A two-day film festival at John Oliver Secondary, made possible by Reel Canada, has provide opportunities for high school students to view a selection of Canadian films and engage in discussions on Canadian identity and culture with important film industry icons such as Atom Egoyan (via Skype) and Liane Balaban.
On Wednesday, November 20, the entire John Oliver student body gathered in school spaces, converted into movie theatres, to view their choice of seven movie options. The next day the school hosted 500 English Language Learners (ELL) from around the district, many of whom are new Canadians negotiating the joys and challenges of being in a new country and community. Through some great Canadian titles, students got an opportunity to consider what it means to be Canadian through the medium of the movies.
The film festival was a terrific opportunity for John Oliver students to engage in an alternative learning environment that introduced real-world issues in the context of the Canadian experience and provided opportunities to discuss with actors, film makers, directors and community members the motivations and rationale behind the film themes and topics. At the same time it allowed new Canadian students to gain awareness of their own identity and their role as Canadian and global citizens.
This year was the fourth time John Oliver has hosted the film festival and the first ELL film fest the school has put on. Reel Canada generously provided the films, equipment and set-up free of charge to schools across the country.