Into the Light from NFB
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher
(November 27, 2020 – Toronto, ON) It’s not an excuse but sometimes things get a little too busy and we miss important stories. We missed one earlier this week. On November 25 the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) launched a documentary online that we all need to pay attention to. All documentaries are, by their very nature, created to help us learn more about the world we live in. Sometimes the world in focus is a vast and barren snowscape from northern Canada, sometimes it is so close to home it is painful to watch because it can touch in ways and stir our emotions in ways that remind us we are human and there are those around us who use their power or strength or anger to hurt others.
November 25th was an important day. It was International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. As few other documentary producers can, the NFB has the resources to reach out beyond the big screen or, in this case the small screen, and extend the message of their films into the community. The film that is the impetus behind this effort is titled Into the Light from the highly talented director Gentille M. Assih.
The 79 minute documentary features the liberating life stories and powerful words of inspiring Québec women of African origin who’ve regained control over their lives after suffering from domestic violence. As the NFB describes it, the film “transcends prejudice and breaks the silence, pulling back the curtain on a poorly understood, hidden world, while testifying to the tremendous power that comes from overcoming isolation and accepting one’s self.”
Into the Light follows Christiane (pictured above), a high school French teacher, and her friend Aïssata, who works in finance. They had no clue that the process of immigrating to Canada and integrating into a new culture would contribute to the breakup of their families, which fractured as a result of domestic violence. Along the way, we meet Chouchou and her husband, a younger couple who’ve recently arrived in Canada; an imam; a pastor; an African motivational speaker; friends who had no idea what they were going through; a doctor during a medical appointment; and even Christiane’s father in her country of origin, Togo. As we meet the people around them, we come to understand the depths and complexity of their experience and the courage it takes to reclaim control of their lives. They make a powerful and positive impact.
As mentioned, the impact of this film extends beyond its mere screening. The documentary’s release marked two annual campaigns for the prevention of violence against women, with two virtual discussion panels available Canada-wide in early December. Both will provide opportunities for discussions with members of the film’s production team and experts on the subjects of women’s shelters for victims of domestic violence and welcoming immigrants.
The French-language panel, organized by the NFB, will take place on December 1 during Quebec’s 12 days of action to end violence against women, which conclude on December 6, in commemoration of the Polytechnique massacre.
The English-language panel will be presented by Women’s Shelters Canada on Thursday December 3, beginning at 7 p.m. EST, as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, and will feature:
– Patricia Vargas, Director, Children, Family and Community Service at Catholic Community Services of Alberta;
– Margarita Pintin-Perez, Senior Coordinator, Initiative to End Gender-Based Violence at OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants;
– Nathalie Cloutier, NFB Producer and Executive Producer.
The panel will also include video messages by director Gentille M. Assih, Christiane Zanou, Aïssata Cisse and Chouchou Assih. It will be moderated by Leah Stuart-Sheppard, Knowledge Exchange Coordinator at Women’s Shelters Canada.
You can watch the panels by using Zoom. There is a link allowing you to register on this page.
The film is free online at NFB.ca. Click here to watch Into the Light.
Learn more about director Gentille M. Assih.