Last week saw the release of Gimme the Loot, the SXSW Grand Jury Prize winner by Adam Leon, which sees two graffiti artists seek revenge after their replica of the…
Director Tim Wolochatiuk’s docudrama We Were Children is an examination of Canada’s Indian Residential School system, as recounted by two survivors Lyna Hart and Glen Anaquod. Both Hart and Anaquod were torn from their families and reservation homes as very young children and shipped to residential schools in Manitoba and Quebec, respectively. Forced to speak English and punished for speaking their own languages, they were subjected to years of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse.
The movie is a harsh indictment of a shameful period in Canadian history and of the Catholic Church, but the mix of talking head testimony from Hart and Anaquod and movie-of-the-week quality dramatizations robs the film of the moral high ground. The filmmakers may have hoped that dramatic recreations of the tale would be more visceral to audiences, but watching in adorable, chubby-cheeked little girl be slapped by nuns and raped by priests just feels tawdry, sensational, and exploitative. The obvious pain and trauma expressed by Hart and Anaquod are so obvious and heart wrenching. The real shame of We Were Children is that these two survivors were not given a dignified forum in which to be heard.
Is We Were Children Essential imagineNATIVE Viewing?
No. There are many, many docs, non-fiction books, and novels about Canada’s policy of boarding Aboriginal children in abusive schools. Seek out a more dignified telling, historical or artistic account. The survivors of these houses of abuse deserve to be heard and respected, not further exploited.
We Were Children Screening Times
- Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 7:30pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox
Production Gallery from We Were Children
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