Unarmed Verses

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Canada | 2017 | 86 minutes | Charles Officer

A vivid and thoughtful documentary about a community on the edges of Northeastern Toronto that faces imposed relocation. At the center of the story is a luminous and insightful 12-year-old girl who goes on a transformative journey to find her voice through a local music program.

Capturing the lingering pace of an introspective existence and the sentiment of human relationships, Unarmed Verses highlights an authentic reality that would be impossible to artificially recreate. Director Charles Officer's feature documentary centers on a family living in low-income housing called the Villaways in Toronto, Canada. This complex is undergoing a revitalization project that is posing an imminent threat to their livelihood. Through managing hardship, enchanting 12-year-old lead Francine Valentine finds serenity in music, poetry, art, and faith. Her youthful virtue is matched with objective and moving observations of the people and world around her that reflects infectious optimism and selflessness. The film illustrates the definition of community, one that is hanging on the brink of eviction through gentrification being disguised as the blueprint for a better future. While following the lives of the residents of Villaways, viewers are reminded of the core of the human experience; that there are psychological needs that are universal. Among them, Charles Officer's poignant feature touches on the desire to love and be loved, to create something meaningful with our time on Earth, and the drive to do the best with what we are given.

Director Biography
Charles Officer is a Jamaican-Canadian writer, director, actor, and former professional hockey player. He studied communication design at the Ontario College of Art and Design and then left to continue his education of visual arts at Cambridge in the U.K. After playing professional hockey for several years and suffering an injury, he later attended the Neighborhood Playhouse of Theater in New York City. He completed his educational journey in filmmaking by graduating from the Canadian Film Center in 2002.

Sponsored by Canadian Studies Center at UW, Consulate General of Canada

  • Director: Charles Officer
  • Premiere Status: US
  • Country: Canada
  • Year: 2017
  • Running Time: 86 minutes
  • Producer: Lea Marin
  • Screenplay: Charles Officer
  • Cinematographers: Mike McLaughlin
  • Editors: Andres Landau
  • Music: Menalon
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Filmography: Unarmed Verses (2017); Mighty Jerome (2010); Nurse.Fighter.Boy (2008)
  • Language: English
  • Format: DCP
  • International Sales: National Film Board of Canada