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Unarmed Verses

True North | Youth | True North

A story all-too familiar to Vancouverites: the residents of a low-income housing block fall victim to a city’s ongoing gentrification in Charles Officer’s poignant portrait of life on the fringe of northeast Toronto. The Valentines, a family of Antiguan immigrants who moved to Canada when the youngest daughter Francine was only four, are asked to vacate their already cramped home to make space for a costly high rise they’re economically barred from. Left with mere months to find an even smaller place to stay, Francine enrolls in a local arts workshop with a focus on poetry and music as she guides the rest of her family through the bureaucratic rigmarole accompanying this untimely transition. With the help of her peers and the wisdom from a collection of poems by Edgar Allen Poe, Francine installs herself as the artistic voice of a neighbourhood that has been continually silenced.

Unarmed Verses provides Francine and her family a platform from which they can literally sing and shout their stories. Personal in its scope but expansive in its implications, Francine’s message of hope and understanding comes through with confidence and clarity, even amidst this dire and increasingly prevalent situation.

"Few Canadian films have captured the power of raw, youthful artistic expression in the same way as Charles Officer’s moving documentary Unarmed Verses."—Andrew Parker, Toronto Film Scene

Best Canadian Feature Documentary, Hot Docs 17

Please note: this film has been rated, but screenings at the RIO are 19+ only. Youth tickets will be available for any screenings at our other venues.

Director Charles Officer
Country of Origin: Canada
Year: 2017
Running Time: 86 mins
Format: DCP
Classification: G - No advisory (RIO 19+)
Executive Producer: Anita Lee
Producer: Lea Marin
Cinematographer: Mike McLaughlin
Editor: Andres Landau
Music: Menalon
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada
Print Source: National Film Board of Canada
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