Showing at the festival: Wednesday, October 4, 1 p.m., SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
Friday, October 6, 6 p.m., Rio Theatre.
Charles Officer’s Unarmed Verses presents a thoughtful and vivid portrait of a community facing imposed relocation, taking a look at marginalized Toronto Community Housing residents in the city’s north-east end. At the centre of the story is a remarkably astute and luminous 12-year-old black girl. The documentary Unarmed Verses made its world premiere at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and now at VIFF festival. The films poignant observations about life, the soul, and the power of art give voice to those rarely heard in society weaves through it like a beautiful tapistery. Unarmed Verses is produced by Lea Marin and executive produced by Anita Lee for the NFB’s Ontario Studio.” Source NFB.
In viewing the film; the courage, intelligence and capability of the young girl, Francine Valentine who cared for her family and was able to see clearly what was happening as her community is re-located to build condos which would be too expensive for any of the community to buy was very powerful
She is an talented poet, student and shining light in the world. It is wonderful that she has been accepted into an arts school and will become an amazing asset to Canadian society.
As she mentioned in the documentary: ” Youth need to learn to empower themselves. It is important to have someone believe in them .”
Earlier, I had a wonderful interview with Charles Officer about this well done, sensitive and empowering documentary. He spoke of the need for governments and communities to realize the powerful effects that their decisions make on marginalized people and talked about his commitment to the problems of gentrification, economics and the need to for their stories to be heard. Charles is an amazing director with many credits and part of the upcoming TV series 21 Thunder which began June 19th. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6145878/fullcredits
Officer has also done such documentaries as Mighty Jerome, the NFB feature on Canadian sprinter Harry Jerome, the recent CBC documentary The Skin We’re In, and the drama feature Nurse. Fighter. Boy, which garnered 10 Genie nominations in 2008.
For an insightful interview. http://www.cbc.ca/radio/q/why-i-direct-charles-officer-1.4096127
Current update on Unarmed Verses after HotDocs from Katja De Bock, NFB.
Unarmed Verses opened the 14th EIDF Documentary Film Festival in Seoul, Korea. The film was well received. Similar matters around revitalization, disconnection between citizens, developers and lawmakers is happening across the country as well. This is a worldwide problem and that needs to be addressed.
Unarmed Verses was screened at Toronto City Hall and hosted by Councillor Shelley Carroll, who also appears in the film. Council members were present, but Mayor John Tory was absent. I have been trying to get him to come see the film, but no luck. I have a lot of respect for Councillor Carroll, it was brave of her to initiate the screening and communicate how much she did learn from the film, and taking in the experience of those living it. Sydney, Q’mal and Lavane were present and had an opportunity to update Council member son the aftermath of revitalization.
What’s next for Charles Officer:
He is currently in production with a new feature documentary, Invisible Essence: Le Petit Prince. The film explores the mystery and magic of the universally popular novella written by Antoine de St. Exupery. Also re-writing a mini-series adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s Don of a Smaller Hero. Charles is a talented filmmaker who has an important message to the world.
A great doc to see! Previously reviewed on The World Poetry Café Radio Show, 105.FM CFRO and was linked to www.worldpoetry.ca and the Afro News.