Docs Opening in Canada this Week (Oct. 6-12)

Unarmed Verses
Courtesy of the NFB

By Pat Mullen

Catch Charles Officer’s acclaimed and award-winning Unarmed Verses when it opens this Friday at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. This observant and powerful film, which scooped the prize for Best Canadian Feature at Hot Docs earlier this year, considers the lives upturned and scattered by impersonal city planning as Officer documents the story of residents at Toronto’s Villaways housing community. The residents, particularly the young Francine who becomes our eyes during the film, find themselves at a confusing crossroads when the city tells them they must all leave their homes so that they can be demolished and revamped as a mixture of condos and community housing. Francine and company can go home again once the new digs are ready if they’re lucky in a lottery. But is one’s home still one’s home when every brick and beam is replaced? Read the POV review for Unarmed Verses here.

Sometimes it takes a village to raise a child, but sometimes it helps to have a little luck o’ the Irish. School Life offers a fine complement to Unarmed Verses, since both docs show students from diverse communities as they grow under the wings of their teachers. Music features prominently in both films, with School Life subject John Leyden teaching the kids boarding at Headfort school music as part of their extracurricular work. The kids perform rocky renditions of Rhianna and Ellie Goulding between Languages and Maths, and, much like Francine, find confidence behind the microphone. Like Officer’s film, this observational doc by Neasa Ní Chianáin and David Rane avoids sentimental underdog stories in favour of a smart and endearing study of the best systems in place to raise the next generation. Read the POV review for School Life here.

Other docs playing in Canada include the ever-growing wealth of films at the Vancouver International Film Festival and Montreal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinema, while Hot Docs kicks off the Hot Docs Podcast festival later in the week to showcase the ever-growing popularity of audio docs as the art form takes on new shapes and sizes.

Opening this Week:

Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World
Dir. Barry Avrich | Canada | 80 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Mon, Oct. 9 – Tues, Oct. 10

Expo 67: Mission Impossible
Dir. Guylaine Maroist, Eric Ruel, Michel Barbeau | Canada | 68 min.
-Cobourg, ON: Cobourg Loft – Tues, Oct. 10

La ferme et son État
Dir. Marc Séguin | Canada | 116 min.
-Montreal, QC: Cinema Beaubien – Fri, Oct. 6 – Thurs, Oct. 12

The Gardener
Dir. Sébastien Chabot | Canada | 88 min.
-Cobourg, ON: Cobourg Loft – Fri, Oct. 6; Sun, Oct. 8; Thurs, Oct. 12
-Victoria, BC: Cinecenta – Fri, Oct. 6 – Sat, Oct. 7

Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Clown
Dir. Gregory Monro | France/USA | 73 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Sun, Oct. 8

The Last Dalai Lama?
Dir. Mickey Lemle | USA | 82 min.
-Cobourg, ON: Cobourg Loft – Sat, Oct. 8; Wed, Oct. 11
-Edmonton, AB: Metro Cinema – Sun, Oct. 8
-Toronto, ON: Mt. Pleasant Theatre – Fri, Oct. 6 – Mon, Oct. 10

Long Time Running
Dir. Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier | Canada | 90 min.
-Calgary, AB: Canyon Meadows Cinemas Fri, Oct. 6 – Thurs, Oct. 12
-Guelph, ON: Bookshelf Cinema – Fri, Oct. 6 – Sat, Oct. 7; Tues, Oct. 10
-Ottawa, ON: ByTowne Cinema – Mon, Oct. 9 – Tues, Oct. 10
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Fri, Oct. 6

School Life
Dir. Neasa Ní Chianáin, David Rane | Ireland | 99 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Fri, Oct. 6 – Mon, Oct. 9; Wed, Oct. 11

Unarmed Verses
Dir. Charles Officer | Canada | 86 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Fri, Oct. 6 – Mon, Oct. 9; Wed, Oct. 11
—>Post-screening Q&As with producer Lea Marin (October 6, 6:30 pm) and director Charles Officer (October 9, 8:30 pm) with special guests.

Dir. Jennifer Brea | UK/USA | 97 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Sat, Oct. 7
—>Director Jennifer Brea will join for a post-screening discussion via Skype.

Whose Streets?
Dir. Sabaah Folayan, Damon Davis | USA | 90 min.
-Calgary, AB: Globe Cinema – Fri, Oct. 6 – Wed, Oct. 11

Retro Screenings:

A Married Couple
Dir. Allan King | Canada | 1969 | 97 min.
-Toronto, ON: TIFF Bell Lightbox – Sat, Oct. 7

Enjoy a week at the movies!

Visit First Weekend Club for more info on Canadian films opening around the country!