An unforgettable 12-year-old girl speaks for a Toronto community facing change
Named Best Canadian Feature Documentary at Hot Docs 2017, Charles Officer’s powerful National Film Board of Canada production Unarmed Verses returns to the big screen in Toronto at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W., starting Friday, October 6. There will be a Q&A with producer Lea Marin and guests from the film on opening night, October 6; and with director Charles Officer and guests from the film following the 8:30 p.m. screening on Monday, October 9.
The film was hailed by critics during its world premiere in Toronto this past spring, with Matt Fagerholm of RogerEbert.com writing, “Unarmed Verses is both about poetry and a work of poetry in itself,” and Ezra Winton in POV magazine declaring, “Unarmed Verses is a cultural intervention that will undoubtedly be added to the documentary canon in this country.”
As Toronto audiences get their second chance to see this acclaimed work, festival-goers at the Vancouver International Film Festival can watch Unarmed Verses on Wednesday, October 4, at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, and on Friday, October 6, at the Rio Theatre.
Officer’s debut feature, Nurse.Fighter.Boy, premiered at TIFF in 2008, screened in Berlin and at MoMA, and garnered 10 Genie nominations, including for Best Picture and Best Director. His debut feature documentary was the 2010 NFB production Mighty Jerome, winner of four Leo Awards and a Regional Emmy Award.
About the film
With Unarmed Verses, acclaimed Toronto director Charles Officer offers up a thoughtful and vivid portrait of a community facing a difficult transition, when the largely low-income residents of a rental housing block in the city’s northeast end are threatened with imposed relocation due to the impending demolition of the place they call home. At the centre of this story is 12-year-old Francine Valentine, a curious and compassionate girl whose astute observations and innate ability to express her thoughts belie her young age.
Francine’s remarkably insightful reflections on life, the self, and the soul are beautifully framed by her love for art of all kinds, from poetry to drawing, dancing, and music. The difficult realities of her existence—poverty, girlhood, family rifts, and community tumult—are no match for this bright and expressive youngster. Francine and her peers are aided through their community’s transition by teachers and mentors who show them the power of art and creativity in navigating adversity.
While Francine’s unforgettable voice speaks for an entire community facing change, Unarmed Verses gives agency to those who are rarely heard in society. Her transformative journey transcends a simple coming-of-age story: it mirrors our universal need to express ourselves, find our voice, and belong.
Lea Marin is an award-winning Toronto based producer with more than 18 years of experience in the film and television industry. A graduate of the Canadian Film Centre’s Producer’s Lab, Lea joined the National Film Board of Canada as a producer in 2006. Her recent film credits include Unarmed Verses, directed by Charles Officer, and As the Crow Flies directed by Tess Girard both produced in 2016;
Other credits include, My Prairie Home, directed by Chelsea McMullan, which premiered at the Sundance film festival, and was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award in 2014; the interactive documentary, The Next Day, which premiered at IDFA in 2011, and Astra Taylor’s critically acclaimed theatrical documentary, Examined Life, which launched at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2008.
About the NFB
The NFB is Canada’s public producer of award-winning creative documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories and participatory experiences. NFB producers are embedded in communities across the country, from St. John’s to Vancouver, working with talented creators on innovative and socially relevant projects. The NFB is a leader in gender equity in film and digital media production and is working to strengthen Indigenous-led production, guided by the recommendations of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. NFB productions have won over 5,000 awards, including 18 Canadian Screen Awards, 17 Webbys, 12 Oscars and more than 90 Genies. To access NFB works, visit NFB.ca or download our apps for mobile devices.
Source: National Film Board of Canada (NFB) – September 20, 2017 – Toronto –