For Viola Bnr Rev

For Viola

A new and important screening series centering Black, Indigenous, and People Of Colour (BIPOC)-led stories and filmmakers, named in honour of Canadian civil rights icon Viola Desmond. The series seeks to affirm Hot Docs as a space of inclusion for BIPOC creators and audience members alike.

In order to minimize barriers to audience participation, all presentations in this series will be free of charge.

While For Viola will always be presented free of charge, please consider a $10 donation in recognition of the value of the work presented, and in honour of Viola Desmond, featured on the $10 banknote. As a non-profit, Hot Docs relies on donations to continue to develop and expand inclusive programming. Half the proceeds from all donations will be shared directly with the filmmakers, who also receive screening fees. Thank you for your consideration.

<< Return to Hot Docs’ Anti-Racism statement.

Who Was Viola Desmond?
Viola Desmond (1914–1965) was a Black Nova Scotian entrepreneur and pioneer in the struggle against anti-Black racism in Canada. In 1946, Desmond was arrested and jailed when she refused to leave the whites-only seating area of a Nova Scotia cinema and was subsequently convicted and fined. In one of the first known legal challenges to racial segregation in Canada, she fought to overturn her conviction. Though her conviction was not reversed in her lifetime, she received a posthumous pardon from the Nova Scotia government in 2010.

Now Playing

Is The Crown At War

Is the Crown at war with us?

  • Canada
  • 96
  • Alanis Obomsawin

As tensions over Indigenous lobster fishery in Eastern Canada reached a boiling point this past year, revisit a key moment in this long dispute through the lens of Alanis Obomsawin, one of the most acclaimed Indigenous filmmakers in the world. It was the summer of 2000 and the country watched with disbelief as federal fishery officers appeared to wage war against the Mi'kmaq First Nation of Esgenoôpetitj (Burnt Church), New Brunswick. Why would government officials attack citizens for exercising rights that had already been affirmed by the highest court of the land? Casting her cinematic and intellectual nets into history to provide context, Obomsawin unravels the complex roots of the conflict with passion and clarity, building a persuasive defence of the Mi'kmaq position.

Past Films

In My Blood 1

In My Blood It Runs

  • Australia
  • 85
  • PG
  • Maya Newell

Dujuan is a 10-year-old Arrernte boy from Mparntwe (Alice Springs) in Australia. Full of life and exuberance, he learns to hunt, speak two Indigenous languages and become a healer. But within the country’s colonial school system, the aspiring leader’s strength and intellect go unnoticed. As Dujuan faces failing grades and increased scrutiny from welfare and police, his loving family fight to maintain strong Aboriginal teachings alongside western education, lest he becomes another statistic. A Hot Docs 2019 favourite, this powerful coming-of-age film will take you on an emotional journey through the fight to mend the educational schism between traditional culture and colonial ideas, and solidify a future for the youth.

For Viola Lessons Injustice460

Lessons Injustice (Short Documentary)

  • Canada
  • 9
  • Karen Chapman

A father sets out on a car ride with his teenage son and reflects on the conversation he knows he will soon have to have: how to conduct himself as a young black man in Canadian society.

Unarmed Verses

Unarmed Verses

  • Canada
  • 86
  • Charles Officer

12-year old Francine Valentine uses creative expression to help endure struggles as her family faces eviction from their Toronto home in this award-winning festival hit from director Charles Officer.

Two Gods 1

Two Gods

  • USA
  • 85
  • Zeshawn Ali

Filmed in gorgeous black-and-white in Newark, New Jersey, director Zeshawn Ali’s astonishing debut tells the story of Hanif, a Muslim casket maker who spends his days ritually cleaning and preparing the bodies of his brothers in faith for burial. Active within the community, Hanif takes it upon himself to mentor two young men: Furquan, a confident 12-year-old who comes from a rough home, and Naz, a 17-year-old running with the wrong crowd. Through the rituals of death, he teachers the young men to embrace life in a powerful coming-of-age meditation on faith, brotherhood and redemption.

For Viola is supported by


All >

Presenting Platinum Partner

  • logo Scotia Wealth Management

Founding Partner

  • logo Rogers

Signature Partner

  • logo CBC Docs

Presenting Partners

  • Logo Crave 2019
  • logo Netflix

Major Supporters

  • logo telefilm
  • logo tourism_Celebrate-Ontario