Watching Jill Andrew, MPP for Toronto St-Paul’s, speak in parliament is as riveting as any cinematic court scene, and anyone with a sense of empathy will be moved by her commanding presence and heartfelt words. But Jill’s plea for paid sick days is not only an Oscar-worthy performance—it’s an urgent and desperate call to save lives in the horrific real-life dramatic crisis that continues to unfold in Ontario.
Seeing Jill tirelessly ask for the same things and constantly be voted down by Conservatives is maddening to witness from afar—we can’t begin to imagine how frustrated and heartbroken she must feel having to deal with the inhumanity of it all, up close, each and every day.
Aisha Fairclough is Jill’s life partner, and wanted to show what Jill’s life was like as Ontario’s first Black queer MPP, her backstory and the discrimination she deals with on a daily basis. Her powerful short documentary Body Politics premieres at Hot Docs this week and shares a side of life of a politician rarely seen, capturing the vulnerable at-home moments when Jill isn’t fighting with all her might for systemic change at Queen’s Park.
Warm and revealing, Aisha welcomes viewers into their home to meet cats, Josephine Baker and Dorothy Dandridge. We see Jill in comfy clothes, reviewing the challenges of the day, and laughing with her partner. The film also takes us back in time to Jill’s childhood, to understand the struggles she experienced that have motivated her activism over the years, and eventually what drove her to get into politics.
“I made this film in hopes that it would inspire people to see that they can be engaged citizens,” says Aisha. “Change happens when you use your voice, even if you face roadblocks don’t give up because every voice matters.”
For a short doc, the film covers a lot of topics, including body image, race and representation, equity/human rights and women in politics. Body Politics will be screened as part of the Hot Docs Citizen Minutes project, a commission of short, original documentaries aimed at inspiring engaged citizenship.
Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival runs from April 29th to May 9th. Packages, passes and tickets are now available. See full schedule of programming here.