Foreign and/or Family



These films are based on the experiences of families from near and far, questioning strongly held beliefs about circumstances that weigh us down, while highlighting strategies that help us succeed.

Themes: moral complexity, friendship, poverty, gender roles, adolescence, death, family

Recommended for grades 6-7

This program screens as part of REEL FOCUS for elementary schools.

If You Fall

Eight year old Lila takes on the daunting task of learning how to ride a bicycle as she faces an unfamiliar role-reversal at home. Without your parents holding on to you, there’s still a comforting reassurance in knowing that your family is always there to catch you if you fall. 

Note: Director Tisha Deb Pillai will be in attendance at a Q&A

Themes: family, supporting each other, gender roles, trust, art


La Mariposa

In Spanish with English subtitles.

With so many invisible barriers to success, a family from Latin America is working to accept Canada as its new home. Seven year old Carol's persistent efforts to pass a swimming test epitomizes the family's struggle to tread water in a new country where its credentials and experience are not recognized. La Mariposa is a heartwarming story of acceptance, perseverance and personal transformation. 

Note: Director Andy Alvaraz will be in attendance at a Q&A

Themes: immigrant experience, family, swimming, personal growth

Negative Space

Sam's dad is constantly leaving on business trips. Since there aren’t so many opportunities to connect, Sam bonds with his dad over the finer points of efficiently packing a suitcase, a skill that he's naturally adept at. Effective travel preparation is elevated to the level of high art in this heartwarming and dry humoured stop motion animation, which just happens to be nominated for an Academy Award.

Themes: family (father/son), death, memory

Advisory: A funeral scene is handled with humour.


In Arabic with English subtitles.

This fictional narrative introduces a cast of first time actors, who are also survivors of war. The film reveals their personal experiences of loss and new beginnings in Canada. Rupture, which recently won an emerging director award at the Toronto International Film Festival, follows the journey of four Arab youngsters through a BC suburb on their quest to find the public pool. With modern stylizing and insightful perspective, director Yassmina Karajah creates a powerful on-screen experience, inviting viewers to identify with newcomers and those dealing with painful backgrounds. 

Note: Director Yassmina Karajah and some of the cast will be in attendance for a Q&A

Themes: immigration, language barrier, fitting in, family, death, adolescence

The Glass Pearl

In Swedish with English subtitles.

There are very few choices available to a young person gripped by the paralyzing shame of living without the same economic privilege as their peers. The Glass Pearl is an absorbing and tender story that asks us to engage critically with its themes. Relatable, emotive, and morally complex, this is an accomplished portrait of a twelve year old boy who resorts to dumpster diving, searching for something that might lead to a reward.

Themes: poverty, family, survival, childhood, manipulation, law enforcement

Advisory: Depiction of a minor stealing and escaping custody.