Antigonish International Film Festival

By Submitted Article
First published on October 6th 2016

movie-poster“I lost faith in the police.” – Sherry Good, plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against Toronto police.

This year’s Antigonish International Film Festival (AIFF) will include the sensational and disturbing film Toronto G20 Exposed; revealing how reckless and illegal police actions against innocent citizens can produce disastrous harm. This documentary shows how police authorities during the three-day global summit in Toronto  (2010 G20 summit) caused humiliation and suffering to more than 1000 people arrested and held in makeshift jails in “inhumane conditions” during the summit event. Included were peaceful protestors, journalists, legal observers, tourists and bystanders. The vast majority of those were eventually released with no charges, and without any wrongdoing ever specified or explained to a court.  If you believe you are entitled to walk your street and enjoy the protection of the police without being arrested, you may want to think again. This was a shameful mass arrest unlike any other in Canada, instigated not by just a few bad apples; this was planned and put into effect with directions from the highest echelon of the Toronto police force; the one which displays the motto “To Serve and Protect”.

Now hundreds of those people mistreated and held in degrading confinement at a makeshift detention centre have won the right to proceed with legal actions against police authorities. Two class actions law suits have been approved and are proceeding. These lawsuits are brought to preserve and affirm the fundamental civil rights of those individuals who were held by police without good cause. At the heart of each is the unlawful “kettling” action employed by police indiscriminately against citizens walking on the streets of their own city, something we take for granted in every Canadian city or town. Six years ago during this G20 summit it was demonstrated that we Canadians cannot take that assumption for granted, we need to be vigilant and protest against illegal police behaviour whenever it occurs.

The filmmakers had access to numerous eyewitness videos and firsthand accounts from victims who claim serious civil rights abuses and flagrant violations of their Charter rights. Many had gone downtown simply to see what was going on, only to find themselves forcibly dragged away by police and locked up. The decision of the Court of Appeal, Ontario’s highest court, emphasizes that police cannot arrest a group of civilians “as a way of ‘fishing’ for particular individuals”. It also highlights the role these class actions would play in forcing police behaviour to change

This year, to mark our 10th anniversary, 10 years during which we showed over 300 films, AIFF is offering a bonus film on Sunday (at 151 Nicholson Hall). It is called Human. It was three years in the making during which filmmakers visited 60 countries and interviewed over 2000 people. The film deals with the human spirit, the search for happiness, love, and answers to the question “What Does it Mean to be Human?”. The documentary will be presented by itself on Sunday afternoon to mark the occasion of AIFF’s ten years of success.

The price for an all-inclusive pass to all the festival films is deliberately kept low: $15 regular or $5 for unwaged and students. Get more information at the AIFF website or on our Facebook page



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