June Chua

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June Chua is a Canadian journalist and an award-winning filmmaker who has worked as a writer, reporter and producer with the CBC in radio, television and online. Her documentary, using 2D animation, "Travels With My Brother" (about how an autistic man sees the world) captured a directing prize in 2012 from the National Screen Institute and was screened at the MET Museum in New York and at festivals around the world. Her commentaries have appeared on CBC.ca, the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Canadian Living. Her essay, "I Am Canadian," was also published in the anthology Strangers in the Mirror (Tsar Books 2004), musings about minorities in Canada. An avid traveller, she has visited more than 40 countries. Find out more at junechua.com

Hot Docs hits Toronto

Six to see at Hot Docs. From the film If a Tree Falls: A story of the Earth Liberation Movement
It's that time of year again -- the celebrated documentary festival runs in Toronto from April 28 to May 8.

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El Salvador documentary digs into country's pain and hope

El Salvador documentary digs into country's pain and hope.
Return to El Salvador is essentially a call to arms, in the best sense.

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El Salvador documentary digs into country's pain and hope

Return to El Salvador is essentially a call to arms, in the best sense, to the world to not forget this hard-scrabble Central American nation.

Return to El Salvador is essentially a call to arms, in the best sense, to the world to not forget this hard-scrabble Central American nation whose civil war, seemingly continued long after peace was negotiated in 1992.

The film, created with the One Horizon Foundation, is well-shot and contains some searing elements that will keep your eyes on the screen. It is more of a community activist film than a documentary. Of note is that it bears occasional narration by the peerless Martin Sheen -- long a union activist and all-round humanist. (When Sheen and his son Emilio Estevez were in Toronto for the film festival in September, they walked the picket lines with striking hotel workers).

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‘A Different Path’ charts creative ways to ditch cars

‘A Different Path’ charts creative ways to ditch cars.

Every year at Toronto's Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, I get blown away by one film -- usually a documentary that hasn't gotten much attention and when I watch it, it's like being under a spell.

Such is the case this time with A Different Path -- an inventive and illuminating documentary made by American artist and musician Monteith McCollum. I don't have enough adjectives to describe the immersive, mesmerizing and magical ride the director brings you on in highlighting the efforts of activists in four locales, challenging our car-centric culture.

Coca-Cola doc chronicles a bitter battle

A stunning documentary chronicles the efforts of American lawyers trying to take the soft drink giant to court over the killings of 10 union leaders in Columbia.
A stunning documentary chronicles the efforts of American lawyers trying to take the soft drink giant to court over the killings of 10 union leaders in Columbia.

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Coca-Cola doc chronicles a bitter battle

A stunning documentary chronicles the efforts of American lawyers trying to take the soft drink giant to court over the killings of 10 union leaders in Columbia.

"As soon as the union was formed, the trouble started," intones the brother of murdered Columbian union leader Isidro Gil ominously at the start of The Coca-Cola Case, a documentary co-production by the NFB and Argus Films.

The 86-minute film chronicles the relentless efforts of American lawyers trying to take the soft drink giant to court over the killings of 10 union leaders, who represented workers at Coke bottling plant s in Colombia.

The documentary splits its time nicely between two battles: the court fight waged by Daniel Kovalik, lawyer for the United Steelworkers union, on behalf of Columbian union members and the public awareness crusade of Ray Rogers, who directed the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke.

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A set of sizzling films at 2014 Hot Docs

Photo credit: Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case

More than 190 documentaries from 43 countries will be featured in this year's Hot Docs Canadian international documentary festival with a slew of special events -- including appearances by hard rocker Alice Cooper for Super Duper Alice Cooper, Star Trek's George Takei at the screening of To Be Takei and The Measure of All Things Live Documentary in which Oscar-nominated director Sam Green will live-narrate his film about stories from the Guinness Book of World Records accompanied by a live soundtrack from New York band The Quavers.

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Cairo composition recalls horror of crackdown

Photo: Anita Zvonar

"It's like making soup," said musician and composer Frank Horvat when describing how he creates his compositions. In Horvat's case, we are talking serious soup. The Toronto-area resident is about to see the premiere of his latest piece, "8/14/13 – Cairo" -- a day that is seared into his memory.

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Line in the Sand project dissects Northern Gateway pipeline

Jean-Philippe Marquis and Tomas Borsa, co creators in St. James, B.C.

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You could say Tomas Borsa and his buddies have drawn a "line in the sand" between anger and activism. Spurred by what they saw as the lack of deeper public and community input into the environmental risks of a twin pipeline that would run 1,177 kilometres between Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, B.C. the gang got their game on.

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Nepal's social, political changes captured in photographs

Shreejana Pradhan, Vice President, National Indigenous Women's Federation.

It wasn't until photographer Surendra Lawoti moved to Canada from the U.S. that he realized he was a transnational -- someone whose sense of identity is tied to more than one country.

"I love Canada, but Nepal is also a strong part of who I am," asserts Lawoti.

Born in Nepal, Lawoti has spent almost half his life in North America, arriving in the U.S. in 1994 at age 21 to pursue a degree in photography at Columbia College in Chicago and then an MFA at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. The artist moved to Canada in 2008 and is now a permanent resident.

"In the U.S. I wasn't allowed to fly back and forth to Nepal because of visa restrictions," explains the Toronto-based artist. "When I moved here, I had the freedom to come and go."

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