Education

June Film List

NATIONAL INDIGENOUS HISTORY MONTH

June is National Indigenous History Month and is the perfect time to reflect upon the history, heritage, diverse cultures, and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. Whether you’re watching on National Indigenous Peoples Day — June 21st — or any time throughout the month, these films are sure to spark discussion in your classroom.

ANGRY INUK

(85 Min)

We all know about the terrible “brutality” of the Arctic seal hunt — or do we? Turns out there are other sides to this story: it's the story of families that need to be fed, the story of a hunting practice that began centuries ago and the story of a tradition that is central to the economy and food security of Inuit communities in the Canadian Arctic. Angry Inuk contains a story that’s over 4,000 years old.

The seal hunt is not exactly a laughing matter, but humour and technical savvy go a long way to debunk certain claims. Wryly tackling both misinformation and aggressive appeals to emotion, Inuk filmmaker Arnaquq-Baril equips herself and her community with the powers of social media — and yes, #sealfies — to reframe a controversial topic as a cultural issue in this 2016 Audience Award–winning Hot Docs hit.

Angry Inuk delivers important information about an issue we tend to think we know everything about, and delivers a powerful emotional punch.”
—Susan G. Cole, NOW Magazine

ATANARJUAT: THE FAST RUNNER

(172 Min)

Based on an ancient Inuit legend, Atanarjuat is an epic tale of love, betrayal and revenge. The beautiful Atuat (Ivalu) has been promised to the short-fused Oki (Arnatsiaq), the son of the tribe’s leader. However, she loves the good-natured Atanarjuat (Ungalaaq), a fast runner and excellent hunter. When Atanarjuat is forced to battle the jealous Oki for Atuat’s hand, the events that follow determine not only his fate, but that of his people. Atanarjuat won 20 awards, including eight Genies and the Caméra d’Or at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.

“I am not surprised that The Fast Runner has been a box office hit in its opening engagements. It is unlike anything most audiences will have ever seen, and yet it tells a universal story.”
— Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

EMPIRE OF DIRT

(99 Min)

When single mom Lena (Gee) realizes that her daughter may be in danger of succumbing to the same addiction issues she herself faced, she decides to leave the city with her and return home to her estranged mother (Podemski) in the rural community of her youth. The homecoming forces Lena to deal with her past and raises issues that test all three generations of this family of spirited women.

Powerful and inspiring, Empire of Dirt was nominated for five Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Picture.

Empire of Dirt tells a traditional mothers-and-daughters story in a new way by making their Cree heritage and the role it has in their lives and relationships the true heart of the drama.” — Linda Barnard, Toronto Star

*Please note that this film has an Indigenous producer and screenwriter, but not an Indigenous director. imagineNATIVE defines an Indigenous-made film as one directed or co-directed by an Indigenous person.

KANEHSATAKE: 270 YEARS OF RESISTANCE

(119 Min)

In July of 1990, the Oka Crisis was a critical moment in contemporary Canadian history and a turning point for Indigenous affairs. That summer, as the small Quebec community was thrust into the international spotlight, master filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin spent 78 nail-biting days filming the armed stand-off between the Mohawks of Kanehsatake, Quebec, the Quebec police and the Canadian army.

This powerful documentary takes you right to the heart of the action, painting a sensitive and deeply affecting portrait of the people behind the barricades.

Winner of the Toronto International Film Festival’s Best Canadian Feature Film prize.

KAYAK TO KLEMTU

(91 Min)

When a prominent Kitasoo/Xai’Xais activist passes away, his 14-year-old niece Ella (Blaney) embarks on a kayak journey to take his ashes home to Klemtu. It’s a race against the clock as Ella tries to make it back in time to give a speech protesting a proposed pipeline that would cross Indigenous land.

Ella is joined by her aunt, cousin and grumpy uncle (Cardinal), as the four paddle with all their might through the Inside Passage and past the shores of the Great Bear Rainforest. Join this family on the adventure of a lifetime that reflects on the importance of protecting our lands for future generations.

Winner of the 2017 imagineNATIVE Audience Choice Award.

NÎPAWISTAMÂSOWIN: WE WILL STAND UP

(98 Min)

On August 9, 2016, a 22-year-old Cree man named Colten Boushie was killed by a gunshot to the back of his head after entering a rural farm property in Saskatchewan with his friends. When an all-white jury acquitted the white farmer of all charges, the case received international attention and sent Colten’s family and community on a quest to fix the Canadian justice system.

Sensitively directed by Tasha Hubbard, this profoundly affecting documentary weaves a narrative encompassing the filmmaker’s own family story, the history of colonialism on the Prairies, and a vision of a future where Indigenous children can live safely on their homelands.

Nîpawistamâsowin was the opening night film at Hot Docs 2019, where it won the prize for Best Canadian Documentary.

OUR PEOPLE WILL BE HEALED

(97 Min)

Master documentarian Alanis Obomsawin’s 50th film reveals how a Cree community in Manitoba has been enriched through the power of education. The students at a local school for the Norway House Cree Nation discuss their aspirations for the future and reflect on the fact that they are feeling more hopeful and optimistic than previous generations.

By discussing the effects of intergenerational trauma, substance abuse and many other issues facing Indigenous communities, and by learning about their own history and culture, the students are able to undergo a process of collective healing and ensure that growing up doesn’t mean leaving one’s roots behind.

This inspiring doc shows that the strength of the community comes from the people within it, and provides a strong model for prosperity and renewal.

Our People Will Be Healed breathes with hope for the future.” – Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

RISE: SACRED WATER – STANDING ROCK PART 1

(45 Min)

This powerful documentary series from VICELAND gives viewers a rare glimpse into the frontline of Indigenous-led resistance, examining Indigenous life through the stories of people in diverse communities who are working to protect their homelands. Several episodes of this urgent and timely show debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and were hailed as “persuasive and poignant” by The New York Times.

Sacred Water: Standing Rock Part 1 The residents of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation of South Dakota are fighting to stop a pipeline from being built on their ancestral homeland. In this absorbing account of the events leading up to the protests, Anishinaabe host Sarain Carson-Fox provides context and background, telling the water protectors’ side of the story as the conflict develops right before our eyes.

RISE: RED POWER – STANDING ROCK PART 2

(44 Min)

This powerful documentary series from VICELAND gives viewers a rare glimpse into the frontline of Indigenous-led resistance, examining Indigenous life through the stories of people in diverse communities who are working to protect their homelands. Several episodes of this urgent and timely show debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and were hailed as “persuasive and poignant” by The New York Times.

Red Power: Standing Rock Part 2 As the #noDAPL movement grows in size and reaches a boiling point, over 5,000 people descend on the Standing Rock camp. Using the unprecedented occupation at Standing Rock as its starting point, this episode delves into the evolution of the Red Power Movement, combining history lessons about Indigenous-led resistance with explosive footage of this urgent and historic moment.

RISE: THE URBAN REZ

(44 Min)

Winnipeg is home to the largest urban Indigenous population in the country, with a high percentage living in a low-income neighbourhood with the highest crime rate in the city. In the face of a staggering number of cases of missing Indigenous women and girls, the community has decided to take a stand, working on an individual level to support, protect and improve the lives of its residents.

Hosted by Gitz Crazyboy (Blackfoot, Dene) this documentary shows the brave fighters who have dedicated themselves to the cause and delves into the underlying factors and intergenerational trauma that has allowed this environment to develop in the first place.

RUSTIC ORACLE

(101 Min)

When her older sister vanishes from their Mohawk community, eight year-old Ivy (Delisle) joins her mother Susan (Moore) in a desperate search that lays bare the authorities’ indifference towards missing Indigenous Women and Girls.

Ivy and Susan’s journey to find answers is one that no family should go through, but their shared hope helps mother and daughter come together in love amongst difficult circumstances. Filmmaker Sonia Bonspille Boileau brings warmth and grace to this delicate depiction of a young girl forging a strong sense of identity while also contending with family tragedy. 

PRIDE MONTH

June also marks Pride Month, celebrating LGBTQIA+ Pride across the country. It was in June of 1969 when the Stonewall Riots occurred in New York, marking an important milestone in the fight for gay rights. We recommend the following films for Canadian stories of love and acceptance:

C.R.A.Z.Y.

(127 Min)

A box office blockbuster and the winner of a whopping 11 Genies, C.R.A.Z.Y. is an infectious, entertaining coming-of-age drama. When Zac Beaulieu (Grondin) is born on December 25, 1960, it becomes clear that he is different from his four brothers. He vies desperately for attention and acceptance from both of his parents, but in particular from his loving and old-fashioned father, Gervais (Côté).

The film follows Zac as life takes him on an epic journey to come to grips with his sexual identity. Buoyed by a vibrant soundtrack, C.R.A.Z.Y. boasts countless moments of true movie magic. It is at once a crowd pleaser and a poignant auteur film.

JEUNE JULIETTE

(97 Min)

Pour bien des gens, l’adolescence est une période difficile. Prenez Juliette (Jamieson) : en plus de se sentir incomprise par son entourage et sa propre famille, elle doit supporter la nouvelle petite amie bohème de son père, éprouve un premier béguin pour l’ami de son frère aîné, et est de plus en plus consciente du regard des autres sur son poids. Heureusement, elle peut compter sur sa meilleure amie (Désilets) et sur le petit garçon précoce (Beaudet) qu’elle garde de temps en temps pour l’aider à passer à travers cet éprouvant passage à l’âge adulte.
   
Débordant d’humour et de sincérité, ce quatrième film de la réalisatrice et scénariste Anne Émond saisit à merveille comme il peut être ardu et douloureux de grandir, de lâcher prise et d’apprendre à s’aimer, sans se soucier de l’opinion des autres.

MAMAN EST CHEZ LE COIFFEUR

(97 Min)

Nous sommes à l’été 1966. Le soleil brille et le monde regorge de possibilités. Mais pour Élise (Fortier) qui a 15 ans, il y a des problèmes qui fermentent sous la surface de sa joyeuse vie de famille.

Quand une découverte bouleversante pousse sa mère à quitter la famille, tout le monde est abasourdi. Au milieu du chaos, Élise décide que c’est à elle de prendre les choses en main et de résoudre les problèmes. Tandis que son père et ses deux frères se retirent dans leur monde intérieur, Élise ne se décourage pas. Essayant de garder le secret sur les ennuis de sa famille, elle découvre que personne autour d’elle n’a une vie aussi parfaite qu’il n’y paraît à première vue.

Une histoire tendre et touchante de passage à l’âge adulte dans des circonstances difficiles, Maman est chez le coiffeur est un film plein de couleurs riches et vives qui évoquent à merveille les chaudes journées d’été. Ce n’est pas exactement l’été qu’Élise attendait, mais ce sera un été qui ne ressemblera à aucun autre.

MAMBO ITALIANO

(99 Min)

A rollicking comedy that takes place in a colourful version of Montreal’s Petite Italie, Mambo Italiano is the tale of Angelo Barbarini (Kirby), the son of Italian-Canadian immigrants, who has been teased all his life for being “different.”

At nearly 30 years of age, Angelo shocks his parents — and the entire community — by brazenly defying tradition: He moves out to live his own life despite not being married. Free at last, he falls in love with his long-lost childhood chum Nino (Miller), and the two move in together. They try to keep their sexuality a secret, while their families worry, suspect and scheme to set them up with nice Italian girls. It’s not easy being Italian and gay, and when the pressures of his double life begin to overwhelm Angelo, his reactions set off an explosively funny chain of surprise revelations, comic reversals and unexpected outcomes.

Mambo Italiano was nominated for six Canadian Comedy Awards.

MY PRAIRIE HOME

(76 Min)

Set against the backdrop of the Canadian Prairies, Alberta-born singer/songwriter Rae Spoon takes us on the musical journey of a trans person’s coming of age in an evangelical household.  

Using interviews, performances and songs, the film traces Spoon’s musical and personal evolution, as the musician shares stories about discovering the truth about oneself and having the courage to live that truth.

"My Prairie Home is melodic, poetic, and beautifully complicated bliss. An utterly beguiling documentary discovery." Glenn Dunks, Film Experience. 

WEIRDOS

(84 Min)

In a small Nova Scotian town in 1976, 15-year-old Kit (Authors) and his girlfriend Alice (Stone) decide to shake up their go-nowhere existence by hitchhiking to the big city of Sydney to visit Kit's glamorous but unstable mother (Parker). It becomes a journey of self discovery that opens them up to new possibilities for their futures. 

Beautifully shot and featuring a killer '70s soundtrack, the new film from Canadian master Bruce McDonald and playwright and screenwriter Daniel MacIvor shakes up the coming-of-age road-movie concept with wit, charm and a lot of heart. 

"What's not to love about Canuck hipster Bruce McDonald's return to a genre he's a master of – the indie road movie with a distinctly Canadian flavour and endearingly peculiar characters." – Michelle Reid, Victoria Times Colonist