Movie Night in Canada: Marker of Change: The Story of the Women's Monument

    1 of 4 2 of 4

      So far for Movie Night in Canada, we've received recommendations from film industry folk for dramas, comedies, and horror so it's high time we insert a documentary into the mix. We have a recommendation for a documentary that may have flown under many peoples' radars but tackles an important but divisive issue in Canadian society.

      The first documentarian who responded to our call for recommendations of the most obscure, underrated or unusual Canadian cinematic gems was Vancouver filmmaker Joella Cabalu.

      Cabalu made a short film called "StandStill", in which she documented her attempt to get her Catholic parents and gay brother to resolve the silent tension between them that existed after her brother came out.

      She's now working on a sequel to her film, in which she travels to the Philippines to interview gay and transgender relatives.

      Filmmaker Joella Cabalu

      Her recommendation is the documentary Marker of Change: The Story of the Women's Monument.

      On December 6, 1989, a gunman, who claimed he was fighting feminism, shot and killed 14 female students at Montréal's Ecole Polytechnique. The Montréal Massacre, as it became known, sent shockwaves across the nation.

      The event was dramatized in the 2009 film Polytechnique, starring Karine Vanasse, by director Denis Villeneuve (who went on to film Incendies, Enemies, and Prisoners).

      Prior to that film, director Moira Simpson (who has some of her films available for viewing on the National Film Board of Canada website) made a documentary in 1998 entitled Marker of Change: The Story of the Women's Monument, about the efforts of Vancouver feminists who wanted to create the first national monument to pay tribute to all women who were murdered by men.

      The initiative sparked controversy and debate, even including a bomb threat. The project became a seven-year-long journey to create the monument.

      Here's what Cabalu had to say about the film:

      As a resident of Mount Pleasant and a lover of public art, it was surprising to learn about the history of the Women's Monument located in Thorton Park at Main and Terminal, an area overlooked by transit commuters and visitors and occupied by transients and the occasional farmers market. I immigrated to Canada in the early 1990s at a young age, so I was unaware of the 1989 Montreal Massacre of 14 young women at Montréal's Ecole Polytechnique, which the monument commemorates and honours. The documentary follows the journey of the Women's Monument project from its inception and captures the complexities and challenges associated with discussing issues of violence against women and systemic gender and racial inequality that continues to prevail today.

      The Women's Monument project resulted in the creation of Marker of Change, a 300-foot circle of 14 Laurentian pink granite benches in Thornton Park (at Main Street and Terminal Avenue) in Vancouver.

      The documentary helps to illuminate the debate and discussion about issues involving violence against women. Also, it gives viewers an opportunity to reflect upon what has and hasn't changed in our country.

      It's a thoughtful choice as it helps us to better understand the complexities of our community and country and reconsider various points of view. 

      Though it was our first documentary recommendation for Movie Night in Canada, it's certainly not our last, as we've got plenty more lined up so stay tuned, True North believers.