In March, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is celebrating unique voices in film from a diverse array of individuals. This month, it is highlighting the perspectives of women and Inuit filmmakers and, like most of its collection, the NFB will be offering these films free of charge. The first two presentations are feature-length documentaries which will be released on March 8 in honour of International Women’s Day.
The first is called In Full Voice. Directed by Saïda Ouchaou-Ozarowski, this documentary focuses on six Muslim women living in Canada who share their perspectives on identity and life experiences to dismantle negative stereotypes about Islam and the prejudice surrounding Muslim women. Ultimately, the film’s progression shows a common thread — a desire for freedom and equity.
Ouchaou-Ozarowski wrote, “Whether practising or not, [the film’s subjects] embody their own versions of Islam, and are quick to dismiss conflations and stereotypes, refusing to be stigmatized.”
In her statement, she said, “I am honoured to have had the opportunity to engage with these women, mothers and citizens. Each meeting is one more step toward a multidimensional, human vision of Islam.”
The second film, titled What Walaa Wants, is directed by Christy Garland. This award-winning documentary tells the story of a rebellious girl named Walaa who was raised in a refugee camp in the West Bank and is intent on one day becoming a policewoman in the Palestinian National Security Forces.
The documentary follows Walaa from ages 15 through 21 as she navigates complex relationships with her disapproving family, works through the challenges that face her and learns which rules need to be followed and which rules deserve to be bent.
Another film — to be released March 14 — is The Storm, an animated short written and directed by Monica Kidd, who reflects on the experience of becoming a mother during the COVID-19 pandemic. As much as the film is about uncertainty, it also presents a glimmer of hope for the future.
Starting March 19, the NFB will also be providing virtual access to an interactive installation called Traces, which is currently installed at Expo 2020 in Dubai. Traces was created by an architect collective named Kanva, multimedia designer and art director Étienne Paquette and consulting firm Creos. The NFB states the installation “offers a poetic vision of an uncertain future and a reflection on our present.”
Last but not least is short documentary Evan’s Drum, directed by Inuk journalist Ossie Michelin, which will be available beginning March 21. Evan’s Drum follows a mother and son who share and pursue their passion for Inuit drum dancing together in the small town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L.
The documentary’s present-day focus is interwoven with Labrador’s history of colonization and reflects on the cultural pride that new generations of drummers like Evan have brought back to its communities recently. The film is a celebration of Inuit culture and familial relationships.
You can check out these films as they are posted throughout the month on the National Film Board’s website at nfb.ca.