Collage of film stills

Citizen Minutes

 

Inspiring interest and engagement in Canadian democracy and public affairs by exploring and celebrating stories of civic participation across the country.

The Citizen Minutes project is eight short films commissioned by Hot Docs, and produced by Lisa Jackson (producer, Door Number 3 Productions) and Lauren Grant (producer, Clique Pictures).

Watch at Hot Docs Festival >>

Broadcast partner Bell Media.

Man being interviewed

Nourrir les Rêves

  • SYNOPSIS

    In 2007, Lasallien Center opened their doors in St-Michel—one of the most disadvantaged boroughs on the island of Montreal. Nourrir les Rêves introduces audiences to Paul Evra, the young altruistic director who grew up there and is leading the center and their mission to help feed the numerous families in the area who are food insecure.

  • CREDITS

    Directors: Kimberley Ann Surin & Aïcha Morin-Baldé
    Cinematographers: Thomas Soto
    Editor: Myriam Magassouba
    Sound Recordist: René Portillo Ruiz
    Composer: Alexis Elina

    Runtime: 6 MIN
    Country: Canada

  • DIRECTOR BIOS
    Headshot

    KIMBERLEY ANN SURIN

    Based in Montreal, Kimberley Ann is a Haitian-Canadian filmmaker. She graduated in 2016 from Pennsylvania State University in Communications - Film and TV. Over the years, she had the chance to work on a variety of interesting and different projects, from fiction to documentary, advertising and promotional commercials to publicity, as well as animation. In 2020, she directed and wrote her first documentary Against All Odds, a short film about the lack of diversity in professional and junior hockey with retired NHL player Georges Laraque as main protagonist. Her focus in all her creative work is to uplift the voices of Black, marginalized, and under-represented talent in front of and behind the camera. Kimberley Ann is currently in development of a feature-length documentary and feature-length drama film.

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    AÏCHA MORIN-BALDÉ

    Aïcha was born and raised in Montreal of French-Canadian and Guinean descent. After graduating in Film & Communications, she completed two consecutive internships at established production companies. She has since accumulated extensive experience as a director, producer, editor and production coordinator, and has worked on various types of web productions including web series, fiction, music videos and documentaries. Using the camera to elevate black voices and stories has always been the driving force behind Aïcha's work. She is passionate about creating films that help grow Black representation in media and consistently aims to shine the spotlight on the unique individuals in her community. Her first short film Knots explores Black women's relationships with their natural hair and the stigmas surrounding it. It premiered at the Toronto Black Film Festival and will also be available at FIFBM in September 2021. She is currently writing her first short drama, a feminist piece on the subject of abortions. 

  • ARTIST STATEMENT

    Working on this film, we had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with the rich community of St-Michel. Although none of us were from the neighbourhood, they made us and our team feel right at home. 

    We would like to thank Nathan Zoh Bi, Kendra Coulibaly, Pau Evra and his dedicated team, and all the other participants who took the time to speak with us. We would also like to thank Hot Docs for making this film possible and for supporting the Black French-Canadian community of Montreal. 

Woman shouting

BODY POLITICS

  • SYNOPSIS

    In a fatphobic image-conscious world, educator, activist and eccentric cat-lady-turned-politician Dr. Jill Andrew takes her fight for body justice, human rights, representation, access and equity to the legislature as the first queer Black person elected as a member of provincial parliament. Here’s a glimpse into a 40 year story of becoming told through the eyes of her filmmaking partner...Don’t blink!

  • CREDITS

    Director: Aisha Fairclough
    Writer: Aisha Fairclough
    Editor: Pauline Decroix

    Runtime: 8 MIN
    Country: Canada

  • DIRECTOR BIO
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    AISHA FAIRCLOUGH

    Aisha Fairclough is a filmmaker and television producer. She has developed, researched and produced unscripted content for several networks including Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) Canada, Slice, HGTV, Showtime, Global TV, Food Network Canada, TVO, CBC and Crave. She is an alumni of Reelworld Film Festival’s E20 Emerging program.

    Also the co-founder of Body Confidence Canada, Aisha sits on the board of Inside Out LGBTQ+ Film Festival serving as Strategic Planning Committee Chair and on the advisory council for the Ryerson University School of Fashion. Aisha’s cheeky quotes on fashion and body positivity can be found in Toronto Star, Metro, Etalk, Refinery 29, Huffington Post, BBC, CTV News and Essence Magazine. She once brought her fashion chops to the small screen as Lead Stylist on the primetime series Sex with Sunny Megatron on Showtime.

    In 2019 she graced the cover of Chatelaine Magazine's June/July Issue celebrating her body-positivity and in 2020 she was a featured artist in Buddies in Bad Times Queer Pride Analogue Project celebrating Pride in Place. Aisha currently lives in Toronto with her partner and their two cats Josephine Baker and Dorothy Dandridge.  

  • ARTIST STATEMENT

    Many people say politicians do not work hard. Well, they haven’t met Jill. To me she’s just Jill—the tireless workaholic who wears her heart on her sleeve and passionately champions humanity at every turn. I want to share a small piece of who I get to see every day with the world. As a filmmaker I want to tell the stories not often told from perspectives that are routinely overlooked. As a Black queer woman, mine is a lens not often seen or heard. We are here and our stories matter.

Construction hoarding

EXCLUDED BY DESIGN

  • SYNOPSIS

    Writer and community organizer Dave Meslin thinks that bad public notices are hurting our democracy—and he's calling on graphic designers to show us what we're missing.

  • CREDITS

    Directors: Simon Madore, Gabriel Tougas
    Producer: David Beata
    Writer: Chaz Beaudette
    Cinematographers: Robert Mentov, Shauna Townley
    Editor: Chelsea Bennett
    Sound Recordist: Igal Petel
    Composer: Mario Lepage

    Runtime: 3 MIN
    Country: Canada

  • DIRECTOR BIOS
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    SIMON MADORE

    Simon Madore is a French-Canadian filmmaker based in Toronto with almost two decades of experience in the television industry. Throughout that time he has worked on multiple documentary series addressing issues of public concern in Canadian society; subjects like globalism, plastic pollution and language rights in Canada. Headshot

    GABRIEL TOUGAS
    Gabriel Tougas is a filmmaker and television director based in Winnipeg. Over the past decade, he has written and directed more than fifty hours of French-language lifestyle and documentary programming, broadcast nationally on TVA, TFO, SRC, AMI-télé and APTN. Frequent themes in Gabriel's work include environmentalism, cultural identity and youth engagement. 

Illustrated group of men

THE GIFT

  • SYNOPSIS

    A lesson in compassion and generosity results in a lifelong gift. Set in a small Northwestern Ontario town, a father takes an opportunity to pass on important teachings to his daughter.

  • CREDITS

    Director: Rachel Garrick
    Cinematographers: Rachel Garrick
    Editor: Nadine Arpin
    Illustration: Don Ningewance
    Narration: Rachel Garrick
    Sound Recordist: Rachel Garrick 

    Runtime: 3 MIN
    Country: Canada

  • DIRECTOR BIO
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    RACHEL GARRICK

    Rachel Garrick is a band member of Lac Seul First Nation and resides in Hudson, a small community in Northwestern Ontario. The last film she worked on, as Producer, was titled, "Jane and the Wolf". It was screened at local, national and international film festivals and broadcasted nationally on APTN. She participated in the Docs North Film Bootcamp in Thunder Bay and is also an NSI Aboriginal Documentary 2015 alumni.

Jean Swanson

JEAN SWANSON:
WE NEED A NEW MAP

  • SYNOPSIS

    A profile of veteran activist and first-term Vancouver city councillor Jean Swanson as she works alongside the next generation of anti-poverty activists fighting systemic inequality.

  • CREDITS

    Director: Teresa Alfeld
    Cinematographer: Vince Arvidson
    Editor: Lawrence Le Lam
    Sound Recordist: Caisha Thompson

    Runtime: 7 MIN
    Country: Canada

  • DIRECTOR BIO
    Headshot

    TERESA ALFELD

    Teresa Alfeld is a director from Vancouver and the unceded Coast Salish territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations. She is a member of the Director’s Guild of Canada, and the Documentary Organization of Canada. Teresa is drawn to complex characters navigating complicated worlds, and her films embrace both the humour and pathos of the human experience.

    Teresa’s feature documentary The Rankin File: Legacy of a Radical (produced with Opus 59 Films) was the opening night gala film at DOXA Documentary Film Festival in 2018, and had its broadcast premiere on The Knowledge Network in 2019.
    Teresa has written and directed several award-winning short comedy-dramas including Closet Carnivore (2004), Charlie Gauvin (2012) and Roadkill (2013), which have screened at film festivals across Canada.  

    Teresa will be directing her second feature documentary Doug and the Slugs and Me for CBC documentary Channel (with Opus 59 Films) in 2021. 

  • ARTIST STATEMENT

    I first met Jean Swanson over ten years ago at the Poverty Olympics, an event protesting excessive spending on the 2010 Vancouver Olympics while the homelessness crisis raged on. I was taken aback by Jean - this soft-spoken older woman commanding the attention of the packed Carnegie Centre as she spoke clearly and emphatically about the need to end legislated poverty. We later reconnected when I made my first documentary about Harry Rankin and the progressive movement he helped build in Vancouver, and which Jean was a large part of. Since then I’ve had the privilege of getting to know her as a colleague and friend.

    Often called the “Canadian Bernie Sanders,” Jean has the credibility and integrity forged through a decades-long career fighting the systems that keep people entrenched in poverty. Now that she is in her first elected role as a city councillor, it’s been fascinating to watch Jean navigate creating change from inside government, while also working alongside the next generation of activists.

    Jean Swanson: We Need A New Map features Jean candidly reflecting on the highs and lows of her forty-year career of activism, and what it means to dedicate your life to effecting change. My hope is for this documentary to inspire folks young and old through witnessing Jean’s incredible journey and the tenacity that has defined her career. I hope audiences will also be galvanized by the energy and dedication of Jean’s young colleagues Sara and Ishmam, and that viewers will consider their own paths towards becoming civically engaged.  

Family portrait

mending a crack in the sky

  • SYNOPSIS

    Shamso Mohamoud and Shamso Elmi both lost their sons to violence and watched their alleged killers walk free without so much as a legal prosecution. Now, the two Somali-Canadian mothers have organized a group “Mending a Crack in the Sky” to collectively combat gun violence and hardship while facing cultural and racial barriers.

  • CREDITS

    Directors: Roble Issa & Zach Jama
    Cinematographers: Alex Tse
    Editor: Lawrence Jackman
    Sound Recordist: Jason Milligan 

    Runtime: 8 MIN
    Country: Canada

  • DIRECTOR BIOS
    Headshot

    ROBLE ISSA

    Roble Issa is a Somali-Canadian filmmaker based in Toronto. After graduating with a degree in Psychology from York University, he pursued a career in film, starting as a screenwriter before making the transition to directing. His work explores themes such as identity, coming of age, and mental health.

    Headshot

    ZACH JAMA

    Zach Jama is a documentary filmmaker and engineer. He studied his BASc in Systems Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo in Canada and his MFA in Cinematic Arts in Jordan. In 2019, Zach graduated with a Master of Science (MSc) in Art, Culture and Technology from MIT. 

Woman walking on train tracks

MILITANT MOTHER

  • SYNOPSIS

    To get to class on time, children from the Raymur Place social housing project were forced to jump shunting train cars that stood in their path. In 1971, after months of petitioning for a safe crossing, a group of mothers made their voices heard by blockading CN rail from delivering goods.

  • CREDITS

    Director: Carmen Pollard
    Writer: Carmen Pollard
    Cinematographers: Claire Sanford, Grant Baldwin
    Editor: Carmen Pollard
    Composer: Brent Belke
    Sound Design & Mix: Chris McLaren

    Runtime:  8 MIN
    Country: Canada

  • DIRECTOR BIO
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    CARMEN POLLARD

    Carmen Pollard is a Canadian filmmaker focused on stories that centre underrepresented voices and perspectives within the arts, social and climate justice. She has worked throughout her professional career as a director, editor, producer and digital compositing artist. Her award-winning work has been broadcast throughout North America, has screened theatrically, on Netflix, and at festivals worldwide.

Woman in rearview mirror

RIDE FAIR

  • SYNOPSIS

    Three fearless community organizers with a history of standing up against big tech corporations, embark on an uphill political fight to regulate Uber and Lyft in Toronto so that these companies operate in the public interest, respecting communities, drivers and passengers.

  • CREDITS

    Director: Javier Lovera
    Cinematographer: Javier Lovera
    Additional Cinematography: Juan Angel
    Editor: Lawrence Jackman, Maria Todorov-Topouzov
    Sound Recordist: David Dunlap, Elias Fuentes

    Runtime:  7 MIN
    Country: Canada

  • DIRECTOR BIO
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    JAVIER LOVERA

    Javier is a filmmaker and photographer exploring the intersection between technology and society. With a M.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering, he is an alumni of DOC Breakthrough Program, RIDM Talent Lab, and Hot Docs Deal Maker. Select clients include The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, FASHION Magazine, BMW, NIKE, and ROOTS.