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Docs For Schools 2018

D: Mohamed Siam | Lebanon, Egypt, France, Germany, Norway, Denmark | 2017 | 83 min | PG

Just 14 at the time of Egypt’s Tahrir Square revolution, Amal bravely took to the streets shouting for change, demanding her voice be heard. We meet her just after her boyfriend is killed and she is violently assaulted by armed police. Scarred by injustice, she doesn’t yet know the political and personal consequences of her early taste of rebellion. As filmmaker Mohamed Siam follows her over the next six years, he chronicles not only an unguarded young girl’s coming of age but a country’s parallel struggle towards freedom. Headstrong and full of anger, Amal lashes out at her less dissident mother, her suffocating friends and the patriarchy that still surrounds her. As the democratic hopes of the revolution begin to wane, she must also face the realities of a girl asserting herself in an Arab police state. Her name literally translating to “hope,” Amal is a young woman undeterred. Myrocia Watamaniuk

D: Frida Mock | USA | 2013 | 76 min | STC
Mature content. Discussion, Q&A w/Trevor Mayoh after film (bio below blurb)

#metoo It’s time to introduce students to Anita Hill. In 1991, Anita Hill’s powerful testimony at the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas brought sexual harassment into America’s national spotlight. Twenty years later, Ms. Hill revisits those hearings and for the first time on film speaks about the grueling nine-hour experience of confronting an all-white male jury who demonstrated little sensitivity towards sexual harassment. A sometimes painful and shocking look back, she reflects on how that testimony shaped her life and consequently a nation. This is a must-see film, particularly for young women, for the understanding it offers on how these historic hearings treated sexual harassment and how dismissively it was viewed by the public.

Trevor Mayoh is a diversity, inclusion, and violence prevention professional who works on transformative projects with young adults in diverse regions and sectors around the world. He has worked with colleges and universities across Ontario on violence prevention initiatives—partnering with student groups, administration, and campus communities to develop and execute specialized programming. Previously, Trevor worked with White Ribbon, the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity. He is a regular commentator on Newstalk 1010 programs and has been featured in numerous print, radio, and television media across the country.

D: Matthieu Rytz | Canada | 2018 | 77 min | PG

The Pacific Island nation of Kiribati consists of 33 low-lying isles and atolls. The country is so remote that many islanders hoped its location would keep it immune from global turmoil—but scientific research estimates Kiribati will be completely underwater within this century. Through multiple lenses, Anote’s Ark looks at the climate change predicament facing this unique country. We meet former president Anote Tong, who desperately asks during a speech at the UN Human Rights Council, “Who do we appeal to and turn to for our people to survive?” On a more intimate level, the film tells the story of Sermary, a young mother of three, seeking a new life for her family in New Zealand. Through these two stories, Anote’s Ark balances the personal with the political and presents us with an ambitious and layered film about an undeniable climate change calamity.

D: Don Argott | USA | 2017 | 101 min | PG

Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds has it all: a hugely successful career, a beautiful family, fame and fortune. But as the devoutly Mormon musician learned about the increasing suicide rate amongst LGBTQ youth in Utah, often as a result of church policies, he realized his faith and his beliefs were at odds. Teaming up with openly gay Mormon performer Tyler Glenn, lead singer of Neon Trees, they created LoveLoud, a music festival designed to build bridges and spark dialogue between the church and the LGBTQ community. Believer drops us into the intense lead-up to the event, filled with frantic planning sessions, roadblocks thrown up by external forces and heartbreaking meetings with the youth affected by the church’s unwavering objection to their sexual orientation. A powerful story of standing up for what you believe in and using your voice to amplify those unheard, Believer reminds us that through listening, learning and collaborating, acceptance and change are possible.

D: Michelle St. John | Canada | 2016 | 44 min | STC

Colonization Road discusses the roads built by the colonial government to bring settlers across the country, connect them with resources to create industry and create a nation. Many of these interconnecting roadways are actually named Colonization Road. Colonization Road follows Anishinaabe comedian Ryan McMahon as he travels across Ontario speaking to Indigenous and settler lawyers, historians, researchers and policy makers who provide history, context and solutions for colonization roads and their impact on Indigenous peoples. Along the way, the film sheds light on treaties and what the process of reconciliation will demand of settlers in the country we now call Canada.

D: Max Powers | USA | 2018 | 96 min | PG

The upstart Bowery Slam Poetry Team, made up of five African-American, Afro-Hispanic and queer poets in their 20s, prepares for the national championships. Mentored by a demanding coach who encourages them to push past their personal boundaries and write from a place of vulnerability, pain and honesty, the poets break down, break through and compose their best work ever. Timely and difficult, their spoken word slays—but will these soul-searching pieces about police violence and the whitewashing of Black culture be able to compete against choreographed crowd-pleasers for the title? Will opting to make a statement instead of a show spell their defeat? An emotional and inspiring film that gives insightful commentary on race, gender, identity and sexual politics in America today, Don’t Be Nice is both an absorbing competition doc and a vital writer’s workshop that proves once and for all that winning hearts and minds is the ultimate prize.

DRIVING WITH SELVI D: Elisa Paloschi | Canada, UK | 2015 | 52 min | STC

Selvi is a charming, strong and utterly courageous young woman who happens to be South India’s first female taxi driver. Selvi was forced to marry at a young age, only to find herself in a violent and abusive marriage. One day, in a desperate bid to escape, she fled to a highway with the intention of throwing herself under a bus—instead, she hailed the bus and started her remarkable journey. Over a 10-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 educational seminars and much more.

D: Julia Meltzer | USA | 2017 | 14 min | STC

A short from the feature length film Dayla’s Other Country. Dalya Zeno is a Syrian teen living in in LA with her mom. Unlike most immigrants, when Dalya was very young her family lived in the US and she obtained US citizenship. Her family returned to Syria, but when the war began Dalya and her mom moved to LA. Dalya does enjoy privilege. She knows the language and the culture, but she still faces many of the same challenges of other young immigrants: the struggle to adapt, to fit in yet maintain her own identity, to live in the present.

D: Patrick Reed & Michelle Shephard | Canada | 2015 | 48 min | STC

Omar Khadr: child soldier or unrepentant terrorist? The 28-year-old Canadian has been a polarizing figure since he was 15. This documentary delivers an intimate portrait of how a teenager from a Toronto suburb became the centre of one of the first US war crimes trial since the prosecution of Nazi commanders in the 1940s. Khadr is the only juvenile ever tried for war crimes. Guantanamo’s Child gives Omar Khadr the opportunity to speak for himself on camera, for the first time. Based in part on Michelle Shephard’s authoritative book Guantanamo’s Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr, the documentary takes us from his childhood travelling between a Canadian suburb and Peshawar at the height of the jihad against the Soviets, to Afghanistan and the homes of Al Qaeda’s elite, into the notorious US prisons at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay and back again to Canada. Finally, his story, in his own words.

D: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk | USA | 2017 | 98 min | G
Includes Q&A with Ziya Tong, co-host of Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet.

As the consequences of climate change continue to threaten the future of the planet, former U.S. vice president Al Gore is urgently trying to keep the energy revolution on its feet and this vital conversation alive. He pursues the empowering notion that, while the stakes have never been higher, the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion. He sees real signs of hope in the leaps and bounds made over the last decade—but is crucially aware that progress could slow without dedicated support from government. Ten years after introducing the terrifying spectre of climate change to mass culture with Oscar-winning doc An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore returns with another impassioned plea.

D: Lisa Jackson Shane Belcourt | Canada | 2017 | 44 min | STC

Winner of the Alanis Obomsawin Award at the imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival, Indictment is a complex and fascinating true crime story that raises important questions about Canada’s justice system. Sensationalized in the international media as a high-profile catfishing scheme involving Shelly Chartier, a reclusive Indigenous woman from Easterville, Manitoba, NBA all-star player Chris Anderson and Paris Dunn, a 17-year-old model with whom he had an affair, the film weaves together interviews with Chartier, the people close to her, Dunn, psychologists and legal experts in order to gain insight into the woman behind the crime, as well as the effects of colonialism on her community. The filmmakers reveal the softer side of Chartier by exploring her relationship with her husband and the redemptive journey she is still on, humanizing someone who has been portrayed by the media as an evil mastermind.

D: Vivian Belik; Karen Chapman; Ariel Nasr & Aisha Jamal; Khoa Lê; Patrick Reed & Andréa Schmidt; Jérémie Wookey & Annick Marion | Canada | 2017 | 88 min | STC

Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms gets six fresh perspectives with In the Name of All Canadians, a compilation of short documentaries commissioned by Hot Docs. From Indigenous rights to the controversial “notwithstanding clause,” participating filmmakers take the Charter’s key tenets off the page and into the lived experiences of the country we call home.

D: Laura Nix | USA | 2018 | 105 min | PG

With the planet facing multiple environmental threats, brilliant young minds from around the world are working on innovative solutions to stave off crises in their communities. The brightest of these students have one destination in mind to showcase their work: the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest high school science competition. Focusing on a small handful of teens representing Hawaii, Indonesia and India, Inventing Tomorrow follows their journeys as they work out the intricate mechanics of their presentations in the lead-up to the competition. These students represent the hope and ingenuity of a burgeoning generation; winning the competition may be their immediate goal, but changing the world for the better is the ultimate prize.

D: Kahane Cooperman | USA | 2016 | 24 min | STC

In 1946, 23-year-old Holocaust survivor Joseph Feingold exchanged a carton of cigarettes for a violin at a flea market in Germany. Seventy years later, Joe makes a simple decision about his violin that changes not only his life, but also the life of another young musician. Together, the two of them discover the illuminating power of a single musical instrument.

D: Aaron Schock | USA, Mexico | 2016 | 40 min | STC

Deep in the rainforest of southern Mexico, a pair of Mayan boys run free among the relics of their ancient civilization. In their village school, however, 12-year-old Yu’uk and 8-year-old José find themselves lost in a world they can’t fully comprehend, governed by a language they can’t fully grasp. In this breathtaking coming-of-age film, Emmy-nominated director Aaron Schock crafts an immersive, visually stunning portrait of a childhood on the margins of Mexican society. As Yu’uk prepares to leave the local school, the future of his family and his Indigenous community hangs in the balance. La Laguna is an unforgettable story about a boy on the cusp of adulthood and a society on the cusp of change.

D: Steve Loveridge | USA | 2018 | 97 min | 14A

Mathangi Arulpragasam started out with a yearning to make films. As a teenaged immigrant in London, she was fascinated by her family history and the political turmoil of her homeland of Sri Lanka. As the years went on, her artistic expressions would shape her into the genre-bending music star M.I.A. Her unique sound, bold style and controversial, outspoken activism made her into a worldwide sensation. Admirers and critics latched on to lyrics, videos—and a single finger that caused a multi-million-dollar lawsuit. Through it all, she maintained her rebellious spirit, much to the delight of her fans and the scorn of her detractors. Assembling countless hours of M.I.A.’s own footage alongside music videos, interviews and concert performances, her lifelong friend Steve Loveridge has created an exhilarating mash-up that showcases the many forms of a polarizing and fascinating pop culture figure.

D: Amit Virmani | Singapore, India | 2009 | 63 min | STC

Some folks squirm at mention of a woman’s period…not Arunachalam Muruganantham. Considered a madman and pervert by his community, he ignores his detractors and makes his dream—low-cost sanitary pads made by and for rural Indian women—a reality. Using manually operated machines, Muruganantham’s microbusiness model is focused on something more important than profits: providing sustainable employment, hygiene and emancipation to women who would otherwise go without. He’s a man with a million-dollar idea—except money has nothing to do with it. His goal is to make a livelihood, not to accumulate wealth; to operate at a human scale, not a multinational one. Menstrual Man is the inspiring story of a hero who rises above poverty and a lack of education to become a superstar social entrepreneur in the business of breaking cultural taboos and re-inventing the economic pyramid.

D: David Sington, Heather Walsh | Ireland | 2018 | 80 min | PG

As the space race ramped up in the late 1950s, NASA scoured the country for potential astronaut trainees in hopes of flying Americans higher than ever before. “First man in space” was a coveted title sought by many pilots across the country. But another search—and a top-secret training program—was also taking place. After initially selecting seven men for the program, NASA called upon 13 women to take part in a series of tests to see if they too could have “the right stuff.” Undergoing the same rigorous mental, physical and medical examinations as their male counterparts, these pioneering women worked diligently to defy norms. Incorporating fascinating archival footage alongside interviews with women who took part in the program, the story of the little-known Mercury 13 finally comes to light.

D: Cynthia Lowen | USA | 2018 | 97 min | 14A

The internet is the largest public space we find ourselves in—and it has become a battleground. From award-winning director Cynthia Lowen comes an explosive documentary exposing the victims caught between the fight for freedom of speech and high-profile privacy invasion and harassment. Digital abuse, although carried out through the invisibility cloak of the internet, is still abuse and women have had their lives destroyed as a result. Online death and rape threats, privacy violations, stalking, impersonation, non-consensual pornography and more have caused women to silently suffer through lost jobs, thwarted educations and countless hours devoted to containing attacks against a backdrop of mounting legal fees and psychological distress. Anita Sarkeesian (feminist media critic, blogger and public speaker), Tina Reine (activist and survivor), Carrie Goldberg (victims’ rights attorney) and Elisabeth Aultman (producer) courageously tell their stories of confronting and overcoming harassment as they work to transform policy to make the web a safer place.

D: Sonia Bonspille-Boileau | Canada | 2015 | 44 min | STC

The Oka Legacy examines how the 78-day Oka Crisis transformed Indigenous identity in Canada. Seen partly through Mohawk filmmaker Sonia Bonspille-Boileau’s own personal journey, the film also retraces the events that took place in her hometown of Kanehsatake in 1990 by talking with people who lived through the events firsthand, such as Kanehsatake residents Clifton Nicholas and Waneek Horn-Miller, as well as with those who overcame grief, such as Francine Lemay whose brother Marcel died during the crisis. The film also features Indigenous community activists, such as Melissa Mollen-Dupuis, who were inspired to do great things in other parts of the country after the events of 1990. These compelling characters recount their own personal Oka Crisis stories, reflecting on what Oka’s legacy is—and what it should be.

D: Alexandria Bombach | USA | 2018 | 94 min | PG
WINNER - Scotiabank Docs For Schools Student Choice Award

Having seen and experienced the atrocities committed against the Yazidi community in Iraq, Nadia Murad becomes the reluctant but powerful voice of her people in a crusade to get the world to finally pay attention to the genocide taking place. The 23-year-old survived repeated sexual assaults and bore witness to the ruthless murders of her loved ones. Now, her bravery to speak openly is put to the test daily as reporters, politicians and activists push for her to recount her past. As difficult as it is for her to continually revisit her trauma, she powers forward, fighting for justice and the greater good of all those who are suffering in her community. Nadia’s testimonials and speeches command attention and action, showcasing the incredible courage it takes to come forward and speak up in the most difficult of circumstances.

D: Catherine Bainbridge, Alfonso Maiorana | Canada | 2017 | 102 min | STC
Intro by Duke Redbird, Elder & Curator of Indigenous Art and Culture, TDSB

Winner of the Hot Docs Audience Award and Rogers Audience Award for Best Canadian Documentary, Rumble reveals an essential and, until now, missing chapter in the history of popular music: the Indigenous influence. Lifting the veil on the enormous impact made by First Nations and Native American musicians including Robbie Robertson, Link Wray, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Charley Patton, Jimi Hendrix, Jesse Ed Davis and more, Rumble celebrates their genre-changing and undeniably catchy influence. Blending audio archives, concert footage and interviews with industry icons from Tony Bennett to Steven Tyler and Martin Scorsese, this Hot Docs hit and Sundance award-winner is an unforgettable and political exploration of a musical history that was silenced for too long.

D: Charles Officer | Canada | 2017 | 44 min | STC

Urgent, controversial, and undeniably honest, the film The Skin We’re In is a wake-up call to complacent Canadians. Racism is here. It is everywhere. We follow Desmond Cole as he researches his hotly anticipated book and as he pulls back the curtain on race in Canada.

D: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami | Iran, Germany, Switzerland | 2015 | 90 min | STC

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. 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. Winner of an Audience Award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, Sonita is a soaring portrait of an extraordinary young woman discovering the power of her voice.

D: Bill Guttentag | USA, France, UK | 2009 | 82 min | STC

Tells the story of the American civil rights movement through its powerful music - the freedom songs protesters sang on picket lines, in mass meetings, and in jail cells as they fought for justice and equality. Features new performances of the freedom songs by top artists; archival footage; and interviews with civil rights foot soldiers and leaders. Freedom songs evolved from slave chants, from the labor movement, and especially from the black church. Music enabled blacks to sing words they could not say, and it was crucial in helping the protesters as they faced down brutal aggression with dignity and non-violence. The infectious energy of the songs swept people up and empowered them to fight for their rights. This film celebrates the vitality of this music.

D: Jason Benjamin | USA | 2016 | 74 min | STC
Clothes have a profound impact on how we see ourselves and navigate the world, no matter how we gender-identify. Welcome to Bindle & Keep, a Brooklyn tailoring company that fills a niche making custom suits for gender-nonconforming and transgender clients. Founder Daniel Friedman originally planned to make his fortune tailoring suits for wealthy Wall Streeters, but it was the smart (and snappily suited) Rae Tutera, born Rachel, who expanded the company’s reach to those who have a hard time finding suiting from more traditional sources. The film introduces us to several Bindle & Keep clients as they select their fabric, cut and colour while sharing what it’s like to live as transgender or gender non-conforming in America today. From the fear of being found out, to losing job opportunities, to finding love and the perfect wedding suit, their personal stories underscore how notions of fashion, appearance and identity are profoundly intertwined.

D: Norah Shapiro | USA | 2018 | 88 min | PG

Rising political star Ilhan Omar, a charismatic Somali Muslim and young mother of three, seeks election to the Minnesota House of Representatives. Can she unseat the 43-year female incumbent, defeat the Somali male candidate she previously worked for, and beat back increasing Islamophobia under Trump Nation? Filmmaker Norah Shapiro chronicles the hard-fought three-way race for state representative in the United States’ largest Somali community. With tension and urgency, she shows how gender bias, cultural tradition and fake news play a part in all levels of contemporary American politics. As much a campaign drama as a personal portrait, Time for Ilhan stresses the need for citizens to exercise their right to vote, the importance of passion and oratory skills for leadership, and how essential it is to a community and country of immigrants that government representation be diverse. Women, especially women of colour, can and should run—the world!

D: Cullen Hoback | USA | 2017 | 60 min | STC

What begins as a few cases of smelly tap water in West Virginia quickly streams into a stinking tide of unprecedented failure to protect America’s drinking water in filmmaker Cullen Hoback’s latest exposé. On the heels of his unsettling look at the deterioration of privacy in Terms and Conditions, he turns his investigative focus to the increasingly private interests that control public water. Hoback’s dogged research turns up jaw-dropping disregard for science and human safety from chemical companies. But as the crisis in Flint, Michigan, deepens he arrives at more damning sources of contamination: the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control. The very regulatory agencies and government officials sworn to safeguard the country’s most vital resource may now be as corrosive as the chemicals poisoning the public. Provocative and scandalous, What Lies Upstream is a social justice watershed.

D: Sabaah Folayan, Damon Davis | USA | 2017 | 90 min | PG
Told by the activists and leaders who were in the thick of this movement for racial justice, Whose Streets? is a raw and unflinching look at the uprising in Ferguson, Missouri, after unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed in broad daylight by a white police officer. The incident was the breaking point for Ferguson residents, a town with a history of long-standing racial tension; where people of colour, who make up most of the population, are served by a glaringly white police force. Brown’s death prompted demonstrations, heavy-handed policing, violence and, eventually, national outcry. As the national guard descended on Ferguson with military grade weaponry, this film shows empowered parents, artists and teachers from across the country who unified as freedom fighters, becoming the torchbearers of a new resistance. An impassioned battle cry from a generation fighting for the right to live, it is an emotionally turbulent film that provides a ground-level look at this national tragedy, which was the catalyst to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Special Screening Links

Standing Rock, Part 1 (44 min)
Sacred Water: The people of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation of North and South Dakota fight to stop a pipeline from being built on their ancestral homeland.

Standing Rock, Part 2 (44 min)
Red Power: Over 5,000 Red Power warriors have descended on Standing Rock camp to stand in solidarity and protect tribal burial sites from the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Urban Rez (44 min)
Canada’s largest Urban Rez takes back the streets, battling the intergenerational effect of residential schools, poverty, high crime and violence directed at girls and women. TRAILER


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