Education through Film: 14 must-see BIPOC stories at the 2020 OFFA Film Festival - Visit Oakville
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Education through Film: 14 must-see BIPOC stories at the 2020 OFFA Film Festival

The Oakville Film Festival has always provided a stage for diverse talents to shine through and this year is no different. 

Whether it be comedy, drama, documentary or short format, there are plenty of ways to take in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) stories through this year’s online screenings. 

Keep reading below to learn more about these featured films:

I Am Here: 

A young Syrian sister and brother, separated during the civil war, have a chance to be reunited years later through the power of poetry, persistence and friendship.

Q&A June 17, 2020 9:15 p.m. EDT: With Amalia Williamson/Matt Long (I am Here), Corey Mayne (Willa), Constance Hilton (Mute), Courtenay Lazorka (Online), Cathleen MacDonald (Deescalate) Sarah Gonyea (Cosmo), Mark Brombacher (The Paperboy), Amanda Wright and Gabriel Dinardo, Co-Directors (541: A Place for the Community), Alec J Macri (Dagwood’s Brig)

Director: Amalia Williamson, Matt Long

Writer: Catrina Dygert, Matt Long, Paul Daniel Torres

Cast: Shadia Shunnara, Alex Mousavi, Faly Mevamanana, Karie Richards, Victoria Murdoch, Alexandre Neves

Date and Time:

Available: June 17, 2020

Runtime: 20 minutes

Language: English

Country: United States

Showstopper:

Anisha, an insecure model, rebels against her Mother’s wishes of becoming the showstopper in the upcoming fashion show with her passion for boxing.

Director & Writer: Jacquile Kambo

Cast: Ziyana Vasaya, Chandni Appadurai, Gunjan Kundhal, Shastina Kumar, Haniel Glow

Date and Time:

Available: June 18, 2020

Runtime: 12 minutes

Language: English

Country: Canada

Our Home:

A Latin American family is celebrating the birthday of their youngest child until they get rudely interrupted by two immigration officers.

Director & Writer: Andy Alvarez

Cast: Magda Ochoa, Jose Vargas Caballero, Sabrina Miniaci, Sara Gutierrez, Max Valdieso-Kudell, Montserrat Powell, Alejandro Herrera, Shonna Morgan, Robert L Duncan

Date and Time:

Available: June 18, 2020

Runtime: 10 minutes

Language: English

Country: Canada

Queen of the Morning Calm:

Tina Jung (of CBC’s Kim’s Convenience) gives a moving performance as Debra, a mother struggling to balance maintaining her dignity with the needs of her daughter, Mona, and her love for Mona’s semi-absent addict father. Inspired by events in her own life, director Gloria Ui Young Kim spent eleven years getting this story from script to screen.

Queen of the Morning Calm is a refreshing and triumphant presentation of a young woman’s resolve to escape a seemingly interminable cycle of poverty and abuse – a cycle that sadly dominates the experience of so many immigrant sex workers in Canada. It holds the potential to stimulate meaningful conversations about the exploitation of sex workers that has become rampant in Canada in recent years.

Q&A June 19, 2020, 9 p.m. ETD: Will follow film with Director Gloria Kim and lead actress Tina Jung.

Director & Writer: Gloria Kim

Cast: Tina Jung, Eponine Lee, Jesse LaVercombe, Shaun Benson and Zahra Bentham

Date and Time:

Available: June 18, 2020

Runtime: 87 minutes

Language: English

Country: Canada

A Long Weekend with May Blossom:

Two women with a different understanding of communication try to connect with each other.

Director & Writer: Chorong Kim

Cast: Darlene Tait, Sima Saxena

Date and Time:

Available: June 19, 2020

Runtime: 6 minutes

Language: English

Country: Canada

Tokens:

Tokens is an 8-part fun-loving, satirical comedy about the actors of an “on call casting” agency specializing in diversity casting. Whoever is “on call” is randomly dispatched to producers desperate to hit their diversity quotas, often in a role they least expect. Think Uber for actors. Betty the dispatcher is confident her actors can rise to the challenge and doesn’t mind shaking up the industry.

Director: Winnifred Jong

Writers: Winnifred Jong and Trinni Franke

Cast: Connie Wang, Shelley Thompson, Christina Song, Russell Yuen, Jesica Greco

Date and Time:

Available: June 19, 2020

Runtime: 10 minutes

Language: English

Country: Canada

Water Be Dammed…:

We live on “the blue planet”, abundant with water. Yet, we are now facing a crisis created by decades of mismanagement, unlimited depletion and pollution of the earth’s water bodies, issues accelerated now by climate change. So how did we reach this crisis point? Through the lens of Satluj river in Punjab, India, our documentary tells a story that by not following the four pillars of water sustainability – science, economics, governance AND spiritual connection, we have damned one of our most precious resources.

Q&A June 20, 2020, 12:15 p.m. EDT: with Romila Verma (Writer/Producer Water Be Dammed), Dir. Sebastien Pins (Traces), Dir. and writer Sarah Wray (Guardians of the Grasslands)

Director: Vanita Khanna

Date and Time:

Available: June 20, 2020

Runtime: 35 minutes

Language: English

Country: Canada

Yarne:

The money earned by 11-year-olds Sonam and Tashi for doing prayers is only enough to share one small Coke. Sonam is lucky to even get a sip before Tashi, the monastery bully, drinks the entire bottle. Yarne is an annual six-week period when Buddhist monks remain within the monastery grounds for focused study and practice, yet for child monks, it’s more like house arrest. Tired of wasting his money, Sonam decides to save up every rupee he earns during Yarne to buy a soccer ball, but first he will have to stand up to Tashi.

Director & Writer: Andrew Krakower

Cast: Dawa Dorjee, Konchok Rangdol

Date and Time:

Available: June 20, 2020

Runtime: 15 minutes

Language: Nepali

Country: United States

Laura:

Laura, a young half Indigenous woman undergoes a conversation with her lawyer Mr. Wilson to determine how to present her case before the court. Mr. Wilson attempts to keep the process positive, but his ignorance begins to make Laura question her identity and her place in society.

Q&A June 21, 2020, 9:15 p.m. ETD: with filmmakers Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn to follow the screening, as well as short filmmakers Kaayla Whachell (Laura)

Director & Writer: Kaayla Whachell

Cast: Farrah Hart, Lee Shorten, Tanner Collins

Date and Time:

Available: June 21, 2020

Runtime: 14 minutes

Language: English

Country: Canada

Tsi Teyoto:te: Even in the Silence:

A visual poem told entirely in Kanien’keha (Mohawk language) that examines the impacts of underage drinking in Indigenous communities and the struggle to overcome grief and past traumas through culture and traditional practices.

Director & Writer: Jonathan Elliott

Cast: Chanin Lee, Andrew Hill

Date and Time:

Available: June 21, 2020

Runtime: 4 minutes

Language: Kanien’keha

Country: Canada

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open:

Áila, returning home emotionally tender and exhausted from a difficult appointment with her OB-GYN, finds a terrified, barefoot and heavily pregnant Rosie shivering out in the rain. Clearly in need, Rosie is paralyzed: caught between escaping her violent boyfriend heard screaming from across the street and having nowhere to go. Frightened by the escalating danger, Áila grabs Rosie and urges her to move quickly to the safety of Áila’s nearby apartment. Thus begins a long, tense afternoon of bare instinct – both of survival and of motherhood—as the two Indigenous women from very different backgrounds, seek some semblance of stability and safety for themselves and each other. A love poem to women, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open weaves a compellingly simple story around the complex themes of racialized female bodies, a country’s failure to support its most vulnerable youth, and the continuing effects of colonial violence.

Q&A June 21, 2020, 9:15 p.m. ETD: with filmmakers Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn to follow the screening, as well as short filmmakers Kaayla Whachell (Laura)

Director & Writer: Kathleen Hepburn, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers

Cast: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Violet Nelson, Charlie Hannah, Barbara Eve Harris

Date and Time:

Available: June 21, 2020

Runtime: 105 minutes

Language: English

Country: Canada

Tangle:

Tangle is about the people who lost their homes in the war and were forced to leave all their memories and loved ones behind. It is also about life and striving to survive on the geographical borders of hope and depression while reaching for all the things that can connect us to this water and land in spite of constantly getting ignored and interrupted.

Director: Maliheh Gholamzadeh

Date and Time:

Available: June 22, 2020

Runtime: 8 minutes

Country: Iran, Islamic Republic of

Only Death Never Lies:

When a grandson escorts his beloved Iranian grandfather to a doctor’s visit, they are told that the grandfather is terminally ill. The grandson needs to translate the bad news, but decides to bend the truth. By doing so he hopes he can keep him alive longer, but at the same time he has to carry the burden of his lie.

Q&A June 22, 2020 9:30 p.m. EDT: Filmmakers to follow the screening including Jaqueline Godbout (Cheat Meal), Florence Pelletier (Sainte- Tite), Dekel Berenson (Anna), Sam Yazdanpanna (Only Death Never Lies), Kristina Thomas (House of Balls), Carmen Puche More (La Benvinguda)

Director: Sam Yazdanpanna

Writer: David Henrichs

Cast: Ali Fardi, Hamid Reza Javdan, Monic Hendrickx

Date and Time:

Available: June 22, 2020

Runtime: 15 minutes

Language: Arabic

Country: Iran, Islamic Republic of

House of Balls: 

A down on her luck law school dropout moves back home to Oakland after dumping her fiancé in Chicago to discover a female dodgeball league that makes her face her biggest threat: herself.

Q&A June 22, 2020 9:30 p.m. EDT: Filmmakers to follow the screening including Jaqueline Godbout (Cheat Meal), Florence Pelletier (Sainte- Tite), Dekel Berenson (Anna), Sam Yazdanpanna (Only Death Never Lies), Kristina Thomas (House of Balls), Carmen Puche More (La Benvinguda)

Director & Writer: Kristina Thomas

Cast: Mariah Robinson, Grace LaRocca, Kaitlyn Jenkins, Maya Nalli, Maiya Jovan, Donavan Sanders

Date and Time:

Available: June 22, 2020

Runtime: 9 minutes

Language: English

Country: United States

For more information about films, showtimes and how the festival will operate online, visit offa.ca.