This Week at The Bloor: 11/7/14

The Secret Trial 5

An in-depth look at an ongoing thirteen year nightmare for five Canadian families, The Secret Trial 5 examines the shadowy and highly unethical concept of detaining those suspected of having committed or potentially committing crimes to be held on “security certificates.” A remnant from the Cold War, these certificates state that the Canadian government can arrest and detain a subject for as long as they want without ever charging someone for a crime with a case based on secret evidence only the government can see and the accused and their legal counsel are not allowed to look at.

It’s not the prerogative of filmmaker Amar Wala to advocate for the innocence of those arrested, but to strikingly detail the pain of the unknown and the moral quandary faced by a government that clearly has something to hide.

The Secret Trial 5

Told through the stories of several people who have been detained (and in some cases, released) since 2001, the film still sports a somewhat ambiguous ending (despite now being ostensibly completed after screening earlier this year at Hot Docs in a semi-finished form), and it seems to be hedging bets on a grander resolution. After watching it the first time in the spring, I remember wanting something more because the final third felt tenuous. Now that there has been significant movement in the interim, something still feels missing because not much has been added. Then again, it’s a story that’s so aggravating for the people involved precisely because of a lack of resolution and ambiguity.


Overall, it’s a comprehensive look at a malleable, antiquated, useless legal loophole. It could, and probably should, inspire a series of films on the subject in the same vein as Joe Berlinger’s Paradise Lost films. This won’t be over any time soon, and this one will be worth coming back to as the events depicted in it keep changing.

Filmmakers and special guests will be present for Q&As following all screenings.


Slums: Cities of Tomorrow

Generally looked down upon by supposedly refined city dwellers, “slums,” or areas where “homeless” “squatters” and “migrants” congregate (sometimes illegally) have been categorized as a sometimes necessary urban blight. City, state, and federal governments around the world generally find them to be eyesores that need to be razed and demolished immediately. But what if there’s something that could be learned from the sense of ingenuity and community that seems to be unique to these social systems?


That’s the main question asked by filmmaker Jean-Nicolas Orhon in this dry, but informative meditation on a world where now 80% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. From a tent camp situated almost perfectly between NYC and Philadelphia and snow covered Turkish cabins to the dirty streets of Bangalore and caravan communities in Marseilles, Orhon talks with the people on the ground about how they’ve survived for so long and combines those interviews with on-point talks with academics, social workers, and sociologists who see real worth in the creation of these self-sustaining communities.

Slums Cities of Tomorrow

While Orhon only pays fleeting lip service to the some of the more negative aspects of this form of communal living (crime, the potential for disease), there’s an interesting point to be made about how these areas can represent the best that a city has to offer, and how the population of these communities are often the hardest working and most valuable elements to the local economy. It’s a great approach that definitely gives viewers something to think about.

Director Jean-Nicolas Orhon will participate in post-screening Q&As on Friday, November 7.


Also at The Bloor This Week:


In honour of the centennial of the end of World War I on Saturday, November 8th at 6:30pm, The Bloor will hold a special screening of Bruce Bairnsfather’s 1928 silent film Carry On, Seargeant! with live musical accompaniment from indie rockers Hilotrons.

For Remembrance Day on the 11th, there will be a free screening of the Soulpepper Theatre’s production of Billy Bishop Goes to War at 4:00pm, which boasts an excellent Oscar Peterson performance in the lead. For free, it’s more than worth checking out.

The Planet in Focus film festival will wrap up Sunday night at The Bloor with a screening of the documentary Dark Side of the Chew, which we covered in our festival round-up here.

Also on Tuesday the 11th at 7:00pm, Bloor Members can get in on a free advance screening of one of next week’s offerings, Emptying the Skies. You can catch it before we do! But you have to be a Bloor Cinema member. Might be a good idea to get on that. There are plenty of perks.


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