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Nations and Migrations

November 28, 2016 - May 31, 2017


Working with the curatorial guideposts of mobility, origins, community and belonging, Cinema Politica has selected a program of independent film and videos that highlight issues of nationhood and migration from both a historical and contemporary perspective.

Canada is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse places on the planet. Since the country's much-debated official policy of Multiculturalism was formed into policy over three decades ago, the Canadian “national project” as articulated through successive federal governments, has taken on as many forms as there are critical responses. Whereas Multiculturalism began with the promise of recognition and celebration of diversity (racial, religious and cultural), we have now moved into an era that Indigenous scholar Sean Glenn Coulthard has framed as “beyond recognition.”

The assertion of minority populations to determine their own social realities, institutions, cultural expression, political identification and imagined futures, amounts to a fierce reworking of what has been derisively dubbed Canada's "Benetton-Multiculturalism." Add to this the arrival of thousands of “new Canadians” each year, many of whom are refugees and who become migrant workers, and the old notion of nation-building demands a shift to one of nations-building in a new inclusive context of pluralism.

Following this, Nations & Migrations is a project that contributes to shifting political discourse and grassroots organizing engaged in articulating and building alternative visions and communities to the mainstream, liberal notion of what it means to be "Canadian." By privileging voices (in film and speech) from the peripheries of this ongoing discussion Nations & Migrations looks at troubling topics like Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism, chauvinist nationalism and more. But the project also explores important collective struggles around social justice, migrant rights and anti-racism work across the country and beyond. 

Whether it's #BlackLivesMatter, #IdleNoMore, #MigrantWorkersJustice or #NoOneIsIllegal, Canada's social movement fabric is rich, diverse and very much engaged. It is our hope that Nations & Migrations can pull togetehr some of the multi-facted threads and provide a platform for critical, engaged and movement-based discourse on these important issues.

Using film screening events as spaces for public dialogue, independent films as the generative spark, and guest speakers (including artists) as mediators in the discourse, we hope to contribute a unique, timely and urgent creative program of film and video devoted to these multifarious topics and issues.

Nations & Migrations is comprised of three main components, the first of which is our "Comfortable Truths" campaign (#comfortabletruths), which launches November 28th, 2016. The second component involves 4-6 "groundswell screening events" at locations across Canada, held between November 2016 and February 2017. The third is the continuing discussion online, across all the platforms we all know and love!


A timely film that privileges a diversity of Indigenous voices commenting on the lasting legacy of colonization in Canada, COLONIZATION ROAD challenges—with serious discussion and with humour—the normative historical narrative of nation-building. #IdleNoMore #Indigenous

“crossing"THE CROSSING
This disturbing documentary follows the dangerous migration of Syrian refugees to Europe, revealing the ways in which  belonging for some is a naturalized right, yet for others a politicized struggle for survival. Ultimately, THE CROSSING reminds us that those who leave their homes and seek refuge do not always find a hospitable society. #RefugeesWelcome #NoOneisIllegal                                                   

“crossing"THE HARD STOP
This UK production moves slowly, artistically and thoughtfully into a community hit hard by racialized violence wrought upon them by British police. In the end, we are left with both the wreckage of racism and an understanding of identity, community and belonging that commands the artistry and reflection this film delivers. #BlackLivesMatterUK #AntiRacism

Agricultural workers in a small Ontario town organize with allies to fight back against Canada's draconian Temporary Foreign Workers Program. A testimony of collective struggle, MIGRANT DREAMS throws a wrench in the "official" discourse of Canada as a firendly Multicultural democracy. #MigrantJustice #HarvestingFreedom


"Comfortable truths" are mainstream attitudes and ideas about nationhood, belonging and identity that, despite not being true (such as "immigrants have it easy in Canada"), have become so engrained in the Canadian imaginary and mainstream culture that they become orthodoxy. As part of Cinema Politica's Nations & Migrations project we reached out to activists and artists across the country and asked them to share their thoughts and reactions to these so-called truths. Watch this space as we continue to add new responses to "comfortable truths."

Borders justly define citizenship and belonging and those who cross them "illegally" are criminals.
Read Harsha Walia's response here.

Diversity does not necessarily have to extend to leadership in Canada, and that Indigenous folks should endure the "discomforts" of colonization.
Read Jesse Wente’s response here.

Canada is one nation, and nations are defined by governments.
Watch Yassin "Narcy" Alsalman and A Tribe Called Red's video here.

The lands that migrants and refugees leave behind are barren.
Read Rana Salah’s response here.

“Immigrants have it better in Canada"#ComfortableTruth:
Immigrants have it better in Canada than in their homelands.
Read Ala'a Jarban's response here.

“Immigrants have it better in Canada"#ComfortableTruth:
Canada’s healthcare is equally accessible for all.
Read Aaraón Diaz Mendiburo's response here.

“Migrants owe Canada for the opportunity to be here#ComfortableTruth:
Migrants owe Canada for the opportunity to be here.
Read Monica Gutierrez's reflections and view her video response here.

The act of migrating ensures comfort.#ComfortableTruth:
The act of migrating ensures comfort.
Read Shanice Nicole's response here.

Racialized communities have no reason to fear the police or governmental institutions#ComfortableTruth:
Racialized communities have no reason to fear the police or governmental institutions.
Read the reflections of LAL's member, Rosina, and listen to LAL's song / response here.

Anyone can take Inuit land, culture and stories.#ComfortableTruth:
Anyone can take Inuit land, share its culture and tell its stories.
Read and listen to Stephen Puskas' response here.

The media informs us about refugees in a fair and just way.#ComfortableTruth:
The media informs us about refugees in a fair and just way.
Read Narcy's poetic response here and watch his performance of the poem at the N&M launch here.


Nations & Migrations is a project supported by The Inspirit Foundation and the Conseil des arts de Montréal.

We are a national, grant-making organization that supports young people (aged 18 to 30) in building a more inclusive and pluralist Canada. One way we do this is by funding projects that foster engagement and exchange between young people of different spiritual, religious and secular beliefs.

Motivated by its mission to support and recognize artistic excellence, the Conseil des arts de Montréal identifies, supports and recognizes experimentation, discovery and boldness. Its policies stimulate innovation and promote emerging artists and cultural diversity. Through its grants, tours, residencies, awards, like the Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal, and mobilization initiatives, often created in partnership, the Conseil annually supports over 350 cultural organizations.


Nov 28
07:00 pm
George Kurian / NO / 2015 / 55 '
This film travels land and sea with Syrian refugees who give a firsthand account of harrowing journeys to new countries and their feats of struggle and hope.
Nov 07
07:00 pm
George Amponsah / UK / 2015 / 85 '
THE HARD STOP contextualizes the UK #BlackLivesMatter movement, moving past riot headlines and into the community affected by the police killing of Mark Duggan.
Oct 17
07:00 pm
Min Sook Lee / CA / 2016 / 88 '
A powerful documentary that exposes the under-told story of migrant agricultural workers struggling against Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

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