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Events » CSI Cinema: “Unarmed Verses”

CSI Cinema: “Unarmed Verses”

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CSI and REEL CANADA are celebrating National Film Day on Wednesday, April 17 at CSI Annex with a screening of “Unarmed Verses”! This year’s film is a moving documentary shown to honour and remember its director. Charles Officer, actor, writer, filmmaker, and longstanding member of REEL CANADA’s Board of Directors, passed in December 2023 (support Charles Officer’s family here). Officer lent his talents not only to his films, but also to Canadian cinema more broadly; the Globe and Mail described him as “a rare director who could traverse the different worlds of the Canadian screen sector with remarkable ease.”

After the film, join CSI Member House of Arts for a discussion with Spencer Phillips, Executive Director of Art Starts, the community arts program featured in the film, and with Yazmeen Kanji, a Hot Docs Accelerator Fellow and the CEO of Films With A Cause.

Visit CSI Annex at 720 Bathurst to celebrate Charles, “Unarmed Verses”, and National Film Day.

About the Film: 

Unarmed Verses (Watch the Trailer!)

Run Time: 85 minutes

Synopsis: This feature documentary presents a thoughtful and vivid portrait of a community facing imposed relocation. At the centre of the story is a 12-year-old Black girl whose poignant observations about life, the soul, and the power of art give voice to those rarely heard in society. Unarmed Verses is a cinematic rendering of our universal need for self-expression and belonging.

Director: Charles Officer was an actor, writer, filmmaker, and longstanding member of REEL CANADA’s Board of Directors. Officer’s first feature, Nurse.Fighter.Boy, was nominated for 10 Genies, winning one. Officer also directed the docs Mighty Jerome, The Skin We’re In, Unarmed Verses, and Invisible Essence: The Little Prince, as well as the feature Akilla’s Escape, which won five CSAs. He directed episodes of Coroner, and executive produced and co-directed The Porter. He was the executive producer of the upcoming docs The Art of Dance and Emmanuel.

About the Conversation:

CSI Member House of Arts will sit down with Art Starts and Yazmeen Kanji to chat about the film and the impact of community arts and its organizers in Toronto.

Art Starts works in five underserved Toronto neighbourhoods and city-wide. We bring together professional artists  ̶  dancers, musicians, visual artists, actors and playwrights  ̶  with residents of all ages. Together we create accessible and dynamic community arts projects and initiatives that reflect the identities and aspirations of each community. 

House of Arts is a grass roots collective, founded in 2021. It was brought to life by Warda Youssouf, a Somali refugee who has dedicated her life to the arts and community organizing. House of Arts dedicates itself to bringing community together – particularly black, immigrant, and femme individuals, and hopes to foster connections within Toronto’s expansive Black arts community and surrounding cities. 

Yazmeen Kanji is a Muslim Indo-Caribbean filmmaker, a Hot Docs Accelerator Fellow and the CEO of Films With A Cause – a consulting firm for authentic on-screen storytelling practices. Yazmeen’s first documentary, From Syria To Hope (2019), was awarded Best Short Documentary at the 2019 Toronto Short Film Festival. Her short documentary, With Love From Munera (2020), won the audience choice award at the 2021 Breakthroughs Film Festival, was an official selection at TIFF Next Wave 2021 and streamed on the digital TIFF Bell Lightbox site. Yazmeen is the former Project Manager at Canesugar Filmworks, where she assisted Charles Officer and Jake Yanowski for five years, having the privilege of receiving mentorship from Charles. She is now in post-production on her first narrative film, a coming-of-age short called One Day, and is in development on a documentary for broadcast about Sickle Cell Disease, in-part funded by the Hot Docs CrossCurrents Fund and inspired by Charles Officer’s Nurse Fighter Boy.


  • Mix and mingle: Doors Open @ 6:00pm EST

  • Welcome & Film Screening @ 6:30 PM EST

  • Discussion with Art Starts and House of Arts @ 8:00 PM EST


  • Free thanks to CSI Member REEL CANADA! 


The ground floor of CSI Annex is fully accessible for mobility devices. Guests will enter through the south-east door – the entrance is equipped with a lift. We will provide preferred seating upon request during your ticketing selection or by emailing