Director: Rino Noto
Run Time: 43 minutes
Piazza Petawawa: the Paradox is a documentary that was showcased at the 2016 Italian Contemporary Film Festival. It tells the little known story of the prosecution and internment of Italian-Canadian’s during World War two. The documentary reminds us that fear based policymaking and unlawful imprisonment and detainment in the name of national security, is not a new phenomenon and has disastrous consequences.
During World War Two, the Canadian Government granted the then Minister of Justice, Ernest Lapointe, the power to intern enemy nationals and Canadian citizens, resulting in an estimated 30,000-35,000 people being imprisoned in 40 camps across Canada, without due process. After Italy declared war on Canada in June 1940, the Minister of Justice declared war on an estimated 30,000 Italian-Canadians by signing an order labeling them “enemy aliens”. Piazza Petawawa: the Paradox estimates that of those 30,000, over 700, mostly Italian men, were interned in different Canadian camps. The documentary primarily focuses on the families of the prisoners interned in the camp located in Petawawa, Ontario. Living arguably harder lives in freedom, the families recount the discrimination they faced, single mothers were denied work and forced to work multiple low paying menial jobs, to check in with the RCMP regularly, especially if they wanted to travel to another city or region, and many bank accounts were seized and owners were given restricted access to their finances.
The documentary is visually very simple, and the pace is a bit slow at times, but it succeeds in enlightening the audience and bringing awareness to an important topic. Many of the men and women never talked about their experience, so their story may have died with them. The National Congress of Italian Canadians lobbied the government and helped to get the then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to issue an apology at a 1990 luncheon, but there’s never been an official apology made in the House of Commons. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau you have a chance to change history because it’s 2016.
Piazza Petawawa: the Paradox is director Rino Noto first feature length documentary. He is an internationally recognized artist, working as a photographer and having 12 years experience working on commercials and music videos.