Watch: 5 Films for Family Day

Beaver Family


By Pat Mullen

Looking to gather close with some loved ones on Family Day? Here are five binge-worthy docs for holiday viewing:

Birth of a Family

Before her excellent nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up airs on CBC Docs on Feb. 23, catch Tasha Hubbard’s previous feature Birth of a Family. The doc is a moving and personal account of four family members who come together for the first time after being separated during the Sixties Scoop. The film is as touching as it is painful, and speaks to the larger issues of reconciliation we need to consider when family was a right that far too many Canadians were denied.

Birth of a Family , Tasha Hubbard, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Love Letters from Everest

Celeste Koon shares a family story in this delightful animated film. Letters from Everest offers a creative take on the filmmaker’s grandparents, as told through the correspondence between Barbara Battle and Swiss glaciologist Fritz Müller, who successfully climbed Everest and spent a year studying the mountain, falling in love with Barbara from afar. The film draws upon their letters and elements from the archive, injecting the story with Koon’s perspective to bring the family history full circle.

Life without Basketball

Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema offers a Family Day screening of this inspiring tale of Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir and her fight to play on the court while staying true to her faith. (Readers who can’t make it to HDTRC can watch it from Kanopy below.) The film follows Abdul-Qaadir as she finds her streak as the school’s star basketball player cut short when the International Basketball Association bans religious headgear. Drawing upon the strength of her family and the importance of her faith, Abdul-Qaadir puts representation on the court as she realizes the stakes at play. Life without Basketball poignantly shows that one shouldn’t have to choose between one’s identity and one’s dreams.

Family Camera

No Family Day is complete without some awkward family photos. Family Camera explores over 150 years of family photo history as director Marc de Guerre charts these iconic images from the days of daguerreotypes to selfie snapshots. Although family photographs might be cringe-worthy nuisances wrought upon kids by annoying parents, the film reminds us that the family photo can be the ultimate representation of love and inclusion.

Beaver Family

Perhaps the most “Canadian” family movie ever made, Beaver Family gives audiences a trip through the NFB archives. This 1929 silent short features Grey Owl interacting with a family of beavers as they ready a new lodge. (Yes, that Grey Owl portrayed by Pierce Brosnan in the 1999 drama we’d all rather forget.) The film looks at the most iconic of Canadian creatures as the beavers munch on some bread or cuddle up with Grey Owl for a nap.

Beaver Family, , provided by the National Film Board of Canada