On November 27, students from Cathedral High School took part in a unique experience at the Toronto International Film Festival LightBox.
Through a generous grant opportunity, students and staff were invited to attend the screening of award-winning documentary “Unarmed Verses” and followed up the film viewing with a panel discussion with the film’s producer and cast.
The film not only touched upon relevant issues of gentrification but also inspired viewers to find their own voice in the midst of struggle.
“This movie showed me that there’s always hope at the end of the day, as long as we continue to truly live,” said Mohamed Elawad, a member of the school’s 30 North Poet group which meets once a week to produce their own poetry at the school.
“A poet once said: ‘happiness always comes after sadness,’ and that was probably the main theme from this movie – that the characters have suffered hardships and yet still push through and are pursuing their talents,” he expanded.
Students were also given a chance to ask the panel questions and engaged with them in an authentic and unique way.
Said Sasha Stec: “Seeing the film and talking with the cast helped our community become one with theirs, to feel their unity, pain, and strength.” Stec attended with members of her Grade 12 English class.
The excursion is hopefully the first of many.
“To say that going to Toronto and watching the film was just a trip is a huge understatement,” said attendee, Edward Bui. “To me, it was an experience I’ll never forget.”
“The camera shots in ‘Unarmed Verses’ made it less like a documentary and more of a journey along the perspective of the main character Francine…the panel, the walk through and exploring the city, felt like an adventure.”