Unarmed Verses

Canada 2017. Dir: Charles Officer. 85 min. DCP

Charles Officer's deeply affecting Unarmed Verses — named Best Canadian Feature Documentary at Hot Docs - follows Francine Valentine, a sensitive, shy, and fiercely curious adolescent discovering the power of poetry, music, and her own voice. She lives with her Antiguan immigrant family in a low-income housing project in Toronto. Officer spent over a year documenting Francine’s involvement in a song-writing program run by the grassroots community-building organization Art Starts. Though gifted, Francine battles both her diffidence and deep-seated insecurities about her identity. Her family also faces relocation to make way for a new development, an index of the city’s relentless gentrification and lack of concern for existing residents. All of this is assembled seamlessly and lyrically by Officer, whose skill is especially evident in his delicate use of sound — as befits his intriguing, young subject. — Steve Gravestock, TIFF


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REVIEWS

"A poignant, blossoming 86-minute experience about the power of art (among other things)."

The Globe and Mail | full review