Ingoma Nshya is Rwanda’s first and only all women’s drumming troupe. Made up of women from both sides of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the troupe offers a place of support, healing and reconciliation. When the group decides to partner with two young American entrepreneurs to open Rwanda’s first ever ice cream shop, these remarkable women embark on a journey of independence, peace and possibility. Sweet Dreams interweaves intimate, sometimes heart-wrenching stories, with joyous and powerful music to present a moving portrait of a country in transition. 2012 | 1 h 29 min Lisa Fruchtman & Rob Fruchtman
In this feature film, 8 elderly women find themselves stranded when their bus breaks down in the wilderness. With only their wits, memories and some roasted frogs’ legs to sustain them, this remarkable group of strangers share their life stories and turn a potential crisis into a magical time of humour, spirit and camaraderie. Featuring non-professional actors and unscripted dialogue, this film dissolves the barrier between fiction and reality, weaving a heart-warming tale of friendship and courage. 1990 | 1 h 41 min Cynthia Scott
Feminism has shaped the society we live in. But just how far has it brought us, and how relevant is it today? This feature documentary zeroes in on key concerns such as violence against women, access to abortion, and universal childcare, asking how much progress we have truly made on these issues. Rich with archival material and startling contemporary stories, Status Quo? uncovers answers that are provocative and at times shocking.
2014 Status Quo? The Unfinished Business of Feminism in Canada– Karen Cho, Director (Documentary, NFB) 87min.
After the Montreal Massacre, 1990, 27 min 14 s
December 6, 1989. Sylvie Gagnon was attending her last day of classes at Ecole Polytechnique, an engineering school in Montreal, when Marc Lepine entered the building. Systematically separating the women from the men, he opened fire on women students, yelling “you’re all a bunch of feminists.” Sylvie survived a bullet wound to the head while fourteen other women were murdered.
After the Montreal Massacre is a useful tool for helping us come to terms with these murders and how they relate to the larger picture of male violence against women. Women throughout Canada and the world are expressing a growing concern about the widespread violence and mounting fear in their daily lives. The haunting images taken on the day of the massacre and in the days following, set the stage for an exploration of the urgent issues of misogyny, male violence and sexism.
Testimony from Sylvie Gagnon about what the massacre means to her, conversations with a group of college students, and interviews with noted writers, feminist activists, and leaders of organizations for women, contribute to this moving and important documentary which provides a challenge for change in our political, social and personal lives.
1990 After the Montreal Massacre — Gerry Rogers, Director (Documentary, NFB/CBC) 27min.
This feature film in two parts is an exploration of the women’s suffrage movement. Spearheaded by women like Emmeline Pankhurst, founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union, the Suffragettes realized they would have to become radical and militant if the movement was going to be effective. There followed many demonstrations, and imprisonments until the women’s vote was finally granted, in 1918 (Britain) and 1919 (Canada, except Quebec.)
1958 Women on the March–Douglas Tunstell, Director (Documentary, NFB) 58mins.
This documentary takes an in-depth look at the witch hunts that swept Europe just a few hundred years ago. False accusations and trials led to massive torture and burnings at the stake and ultimately to the destruction of an organic way of life. The film questions whether the widespread violence against women and the neglect of our environment today can be traced back to those times.
1990 The Burning Times –Donna Read, Director NFB, 56min.
Nellie McClung was a political activist. She was also a charmer with a gift for oratory and a delightful sense of humour. Her spirited leadership rallied others to the cause of women’s suffrage in Manitoba in the early 20th century.
As a young girl, Nellie questioned traditional “women’s roles.” She recounts, for example, being an excited nine year old looking forward to her first small town public picnic. “I was hoping there would be a race for girls…. But the whole question of girls competing in races was frowned upon. Skirts would fly upward and legs would show! And it was not nice for little girls, or big ones either, to show their legs! I wanted to know why, but I was hushed up.” When she was sixteen, Nellie began teaching at a rural school. In a long skirt and starched blouse, she would play football with the students at recess. Some parents objected – Football was not a ladies’ game – but Nellie finally won the parents over with tact and good sense.
Nellie McClung’s personal commitment to women’s rights became her political cause as well. She began to speak out for female suffrage and to write fiction. Her novel, Sowing Seeds in Danny, is a witty portrayal of a small western town. Published in 1908, it became a national best seller, the first of her many literary successes.
Marriage, five children, and a successful writing career did not stop Nellie McClung from campaigning for women’s rights. Her concern for less fortunate women grew out of deep religious beliefs and devotion to her family. She had seen firsthand the suffering of women and children caused by neglect, overwork, poverty and alcohol abuse. “The real spirit of the suffrage movement,” she once wrote, “is sympathy and interest in the other woman, and the desire to make the world a more homelike place to live in.” Manitoba Women Lead Canada
Women’s suffrage was not a popular cause in Canada. Men and women were frightened that women’s rights would lead to the breakdown of home and family. McClung calmed these fears with reasonable discussion, personal charm, irrepressible humour, and her fanciful hats.
In 1912, Manitoba women formed the Political Equality League to improve women’s working conditions. The League convinced Premier Roblin that factory conditions for women were indeed terrible, but in spite of McClung’s eloquence, the League did not convince him that female suffrage was the remedy for such abuses.
To rally public support, the League held a Mock Parliament on January 28, 1914. The subject of debate was whether or not men should have the vote. A male delegation presented its case for male suffrage, and then “Premier” Nellie McClung rose to speak. She complimented the men on their splendid gentlemanly appearance, then she launched into her satiric attack: “Oh no, man is made for something higher and better than voting…Politics unsettles men, and unsettled men mean unsettled bills ? broken furniture, broken vows, and ? divorce!” The resounding success of the Mock Parliament lent energy and support to the League’s campaign. The 1915 election saw the defeat of Roblin’s Conservative government, and on January 28, 1916, Manitoba became the first Canadian province to give women the vote. Nellie McClung continued to fight for women’s suffrage in other provinces, and saw, slowly but steadily, tradition giving way to equality.