One of the documentaries screening in this September’s HOT DOCS WEEKEND is a ‘celebration’ of Canada’s 150th IN THE NAME OF ALL CANADIANS. It comprises six shorts especially commissioned for Hot Docs, North America’s premier documentary festival. Produced by Dan Montgomery (Tower) the project aims to explore and embrace the spirit of Canada’s long history rooted in Colonialism, and its genuine multi-cultural and multi-lingual heritage but, sadly, seems to present a picture of a nation at odds with the ideals and inspirations of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The film opens with L’Inspecteur an enchanting hand drawn animation combined with an eerie score and elderly female talking heads expressing the efforts they had during their school years to preserve their French language and identity in Manitoba, where it had been suspended as a subject by an overzealous Government. French was re-introduced as a language of instruction in the late 1960s, after a ban of nearly fifty years. During this time francophones were able to rely on a network of dedicated people to preserve their language.
Best Memory features various Canadians discuss their personal interpretations of the words ‘Enter’ and ‘Exit’; ‘Anger’ and ‘Revolt’ with some lyrical and unexpected results.
As usual, Muslims feature heavily with a discussion on Canadian women on wearing the burqa and hijab. Aisha Jamal and Ariel Nasr’s The Long Way Home offers an emotive experience from Montreal citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik, who found himself imprisoned for three years when returning to Sudan for a family visit, evidencing the Harper government harsh refusal to intervene in a tragedy affecting one of their citizen.
Vivian Belik’s Last Resort is a dour but scenic piece examining the indigenous Ktunaxa Nation’s attempt to prevent developers trying to build a ski lodge on sacred land.
And last but not least, Karen Chapman’s segment Lessons Injustice takes us through a constant stream of unidentified streets and highways while a Black voice talks of his rights but not his responsibilities in a country that feels hostile and alienating to him and his child. Canada has a wealth of talented filmmakers who each year create outstanding features showcasing the nations’ cultural diversity and richness, but the narrative of this often maudlin documentary, seems to focus of those who are far from content in this 150 celebration. MT
TICKETS AND FULL PROGRAMME HOT DOCS WEEKEND | 24 – 26 SEPTEMBER 2017