Unarmed Verses

Charles OfficerCanada85 minutes2016GColourEnglish

Mon
Jan 15
Thu
Jan 18
  • This screening is eligible for our "Rush" policy. Ticket–holders: please be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the screening. If the event goes Off Sale, we will sell tickets to the Rush line 10 minutes before the start of the screening based on availability.
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Intro and Q&A with director Charles Officer

Charles Officer's deeply affecting Unarmed Verses — winner of the Best Canadian Feature Documentary prize at Hot Docs — follows Francine Valentine, a sensitive, shy, and fiercely curious adolescent, as she discovers the power of poetry, of music, and of her own voice. Officer spent over a year documenting Francine and her family, and much of his film is devoted to her involvement in a songwriting and recording program run by the grassroots community-building organization Art Starts. Though clearly gifted, Francine battles both her diffidence and deep-seated insecurities about her identity. (A single, profound shot of her bedroom wall depicts a poster of two girls — European and Asian in appearance — identified through graffiti as "perfect.") Living with her father, elderly grandmother, and brother in a Toronto Community Housing project, Francine is also facing relocation to make way for a new mixed-use development, an index of the city's relentless gentrification and a lack of concern for existing residents. All of this is assembled seamlessly and lyrically by Officer, whose skill is especially evident in his delicate use of sound — as befits his intriguing, young subject.

STEVE GRAVESTOCK

Le profondément touchant Notes d'espoir de Charles Officer — lauréat du prix du meilleur long métrage documentaire canadien à Hot Docs — s'intéresse à Francine Valentine, une adolescente sensible, timide et foncièrement curieuse, alors qu'elle découvre le pouvoir de la poésie, de la musique et de sa propre voix. Officer a passé plus d'un an à documenter la vie de Francine et de sa famille. Une grande partie du film est consacrée à son implication dans le programme d'écriture et d'enregistrement de chansons de l'organisation communautaire populaire Art Starts. Bien que manifestement douée, Francine doit surmonter sa modestie et ses insécurités bien enracinées à propos de son identité. (Un unique plan évocateur du mur de sa chambre montre une affiche où se trouvent deux filles, en apparence européenne et asiatique, identifiées par un graffiti comme étant " parfaites ".) Vivant avec son père, sa grand-mère âgée et son frère dans un projet domiciliaire communautaire de Toronto, Francine doit également composer avec un déménagement afin de faire de la place pour un nouveau projet d'aménagement à usage mixte; un exemple de l'incessant embourgeoisement de la ville et d'un manque de souci pour les résidents existants. Tout cela est assemblé harmonieusement et lyriquement par Officer, dont le talent est particulièrement évident en ce qui a trait à l'usage du son, ce qui convient parfaitement à sa jeune et intrigante protagoniste.

director
Charles Officer

Charles Officer is a British-Canadian filmmaker who studied at Cambridge University and the Ontario College of Art and Design. He worked as a graphic designer and creative director in Toronto before attending the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre in New York. He was the recipient of Hot Docs' Don Haig Award of Merit in 2012 and went on to direct an episode of Engraved on a Nation (12), which won a 2014 Canadian Screen Award. Officer has also directed episodes of the acclaimed television series Rookie Blue (11–15), Saving Hope (12–17), and Private Eyes (16– ). His films include the short Short Hymn_Silent War (02), his feature debut, Nurse.Fighter.Boy (08), as well as his documentary debut, Mighty Jerome (12), which won four Leo Awards and a Regional Emmy Award. Unarmed Verses (17) is his latest documentary.

Additional Credits

Director
Charles Officer
Production Company
National Film Board of Canada
Executive Producer
Anita Lee
Producer
Lea Marin
Canadian Distributor
National Film Board of Canada