A drawing of a young boy with an oversized head, a character from BLA BLA, an interactive website produced by Vincent Morisset in 2011.

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Press release


Montreal, February 11, 2014 – Forty-five years ago, on February 11, 1969, a two-week-long student occupation against alleged racism at Montreal's Sir George Williams University came to a fiery end, with the arrest of almost 100 protestors and the destruction of the university's just-installed computer system.

Known as the “Sir George Affair,” it would forever change the way Canada dealt with human rights complaints and have a profound impact far beyond Canada's shores, in the Caribbean independence movement.

Now, on the 45th anniversary of this watershed moment, shooting is underway in Montreal on the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) feature documentary The Ninth Floor, which will peel back the layers on the events before, during and after the Sir George Affair, and reveal how it has marked all of the lives of its participants.

Written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Mina Shum (Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity; Double Happiness) and produced by Canada Award winner Selwyn Jacob ( The Road Taken) for the NFB, The Ninth Floor will be filming on locations such as Concordia University's Henry F. Hall building, where computer punch-cards once fluttered in the air high over de Maisonneuve Street in downtown Montreal during the final hours of the occupation, in one of the most iconic images of Canadian student unrest in the 1960s.

For two weeks in 1969, a Black-led student protest occupied the computer room on the ninth floor of the Hall Building at Sir George Williams University (what is now Concordia) in Montreal. Two hundred protestors wanted justice for six Black students who felt that they had been failed systemically by their white biology professor. When their initial complaint exonerated the teacher, the students re-issued their complaint: a formal charge of racism. But ultimately, they felt dismissed by the university administration.

Students, bolstered by the wider Black community and other supporters, occupied the computer centre, which at the time took up the space of a large room and was worth two million dollars, and their fight became a symbol for justice and equality. Two weeks after the occupation started, a fire would break out in the computer room, causing police to rush in, evacuate the scene, and lay charges against 97 protestors.

About the NFB
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) creates groundbreaking interactive works, social-issue documentaries and auteur animation. The NFB has produced over 13,000 productions and won over 5,000 awards, including 4 Canadian Screen Awards, 7 Webbys, 12 Oscars and more than 90 Genies. To access acclaimed NFB content, visit NFB.ca or download its apps for smartphones, tablets and connected TV.


Pat Dillon
NFB Publicist
Cell: 514-206-1750
E-mail: p.a.dillon@nfb.ca
Twitter: @PatDoftheNFB

Lily Robert
Director, Corporate Communications, NFB
Tel.: 514-283-3838 
Cell: 514-296-8261
E-mail: l.robert@nfb.ca