In the wake of the Trayvon Martin murder case, Canadian filmmaker Charles officer was commissioned by the the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) to direct an innovative documentary titled “Unarmed Verses,’ which, broadly, explores race, class and youth in Canada, specifically following kids from a housing project in Toronto whose lives about the radically change, with a remarkably astute and luminous 12-year-old black girl at the center.
The Toronto Community Housing Corporation is proceeding with plans to “revitalize” the area, and while residents welcome the prospect of improved housing, they’re also anxious. The redevelopment could take years, during which time households will be relocated throughout the city, separated from life-long neighbors and friends.
Over a period of months Officer – whose critically-acclaimed debut feature, “Nurse.Fighter.Boy,” and debut feature documentary, the 2010 NFB production “Mighty Jerome” were both covered on this blog – documented neighborhood initiatives like the volunteer-run “homework club” and introduced his young subjects to participatory filmmaking to produced a powerful work.
“Unarmed Verses” is part of this year’s lineup of National Film Board of Canada (NFB) films at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, with four world premieres of feature documentaries in the festival’s Canadian Spectrum program, as well as retrospective screenings of classic NFB works.
A thoughtful and vivid portrait of marginalized Toronto Community Housing residents in the city’s north-east end facing imposed relocation, “Unarmed Verses,” produced by Lea Marin and executive produced by Anita Lee for the NFB’s Ontario Studio, premieres May 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Isabel Bader Theatre, at Hot Docs, screening as part of the Canadian Spectrum section.
A review of the film is forthcoming. In the meantime, ahead of its Hot Docs premiere, Shadow and Act has been granted an exclusive first-look at its trailer which is embedded below.