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Ninth Floor

Directed by Mina Shum
Created by
Canada | 82 minutes | World Premiere
Artist: | World Premiere
In her first feature-length documentary, director Mina Shum (Double Happiness) takes a penetrating look at the Sir George Williams University riot of February 1969, when a protest against institutional racism snowballed into a 14-day student occupation at the Montreal university.

Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival

Women in Film Artistic Merit Award, Vancouver International Film Festival

Intro and Q&A with director Mina Shum and producer Selwyn Jacob, January 12 at 6pm and January 13 at 6pm

The complexity of activism is the subject of the powerful debut documentary feature from director Mina Shum (Double Happiness). The film begins with Expo '67 and its rosy vision of Canada as preternaturally tolerant, but the Caribbean students who came to Canada to study in the late 1960s were hardly welcomed with open arms. As one subject explains, Canadians are racist, but they feel the need to apologize for it. Not all felt that need, however: a lecturer at Sir George Williams College treated his black students so differently from his white ones that they took their grievances to the administration. After several disastrous missteps by the university, the school's computer department was occupied and a lengthy standoff ensued. Expertly combining archival footage and recent interviews to craft a portrait of genuine heroism, Ninth Floor is a timely reminder of the importance of civil disobedience, particularly in times when governmental powers go unchecked.

—Steve Gravestock

La complexité de l'activisme est au cœur de ce premier documentaire puissant de la réalisateur Mina Shum (Bonheur aigre-doux). Le film débute avec Expo '67 et sa vision pleine d'optimisme d'un Canada prodigieusement tolérant. Mais les étudiants caribéens qui arrivèrent au Canada pour étudier à la fin des années 1960 ne furent pas vraiment accueillis à bras ouverts. Comme l'une des personnes apparaissant dans le documentaire l'explique, les Canadiens sont racistes, mais ils éprouvent le besoin de s'en excuser. Cependant, tous n'éprouvent pas forcément ce besoin: un conférencier de l'Universite Sir George Williams traitait ses étudiants noirs si différemment des étudiants blancs qu'ils s'en sont plaints auprès des services administratifs. Après plusieurs erreurs désastreuses faites par l'université, le département informatique de l'école fut occupé conduisant à une longue confrontation. Combinant habilement images d'archives et récents entretiens pour élaborer un portrait de pur héroïsme, Ninth Floor est un rappel de l'importance de la désobéissance civile, en particulier en période où les pouvoirs gouvernementaux ne sont pas remis en question.