The Confucius Institute (CI) initiative is a multi-billion dollar Chinese language program found in over 1,500 universities and schools across the world. As new Institutes open at a rate of one every week or two, a global controversy grows at academic institutions around the world as scholars, parents and others question the program’s political influence and purpose.

When Canada’s largest school board is slated to open the world’s largest Confucius Institute, the school trustees find themselves embroiled in this controversy. Joined by a former instructor, hundreds of disgruntled parents launch a campaign to have the institute closed and are confronted by supporters.

Doris Liu

Doris Liu

Into this controversy steps filmmaker Doris Liu and the result is her award winning documentary In the Name of Confucius

Five Questions With spoke with Liu about the challenges she faced in making the film which screens at the One World Film Festival on Saturday September 26. 2017.

How did you get in involved in making this film?

As a Chinese-Canadian journalist, I’ve spent years covering news stories related to China and the Chinese diaspora in the Greater Toronto area. In early 2013, I read a Globe and Mail article about McMaster University closing down its Confucius Institute because of the discriminatory hiring policies against which a former instructor, Sonia Zhao, had filed a complaint. The story caught my eye right away as it related to the topics I was interested in: Chinese-Canadians, Canada-China relations, and education – I myself was a university teacher back in China and I also studied education after my immigration.

At first, I didn’t know much about the Confucius Institute (CI) although I heard of it long ago and knew it teaches Chinese language. I did a quick Google search and found lots of concerns and criticisms about the institutes, not only in Canada.

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Here are some photos from today’s screening at the Ottawa Indie Fest : Canadian Documentary Shorts screening at the 26th annual One World Film Festival at the National Gallery.

Curators Ed Kucerak, Blair Campbell, Jith Paul and Filmmakers Jennifer Robbins, Mar Y Sol and Howard Adler. Photo: Emily Ramsay

Curators Ed Kucerak, Blair Campbell, Jith Paul and filmmakers Jennifer Robbins, Mar Y Sol and Howard Adler. Photo: Emily Ramsay

The 26th annual One World Film Festival programme centrefold featuring Ottawa Indie Fest's Short Documentary Screening

The 26th annual One World Film Festival programme centrefold featuring Ottawa Indie Fest’s Short Documentary Screening Photo: Jith Paul

Congratulations to Mar Y Sol whose short film 'Sayachapis', about a residential school survivor who now lives in isolation on Indian Island was awarded Best of Fest (Short Film) by the jury of the 26th annual One World Film Festival this evening. She is pictured here with festival manager Jessica Ruano.

Congratulations to Mar Y Sol whose short film ‘Sayachapis’, about a residential school survivor who now lives in isolation on Indian Island was awarded Best of Fest (Short Film) by the jury of the 26th annual One World Film Festival this evening. She is pictured here with festival manager Jessica Ruano. Photo: Jith Paul

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22. September 2015 · Comments Off on Five Questions With Mar Y Sol, Director of “Sayachapis” · Categories: Documentaries, Five Questions with..., Ottawa, Short Films · Tags: , , , , ,
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Photo of Mar Y Sol by Jesse Mckinnon

“This film for me has a lot of meaning. My first thought about it is how does one come to terms with their past. If Sayachapis was able to heal himself from his suffering, if he found the strength to get help and heal himself, anybody can do it”, filmmaker Mar Y Sol tells Ottawa Indie Fest when we spoke to her about her award winning documentary film Sayachapis which screens at the One World Film Festival on Saturday September 26, 2015.

Named “52” for ten years, Sayachapis now lives alone on Indian Island, a small island off grid off the coast of Vancouver Island. A residential school survivor, he remembers vividly the hard labor, starvation, rape, broken bones and unimaginable horrors from the years gone by. “I am still alive, I am still ok.”

Update: Ma Y Sol’s Sayachapis was awarded Best Documentary Short at the 26th annual One World Film Festival in Ottawa on September 26, 2015.  Photos

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Howard Editing The Marker 01

Photo of Howard Adler by Ed Kucerak

“Yes making this film was a challenge, but I think to a much lesser extent then the challenge that the five indigenous artists faced in designing a heritage marker. I really did want to do justice to their story though, and to show how much hard work and struggle the artists put into creating the commemorative marker”, replies filmmaker Howard Adler when we asked him about his documentary An Object that has Spirit which has its World Premiere at the One World Film Festival on Saturday September 26, 2015.

An Object that has Spirit tells the story of five indigenous artists who came together from across Canada to create a heritage marker to honour Indian Residential School Survivors and entrust their experiences to public memory. Faced with an enormous task, the artists rise to the challenge, transforming what was originally conceived of as a heritage plaque into an object imbued with spirit.

How did you get involved in the making of this film?
I was basically approached by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), on the recommendations of an advisory committee, which was actually composed of some seriously talented and well known Indigenous Artists. I believe their role was to also make recommendations for artists that could be chosen to create the Commemorative Marker, and I was very honoured that they recommended me for this project.

My job was to document the Commemorative Marker Workshop, a week long gathering in which 5 artists had to conceive and design an object that would commemorate the legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada, and to create a short film about the creative process.

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