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NFB feature Ninth Floor premieres in D.C. and Chicago during National Caribbean American Heritage Month. Explores a watershed moment in Caribbean-Canadian race relations history



May 26, 2016 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) feature documentary Ninth Floor will be featured at two U.S. festivals in June during National Caribbean American Heritage Month.

Exploring a watershed moment in Caribbean-Canadian race relations history, Ninth Floor revisits the infamous 1969 Sir George Williams Riot―an event that began quietly when a group of Caribbean students started to suspect their professor of racism, but ended in the most explosive student uprising Canada had ever known.

Written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Mina Shum, the 80-minute film will debut in the Washington, D.C., metro area on June 11 at 2:00 p.m. at the AFI Silver Theatre as part of DC Caribbean Filmfest, followed by a June 16 date in Chicago at the Facets Cinémathèque, as the closing night film of the African Diaspora Film Festival. Ninth Floor will be screening in Chicago at 8:30 p.m. following a 7:30 p.m. reception, in an evening sponsored by the Québec Government Office in Chicago.

To make Ninth Floor, Shum met with the original protagonists in Montreal and locations across Trinidad. In a cinematic gesture of redemption and reckoning, she listens as her subjects set the record straight—and lay their burden down.

Named to Canada’s Top Ten, an annual list of the country’s best films chosen by a Toronto International Film Festival panel, Ninth Floor is a project that Trinidadian-born NFB producer Selwyn Jacob has wanted to make for more than 40 years, since he felt the repercussions of the Sir George Williams Riot during his own student days at the University of Alberta.

Cinematography by John Price evokes a sense of subterfuge and paranoia, while a spacious soundscape by Miguel Nunes and Brent Belke echoes with the lonely sound of the coldest wind in the world. Ninth Floor is executive produced by Shirley Vercruysse for the NFB.

Quick Facts

  • On February 11, 1969, Montreal riot police stormed the occupied floors of the Hall Building, now part of Concordia University, to end a student occupation. As fire consumed the university’s ninth-floor computer centre, a torrent of debris rained onto counter-protesters chanting racist slogans―and scores of young lives were thrown into turmoil.
  • Mina Shum’s first feature, the NFB-co-produced Double Happiness (1994), premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won a Special Jury Citation for Best Canadian Feature Film and the Toronto Metro Media Prize. Shum’s second and third features—Drive, She Said (1997) and Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity (2002)—also premiered at TIFF. Her short films include Me, Mom and Mona, which won a Special Jury Citation at the 1993 Toronto Film Festival, and, most recently, I Saw You (2013).


Associated Links

National Caribbean American Heritage Month
AFI Silver Theatre – June 11
Facets Cinémathèque – June 16
Québec Government Office in Chicago
Canada’s Top Ten

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  • About the NFB

    Founded in 1939, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is a one-of-a-kind producer, co-producer and distributor of distinctive, engaging, relevant and innovative documentary and animated films. As a talent incubator, it is one of the world’s leading creative centres. The NFB has enabled Canadians to tell and hear each other’s stories for over eight decades, and its films are a reliable and accessible educational resource. The NFB is also recognized around the world for its expertise in preservation and conservation, and for its rich and vibrant collection of works, which form a pillar of Canada’s cultural heritage. To date, the NFB has produced more than 14,000 works, 6,500 of which can be streamed free of charge at nfb.ca. The NFB and its productions and co-productions have earned over 7,000 awards, including 11 Oscars and an Honorary Academy Award for overall excellence in cinema.