Discover British Columbia—from its big cities and rural areas to its small towns and remote communities—through a selection of films that shines a spotlight on the province’s hidden treasures and fascinating characters. Suitable for both primary and secondary level students, this playlist includes animated and documentary films. These seminal works from our collection address the topics that matter most, ranging from historical subjects to the most pressing issues of the day.
In The Mountain of SGaana, Haida filmmaker Christopher Auchter spins a magical tale of a young man who is stolen away to the spirit world, and the young woman who rescues him. The film brilliantly combines traditional animation with formal elements of Haida art, and is based on a story inspired by a old Haida fable.
This feature documentary by Sundance award-winning director Julia Kwan captures the subtle nuances of a culturally diverse neighbourhood—Vancouver’s once-thriving Chinatown—in the midst of a transformation that plays out across many ethnic enclaves in North America. The community’s oldest and newest members offer their intimate perspectives on the shifting landscape as they reflect on change, memory and legacy. Night and day, a neon sign that reads “EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT” looms over Chinatown. Everything is going to be alright. The big question is—for whom?
Beauty explores the lives of five gender-creative kids, each uniquely engaged in shaping their own sense of what it means to be fully human. Whether it’s dealing with bullies, explaining themselves to their parents, or navigating the uncharted waters of relationships, Bex, Lili, Fox, Tru and Milo talk about their experiences and struggle to live in authenticity.
In 1959, at just 19, Harry Jerome was Canada's most promising track and field star on his way to the Olympics in Rome. By 1962, after suffering a gruesome leg injury, there was every reason to think that his racing days were over. But Jerome was not just a champion on the track; he was doubly determined off it. And so began his climb to what his coach, Bill Bowerman, called "the greatest comeback in track and field history."
Through years of unparalleled political turbulence, racial conflict and his own personal challenges, Harry Jerome kept his head down and ran, displaying strength of character and willful perseverance every bit as impressive as his record-setting athleticism.
Filmmaker Charles Officer uses gorgeous monochrome imagery, impassioned interviews and astonishing archival footage to tell the runner's triumphant story, from his early days in North Vancouver, through his three Olympics and his unequalled streak of records, to his sudden and tragically premature death. Family, friends and teammates recall a man who forever changed the Canadian sports landscape and made an indelible mark upon the world.
Compelling, surprising and urgently paced, Mighty Jerome will electrify sports fans, history buffs and all those with an appreciation for tales of courage and redemption.
A conservative Indo-Canadian family in small-town British Columbia must come to terms with a devastating secret: three sisters were sexually abused by an older relative beginning in their childhood years. After remaining silent for nearly two and a half decades, the sisters finally decide to come forward—not only to protect other young relatives, but to set an example for their daughters as well.
When internationally renowned Haida carver Robert Davidson was only 22 years old, he carved the first new totem pole on British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii in almost a century. On the 50th anniversary of the pole’s raising, Haida filmmaker Christopher Auchter steps easily through history to revisit that day in August 1969, when the entire village of Old Massett gathered to celebrate the event that would signal the rebirth of the Haida spirit.
The Road Forward, a musical documentary by Marie Clements, connects a pivotal moment in Canada’s civil rights history—the beginnings of Indian Nationalism in the 1930s—with the powerful momentum of First Nations activism today. The Road Forward’s stunningly shot musical sequences, performed by an ensemble of some of Canada’s finest vocalists and musicians, seamlessly connect past and present with soaring vocals, blues, rock, and traditional beats. A rousing tribute to the fighters for First Nations rights, a soul-resounding historical experience, and a visceral call to action.
This short film is part of a series entitled I Can Make Art and focuses on the work of Emily Carr. In this film, kids examine Carr's unusual world and the inspiration for her haunting landscapes. Drawing on this inspiration, they then attempt to create a giant forest mural on a window in their school. The series is comprised of six short films that take a kid's-eye view of a diverse group of Canadian visual artists.
This short film tells the story of Mohammed Alsaleh, a young Syrian refugee granted asylum in Canada after fleeing torture and imprisonment by the Assad regime. While rebuilding his life in Vancouver, he assists newly-arrived Syrian refugee families to resettle, finding new homes and new beginnings.
Deep in the Great Bear Rainforest, against the backdrop of British Columbia’s breathtaking wilderness, a former hunter comes to terms with his past and looks with hope towards the future. Exploring one man’s evolving relationship with the natural world, Way of the Hunter tells the compelling story of Robert Moberg, a hunter who ultimately traded his gun for a camera.
This short film is a portrait of Tofino, BC intertidal artist Pete Clarkson as he crafts his most ambitious and personal project to date: a memorial to the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. He, like so many of us around the world, was deeply affected by the disaster. Years later, as splintered and mangled timber and other objects started to wash ashore, the disaster hit home again for Clarkson, and the inspiration for his memorial was born. In Clarkson’s caring hands, the remnants from the Tohoku region take on a life of their own as he shapes them into a unique public sculpture. The result is an evocative memorial that is a site of remembrance and contemplation, and an emotional bridge connecting an artist, his community and a people an ocean away.
A compelling hybrid of drama and documentary, this feature film covers the events that led up to the infamous destruction of an extraordinary 300-year-old tree held sacred by the indigenous Haida nation of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. Inspired by John Vaillant’s award-winning book The Golden Spruce, the film introduces us to the complex character of Grant Hadwin, a logging engineer and survivalist who lived and worked happily for many years in BCʼs ancient forests. Witnessing the devastation wrought by clear-cutting, Hadwin was finally driven to commit what some would say was an extraordinary and perverse act, one that ran contrary to all he had come to value. Interweaving speculation, myth and reality, the film charts Hadwin’s emotional crusade against the destruction of the world’s last great temperate rainforest and explores the possible motives for his unprecedented crime.
Filmmaker Karen Cho travels from Montreal to Vancouver to uncover stories from the last survivors of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act, a set of laws imposed to single out the Chinese as unwanted immigrants to Canada from 1885 to 1947. Through a combination of history, poetry and raw emotion, this documentary sheds light on an era that shaped the identity of generations.
This short symphonic documentary offers a glimpse into the unique religious co-existence found along No. 5 Road in Richmond, British Columbia. Highway to Heaven takes audiences into many of the temples, mosques, and churches that call No. 5 home, revealing unity despite difference across these diverse cultural spaces. In a world struggling with religious violence and intolerance, filmmaker Sandra Ignagni has crafted a gentle portrait of a rare landscape using attentive imagery and an acoustic tapestry of prayer.
The bombing of the American naval base at Pearl Harbor thrust 9-year-old Minoru Fukushima into a world of racism so malevolent he would be forced to leave Canada, the land of his birth. Like thousands of other Japanese Canadians, Minoru and his family were branded as an enemy of Canada, dispatched to internment camps in British Columbia and finally deported to Japan. Directed by Michael Fukushima, Minoru's son, the film combines classical animation with archival material. The memories of the father are interspersed with the voice of the son, weaving a tale of a birthright lost and recovered.
This feature-length animated film centres around the story of Rosie Ming, a young Canadian poet invited to perform at a Poetry Festival in Shiraz, Iran. Rosie lives in Vancouver with her over-protective Chinese grandparents, and has never been anywhere on her own. But once in Iran, she finds herself in the company of poets and Persians, all of whom tell her stories about her past, the Iranian father she had assumed abandoned her, and about the nature of poetry itself. This is a film about love, finding your own path, and learning how to forgive.
This animated short tells the story of Seraphim "Joe" Fortes, one of Vancouver's most beloved citizens. Born in the West Indies, Joe Fortes swam in English Bay for over than 30 years. A self-appointed lifeguard at first, he became so famous that the city of Vancouver finally rewarded him with a salary for doing what he loved best. He taught thousands of people to swim and saved over a hundred lives. Yet there were some who did not respect him because of his skin colour. Through his determination, kindness and love for children, Joe helped shift attitudes.