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Filmmaker Yung Chang's recommended films and writing

Filmmaker Yung Chang's recommended films and writing

on
September 22nd, 2020
Filmmaker Yung Chang's recommended films and writing

This week's guest curator of great Canadian content is director Yung Chang. He's best known for his 2007 documentary debut, Up the Yangtze, which drew international attention to the impact of China's Three Gorges Dam project on rural families; it was one of the top-grossing documentary box office releases in 2008 and garnered numerous awards. His most recent documentary This is Not a Movie made its debut at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. Produced in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada, the film spotlights the prolific career of Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk. As a Chinese-Canadian who rarely saw himself and his community reflected in the media when he was growing up, Yung has selected two films and a book that highlights stories that often go unheard.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing (novel)

I recently revisited Jan Wong’s Red China Blues, one of my all-time favourite memoirs about journalism and identity. The climax covering the Tiananmen Square Massacre is riveting, heart-wrenching prose. It’s time to readdress Jan Wong’s importance as one of the most important journalists in Canada. Her unfair treatment in 2006 following her coverage of Montreal's Dawson College shooting would be laughed at in today’s world. Madeleine Thien’s Giller prize-winning novel, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, is an epic time-spanning drama combining mythology and history into an evocative and beautiful meditation on memory and culture. My paternal family is from Shanghai, where the story is set, and this book brings me back to a past where I could imagine my family’s struggles. — Yung Chang

Learn more about this book and where to find it here.

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Unarmed Verses (feature documentary)

One of Canada’s top filmmakers (and former pro-hockey player, I might add), director Charles Officer follows 12-year-old Francine Valentine as her Toronto Community Housing project is set for demolition. Paralleled with the ongoing battle against gentrification, Francine's quiet persona strengthens into an activist’s voice with the support of Art Starts, a music program. Originally released in 2016, this is a beautiful, forever relevant and cinematic film. — YC

Unarmed Verses can be streamed for free on NFB.


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Murmur (feature film)

I first saw this so-called docufiction film at TIFF ’19 and it was by far my favourite film of the festival. The first feature from Halifax director Heather Young, this is a devastating and quietly emotional story about a woman in her sixties who is sentenced to community service at an animal shelter after an impaired-driving conviction. Driven by the talented Young’s assured filmmaking craft, and a once-in-a-lifetime performance by non-professional actor, Shan MacDonald, Murmur is hybrid filmmaking at its strongest. — YC

Murmur will be available on iTunes on October 16, and available for pre-order October 9.

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