Reel Affirmations 2003
Rating: (3 out of 5)
Saturday, 10/18/2003, 11:00 AM
Feature presentation, $9 at Goethe Institut Inter Nationes
WITH SAME-SEX marriage prevailing in Ontario in 2003, we may tend to think of our friends in Canada as especially lucky to have such a progressive government and supreme court. But Little Sister’s v. Big Brother shows a different side of life in the Great White North: the nefarious censors at Canada Customs who waged a battle against a Vancouver gay bookstore by selectively holding materials at the border that they deemed too offensive or pornographic.
Owners of the store, Little Sister’s Book & Art Emporium, opted not to sit back and suffer. They fought back, and took their struggle all the way to Canada’s highest court. Aerlyn Weissman’s documentary gives a detailed look at how the decisions by a few Customs officers jeopardized a bookstore’s ability to thrive, features interviews with notable gay literati like Jane Rule and Sarah Schulman, and catches Customs in a fit of hypocrisy when a supportive mainstream bookstore orders the same titles that Customs officers have banned from Little Sister’s orders — and receives the titles with no glitches.
The end of the movie will leave viewers both elated and frustrated — but the fact is that it’s not over when the credits roll. According to its web site, Little Sister’s continues to confront Customs officers’ decisions to censor materials shipped into Canada en route to the Vancouver gay hotspot. It’s a stark reminder that no one should take the freedoms we know for granted.