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film review

That Never Happened: Canada’s First National Internment Operations

Directed by Ryan Boyko

Classification N/A; 75 minutes


2.5 out of 4 stars
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Michelle Loughery, Adam Kolisnyk and director Ryan Boyko tell the story of Canada's first national internment operations between 1914 – 1920.Oleksandr Kryshtalovych

As last year’s sesquicentennial made clear, there is a lot of history Canadians would rather forget, or ignore altogether. It is just easier to shrug off dark chapters as mere not-so-ancient history, never to be repeated or learned from. To counter this eternal apathy, Ryan Boyko’s documentary That Never Happened dusts off a particularly horrific moment that no one seems to be taught today: the story of Canada’s first national internment operation during the First World War. The operation, carried out under the 1914 War Measures Act, involved the wrongful imprisonment of more than 8,500 people – many of Ukrainian descent – in camps across the country, plus the registration of 88,000 more. Boyko has a personal connection to the material, growing up in a Ukrainian family in Saskatoon, and his passion is clearly reflected in the doc, which is as thoroughly researched as it is well-intentioned. What his film lacks, though, is any sort of cinematic approach to the subject – talking heads and archival photos do most of the work. The end result is an extremely important 75-minute education, but a lesson that is probably best for the classroom than the theatre.

That Never Happened screens Nov. 8 in Ottawa, Nov. 9-11 in Saskatoon, Nov. 10-11 in Regina, Nov. 9-12 in Edmonton, and Nov. 11 in Winnipeg

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