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Other tongues 

With Languages of Nova Scotia, AFCOOP presents five brand-new short films in languages that are not English.


Languages of Nova Scotia
Thursday, November 29, 7pm
Paul O'Regan Hall, Halifax Central Library
5440 Spring Garden Road

The predominantly English local film scene will get mixed up this week, courtesy of the Languages of Nova Scotia screening. An initiative of the Atlantic Filmmakers' Co- operative, on Thursday five directors will present their debut shorts, made in their native languages.

"For us it was a bit of a question mark, we weren't sure what kind of applications we were going to get," says AFCOOP's Languages co-ordinator Iain MacLeod. "There are very established networks of communication within Halifax. But some of the communities are spread across the province, and there's more involved with getting the word out."

It worked. As part of the process, the co-op ran intensive workshops in the areas, placing language-speakers or community members at the helm whenever possible. The resulting films—Apija'simk by Trevor Gould (Mi'kmaw), The Party by Jinos Akhtarkhavari (Farsi), Slighe Agnais/A Journey for Agnes by Jenny MacKenzie (Gaelic), Return Flight by Suzan Oram (Maritime/American Sign Language) and L'Acteur by Jana Doiron (French)—offer a more representative cross-section of the province.

click to enlarge COURTESY SUZAN ORAM

"You have to go after your language groups and I have been involved with the Acadian Franco community here—they're really mobilizing and looking for a voice," says Doiron, who's just returned after many years in Montreal. "This makes me feel like Nova Scotia is bigger than just the Halifax area, or the Anglo area. We were exposed to one another and we felt that there's really diversity here that can be celebrated. The program's amazing."

"All the filmmakers are intending to continue," says MacLeod. (Doiron, for her part, confirms this.) "We're really happy about that. We're hoping they become involved in our organization and some of our programs. There's a learning curve and we still have a lot of work to do, but our goal is to be as inclusive as possible, and demonstrate the voices of all of Nova Scotians."

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