Education

October Film List

Women's History Month

Choose from a wealth of great films by female filmmakers, as well as films that deal with both real and fictionalized accounts of notable moments in women’s history.

Angelique’s Isle

(90 Min)

In the midst of the 1845 mining boom on the shores of Lake Superior, newlywed Anishinaabe woman Angelique (Julia Jones) agrees to accompany her voyageur husband on a copper expedition. Left by the rest of the crew to guard a large discovery on a remote island, the couple must survive for weeks dealing with the harsh winter conditions and a quickly dwindling food supply.

As hunger sets in, Angelique – a devout Christian – struggles with her faith and must rely on the teachings she received from her grandmother in order to survive. A testament to the strength and resilience of Indigenous women, Angelique’s Isle also stars Tantoo Cardinal and Aden Young.

Based on the novel Angelique Abandoned by James R. Stevens and the true story of 17-year-old Angelique Mott, Angelique’s Isle is a beautiful and harrowing true tale of perseverance and survival.

Beans

(92 Min)

Beans takes place at the height of the 1990 Mohawk Resistance at Kanehsatà:ke (also known as the Oka Crisis), a 78-day standoff between Indigenous land defenders, Quebec police, the RCMP and the Canadian military, over the proposed expansion of a golf course on to a Mohawk burial ground. Twelve-year-old Tekehentahkhwa (nicknamed “Beans”, played by Kiawentiio) is forced into an early coming of age by these events, as her innocence turns to anger over the treatment of her people.

Drawing from her own experiences as a child, director Tracey Deer provides a poignant and engaging chronicle of these real-life events that shook the nation, as well as a much-needed look at how the traumatic events impacted youth in the community.

Beans premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the 2021 Canadian Screen Award for Best Picture.

Content Note: This film includes coarse language, violence, and thematic elements that may not be suitable for all audiences.

The Book of Negroes

(265 Min)

This CBC mini-series is based on the internationally celebrated novel by Canadian author Lawrence Hill. A compelling tale of loss, courage, love and the triumph of the human spirit, it follows the extraordinary journey of Aminata Diallo (Ellis), an indomitable African woman.

In 1750, 11-year-old Aminata is kidnapped from her village in West Africa and begins a rich journey that takes her through the harrowing ordeal of slavery, to the turmoil of the American Revolution and ultimately to freedom in the British colony of Nova Scotia. Brilliant and determined, Aminata is a remarkable heroine whose unshakeable connection to her own African heritage guides her over unimaginable obstacles in her quest for freedom and ultimately allows her to assume the mantle of leadership for which she is destined.

Deeply moving and inspiring, The Book of Negroes explores painful historical realities through the unblinking eyes of a strong female protagonist whose story will stay with you long after the telling.

The Breadwinner

(94 Min)

Parvana (Saara Chaudry) is an 11-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. When her father is wrongfully arrested, Parvana cuts off her hair and dresses like a boy in order to be able to get a job and help to support her family. Working alongside her friend Shauzia, Parvana discovers a new world of freedom and danger.

With courage and imagination, Parvana draws strength from the fantastical stories she invents, as she embarks on a quest to find her father and reunite her family. The Breadwinner is an inspiring and beautifully animated tale about the power of stories to sustain hope and carry us through dark times.

The Breadwinner has been nominated for 38 international awards, including six Canadian Screen Awards and the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

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.

Jeune Juliette (Young Juliet)

(97 Min)

Adolescence is a tough time for a lot of people. Take Juliette (Jamieson); on top of feeling misunderstood by her peers and her own family, she has to deal with her dad’s new bohemian girlfriend, her first crush, and an increasing awareness that people see her as overweight. Good thing she has her best friend (Désilets), and a precocious young boy (Beaudet) whom she babysits to help her sort through the tumult of coming of age.

This humorous and heartfelt fourth film from writer/director Anne Émond wonderfully captures the awkwardness and the pain of growing up, letting go, and learning to love yourself no matter what other people think.

“It’s remarkable… Beautifully written, and sprinkled with laughter.” — MarcAndré Lussier, La Presse (Translated from French)

Maïna

(102 Min)

An adventure story that is both epic and intimate, Maïna is set in the Far North, in the time before the arrival of the Europeans. During a bloody battle between the Innu and Inuit tribes, an 11-year-old boy, Nipki, is captured by the Inuit. Maïna (Supernault), the daughter of the Innu Grand Chief (Greene), promises her dying friend Matsii that she will rescue the boy, embarking on a dangerous mission that will forever change the course of her life.

Venturing north into enemy territory, Maïna is herself captured by Natak, the Inuit clan’s leader, and must navigate the perilous journey with him, to the “Land of Ice.”

Based on the novel by award-winning author Dominique Demers, this gripping and visually stunning film was nominated for six Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Picture.

Maudie

(115 Min)

Maudie is based on the true story of Nova Scotia painter Maud Lewis, who overcame the physical challenge of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis to become one of Canada's best known and most loved folk artists.

The fragile but determined Maudie (Sally Hawkins) yearns for independence from her over-protective family and dreams of creating art. When she answers an ad for a housekeeper placed by a reclusive fish seller (Ethan Hawke), she gains more than just the freedom she wanted, as the unlikely pair develops a relationship that is intensely intimate and just as challenging.

A touching and inspiring story about following one's dreams in spite of life's obstacles, Maudie is an absolute charmer.

"Maudie breaks your heart with its infectious positivity." – Tomris Laffly, Time Out

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

Status Quo? The Unfinished Business of Feminism in Canada

(87 Min)

Feminism has shaped the society we live in. But just how far has it brought us, and how relevant is it today? This feature documentary zeroes in on key concerns such as violence against women, access to abortion, and universal childcare, asking how much progress we have truly made on these issues.

Rich with archival material and powerful contemporary stories, Status Quo? uncovers answers that are provocative and at times shocking. A striking, in-depth documentary that pays homage to Canada’s feminist forerunners and raises important questions about where and how we should move on from here.

Water

(114 Min)

Set in India during the rise of Mahatma Gandhi, Water recounts the story of Chuyia (Kariyawasam), a child bride. When her husband dies suddenly, Chuyia is forced to live in an ashram for Hindu widows, essentially cut off from society.

Fortunately, she finds friends in the beautiful Kilyani (Ray) and in the forward-thinking Narayan (Abraham). With their help, Chuyia attempts to escape the confines of her existence. Boasting lush visuals, Water could easily be a bleak story of deprivation and loss, but in Mehta’s gentle hands, it becomes one charged with hope and optimism.

Water was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The World Before Her

(90 Min)

Ruhi Singh is on her way to Bombay to participate in an intense beauty boot camp as a contestant in the Miss India pageant, a surefire launching pad to fame in a country of 1.2 billion people. 

Meanwhile, just a few hours away, Prachi Trivedi works at a very different kind of camp – one run by a militant Hindu nationalist group, where young girls are trained to combat western influences. 

Moving between the two camps, this lively and provocative documentary paints a portrait of a nation in transformation. A study in contrasts on the one hand, the film also reveals disturbing similarities in the obstacles that each woman faces as she tries to have an impact on her society.

The World Before Her won Best Canadian Feature at the Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival. 

Islamic Heritage Month

Learn about and honour the rich history of Islam, and the contributions of Muslims in Canada with any of these great films.

The Breadwinner

(94 Min)

Parvana (Saara Chaudry) is an 11-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. When her father is wrongfully arrested, Parvana cuts off her hair and dresses like a boy in order to be able to get a job and help to support her family. Working alongside her friend Shauzia, Parvana discovers a new world of freedom and danger.

With courage and imagination, Parvana draws strength from the fantastical stories she invents, as she embarks on a quest to find her father and reunite her family. The Breadwinner is an inspiring and beautifully animated tale about the power of stories to sustain hope and carry us through dark times.

The Breadwinner has been nominated for 38 international awards, including six Canadian Screen Awards and the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

The Cuban

(109 Min)

The Cuban is a touching story about friendship, love and of course, beautiful music. Mina (Golga), an Afghani-Canadian pre-med student in her first placement at a long-term care home, meets Luis (Gossett Jr.) an elderly musician whose dementia has deprived him of many of the memories of his youth in Cuba. When Mina finds a way to reignite his memory using music and food from his past, the two enter on an inspiring journey of self-discovery that reawakens Mina’s love of music, and changes both of their lives.

Featuring a stellar cast and beautiful original music, The Cuban is a heartwarming cross-cultural story that received 3 Canadian Screen Award nominations.

“As a story of the curative power of music, it works, has a good beat and you can dance to it.” – Richard Crouse, film critic

Sabah

(86 Min)

Sabah (Khanjian) is a sheltered 40-year-old woman who lives with her controlling Muslim family in Toronto. While they are a source of love and support, her widowed mother and conservative brother, Majid (Seymour), are also pretty overbearing.

Sabah is frustrated at home with no means of escape. That is, until she meets non-Muslim Stephen (Doyle), who awakens her long-lost desire for independence and romance. Soon, Sabah is having a whirlwind cross-cultural affair that she must hide from her family.

Ruba Nadda’s witty and timely love story breathes new life into a classic tale of family, tradition, cultural difference and love.

Window Horses

(88 Min)

This extraordinary animated feature tells the tale of Rosie, a young Canadian poet of Chinese and Persian descent. Rosie lives in Vancouver with her Chinese grandparents and dreams of travelling and seeing the world. 

When she receives an invitation to a poetry festival in Shiraz, Iran, Rosie embarks on a journey that unravels a personal mystery and brings her closer to her Persian roots. 

Voiced by an all-star cast including Sandra Oh, Ellen Page and Don McKellar, Window Horses is a beautiful and poignant story about family, imagination, culture and finding your own voice. 

"This is not just a visual treat, it's a rewarding and unexpectedly engrossing piece of female-led storytelling." – Wendy Ide, Screen International 

Diwali

Celebrate the Festival of Lights on October 24 with the National Film Board short film, Lights for Gita.

Lights for Gita

(7 Min)

In her first winter in Canada after her family moved from India, Gita finds a special way to celebrate Divali, the Hindu festival of lights.

Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, and what better way to enjoy the season than by showing a spooky Canadian film in your class (complete with lesson plans)!

Fido

(91 Min)

Welcome to Willard, an idyllic town in a 1950s parallel universe where the sun shines every day, everybody knows their neighbour and zombies carry the mail.

Visually captivating, sly and clever, Fido follows the Robinson family, who have been hesitant to get a zombie of their own even though everyone on the block has one. All that changes when Mom (Moss) buys Fido (Connolly), and the loveable brute becomes young Timmy’s best friend. Fido is a funny, satirical and refreshing movie with an all-star cast and a standout performance by Billy Connolly as Fido.

“Currie’s zombie comedy is in a class by itself.”
— Lori Fireman, NOW Magazine

Pontypool

(93 Min)

Grant Mazzy (McHattie) is a big-city shock radio DJ who has lost his job and moves to the small Ontario town of Pontypool, where he frustrates his new station manager, Sydney (Houle).

Nothing ever happens in Pontypool, so when Mazzy arrives at the station to start his show one wintry morning, he and his team are surprised by strange reports from town.

The station’s tiny crew find themselves holed up in their church basement studio, trying to piece together what’s happening outside as disturbing details pour in. Callers are making very little sense, and it seems like the English language itself is infected with a strange virus.

“McDonald knows it’s the things you don’t see, but only imagine, that best chill the blood.”
— Peter Howell, Toronto Star

Saints-Martyrs-des-Damnés (Saint Martyrs of the Damned)

(115 Min)

At once creepy and thought-provoking, Saints-Martyrs-des-Damnés is an eerie and playful supernatural thriller. Tabloid reporter Flavien (Chénier) and his photographer buddy Armand (Robitaille) are dispatched to a rural Quebec village to investigate a series of mysterious disappearances. But things quickly begin to go awry when Armand vanishes on their very first night in town.

The town’s inhabitants are a strange group — a mayor who rules with an iron fist, the creepy twins running the motel, the woman who serenades cows, a masked mechanic, and many others. But Flavien can’t get anyone to help him, as they’re all suspicious and even downright aggressive toward him. With an arresting visual style and quirky sense of humour, the film pushes the boundaries of the conventional thriller, tackling questions about identity, responsibility and mortality in a refreshing way.