S, History, Law, Media Arts, Politics, World Geography, World Issues
High school grades only. Some scenes of bodies found in desert may be disturbing.
Arizona’s desert claims another migrant’s life. With only the tattoo “Dayani Cristal” as a clue, a search begins across the continent to discover his identity and the people he may have left behind. With Gael García Bernal.

D: Nathan Drillot, Jeff Petry | Canada | 2016 | 98 min
Subjects: Languages, Dynamics of Human Relationships, Economics, English, Equity Studies, Family Studies, Intro AP&S, Human Development, Media Arts
Combo! Meet one of the world’s top pinball players, an earnest and well-liked young man whose single-minded skill is a function of autism—both limiting and expanding his ability to interact in the world as he rises in international rankings.

D: Anthony Baxter | UK | 2016 | 80 min
Subjects: Civics, Economics, English, Equity & Social Justice, Intro AP&S, Law, Media Studies, Media Arts, Politics, Geography, Travel & Tourism, World Issues
This timely and explosive film explores the fascinating and deeply troubling confrontation between a feisty 92-year-old Scottish widow and her family and a billionaire attempting to become the most powerful man in the world.

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