An unflinching look at the heart of racial inequality in Canada
This one-hour documentary unearths the story of the children, women, men who were students and teachers in Canada’s racially segregated schools. With a vibrant musical score composed by jazz legend, Joe Sealy, it is a poignant and unfailingly honest evocation of the struggle of African Canadians to achieve dignity and equality through education. Extraordinary archival film footage, rare photographs, and touching first hand accounts from past students, teachers, historians and community leaders, are interwoven in this unflinching look at the heart of racial inequality in Canada. Shot on location in villages and cities in Ontario and Nova Scotia, the film is a compelling illustration of how many of the students who attended Canada’s all-Black schools look back on the experience with conflicting feelings: fondness for the dedication of their Black teachers, and outrage at being denied a right, fundamental to democracy in Canada: equal access to quality education.
CATCHING MY BREATH profiles the life and races of Ken Thomas, and his determination to participate in the World Masters Games as a disabled athlete. Ken races in a wheelchair –
backwards! There’s a Rocky-style, underdog sports story imbedded in the film, but it is also about Ken’s lifelong fight for inclusion and independence as a person with a physical disability.
Independent filmmaker Lorna Thomas produced and directed the film, using photographs, archival film footage and narrative commentary to paint an intimate portrait of her brother Ken. Three storylines are interwoven in the film. CATCHING MY BREATH shares Ken’s experience of training and competing internationally as a team member of the Alberta and Canadian Cerebral Palsy Sports Associations in the 1980s and 90s. The film also recounts the advocacy Ken and his family have engaged in over the past 56 years, as they fight for education, accessible housing and home care. But CATCHING MY BREATH is not just a retrospective. We see Ken today as he works as a dedicated volunteer, living an independent life with the help of a close-knit support system of family, friends and caregivers. What drives this film forward is Ken’s fight to compete one last time in an international track competition.
"Beating the streets" traces six years in the lives of Marilyn Brighteyes, and Lance Marty, two inner-city Aboriginal teenagers struggling to turn their lives around. And it is the story of Joe Cloutier, the teacher and former dropout determined to help them.
In "Beating the streets", Marilyn and Lance candidly discuss the abuse and violence that drove them into prostitution and drug dealing. The film also introduces Joe's innovative approach, combining alternative education and popular theater as a way to get young people off the streets.
The film begins in 1986, when Joe creates the Inner City Drama Association (ICDA) for teens like Marilyn and Lance. They participate in theater workshops led by actors like Tantoo Cardinal (Dances with Wolves) and their plays explore important issues like substance abuse, family violence, suicide and racism. Performances lead to discussions with the audience in an effort to seek healthy solutions.
Then, in 1993, Lance encourages Joe to take on the immense challenge of opening an alternative school -Inner City High- for teens at risk. We witness a remarkable transformation in Lance and Marilyn as they become leaders at the school.
Narrated by Tom Jackson (North of 60)
Director: Lorna Thomas
Producers: Lorna Thomas (Lorna Thomas Productions Inc.),
Jerry Krepakevich (NFB)
48 minutes. NFB Order number: C9198 025
Produced by Lorna Thomas Productions Inc., in CO-production with the National Film Board of Canada, with the assistance of Heritage Canada, Alberta Foundation for the Performing Arts, Health Canada, CBC Alberta, Film and Video Arts Society of Alberta, Native Counseling Services of Alberta and Alberta Community Development
Three stories which demonstrate that you are never too young to make a difference. From 11 year old Alaina Podmorow who started an organization to help girls get an education in Afghanistan, to Craig Kielburger whose ‘Free The Children’ is the largest organization of children helping children, Breakout! The Power of One demonstrates the power of the individual to effect change.
Plagued by a reputation of gun violence and drugs, a community fights back with an unusual weapon
The youth of Toronto’s infamous neighbourhood of Regent Park are used to being labeled and having others making decisions for them. But through a unique film-making project, they’ve been able to take control of their lives to redefine their place in the world.
11 year old Nicholas faced bullying at school – now he’s one of the most popular kids in the neighbourhood.
12 year old Josneara felt pressured by her peers regarding her Muslim heritage – now she’s developed a strong sense of identity.
21 year old Tyrone watched his friends die from gun violence as a teen – now he’s working as a mentor to younger kids.
Supporting these young people - and many more - is Adonis, the director of the media program. He’s spent the last 10 years helping Regent Park to take control of its own image, tell its own stories, and become an agent for change.
"Do you think you are stupid?" a teacher asks Clarissa, a ten year old aboriginal child in the Vancouver schools who is two years behind her classmates. This question opens an inquiry into the story of Clarissa, and many like her who appear to be slow or unteachable, damaged by the forces of racism, poverty, and the destruction of families.
This documentary follows the work of Lorna Williams, a teacher from a First Nations reserve on the west coast of Canada, and her search for help for the aboriginal children who have lost a belief in themselves. Lorna was hired by the Vancouver schools to help the 2,000 aboriginal children in the inner city schools who are dropping out, pushed out onto the streets, where drugs, abuse and violence are waiting.
In Israel, Lorna discovered the extraordinary work of an Israeli child psychologist, Reuven Feuerstein, who began his work 50 years ago, helping children who had survived the Holocaust, and she returned to Canada with an extraordinary, powerful teaching system that helps Clarissa and her teachers to see that behind her mask of frustration and anger, she is a bright and capable student.
During the program we also meet three "children at risk", students from inner-city Washington DC, and their teacher Lettie Battle. Lettie is a passionate activist who believes that Feuerstein's approach allows teachers to work with street kids who have been rejected by most schools. Using teaching tools developed by Feuerstein and his colleagues, she helps the children to develop skills and knowledge that will allow them to break out of a cycle of frustration and violence.
The Mind of a Child documents this breakthrough by Lorna and Lettie who are adapting Feuerstein's work for use with inner city children. The background for this film is tragic, but the story it tells is optimistic, as it reveals new ways to treat and heal children.
My Different Life: An Intimate Portrait of a Family Living with Learning Disabilities.
An education is a basic right most people take for granted. But when a child has learning disabilities, sometimes the system doesn't always work the way it should!
My Different Life explores the frustrations of Denise Difede, a single mother trying to get the proper care for her three kids, two of whom cope with a learning disability and the third, with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. (ADHD)
The film follows this family through pivotal points in their self-discovery and illuminates the challenges they face in their desperate attempts to navigate complex educational and medical institutions. It also offers hope by way of an educational advocate and unconventional therapies.
A POV documentary exploring the life and work of James Beveridge, an idealist who never let go of his dreams. As a co-founder of the National Film Board of Canada, Beveridge was a disciple of John Grierson - making films with a political purpose to provoke social change. He was an inspirational mentor to many, but often ignored and abandoned his family. His daughter Nina retraces the steps of his complex career, wondering if it was worth the collateral damage.
Lesra Martin was poor, illiterate and struggling on the violent streets of Brooklyn when a chance encounter with a group of Canadians shattered the confines of his life. Pulled from the chaos of the inner city and given a fresh start in Canada, Lesra became a hero when he helped to bring justice to wrongfully imprisoned American boxer Rubin Hurricane Carter. Finding the courage to change his own life, today Lesra is a lawyer and motivational speaker on the world stage.
Delving into the intensely personal story beneath the fame, this film brings together intimate interviews with Lesra, his family and friends. From his home in British Columbia to a poignant return to the streets of his childhood, Lesra reflects with humour and grace on the events that altered his life. He also grieves for family still consumed by the unforgiving ghetto, while inspiring viewers to find their own strength in adversity.