Community

Binge on this! Six female-focused East Coast docs

In honour of International Women’s Day, we’ve picked six of our favourite female-focused documentaries to stream this weekend.

These TV and radio documentaries tell the stories of women right here in Atlantic Canada.

Did you know there are documentaries being made about incredible women right here on the East Coast? We've made it easier than ever to find them, too. Below are six documentaries that put the stories of fascinating women at the forefront. Whether you have five minutes to spare, or 45 minutes, we think you'll find something that piques your interest. These stories might resonate with you personally, or open your eyes to a new way of thinking. Either way, they'll intrigue and inspire you. And, you can stream all of these documentaries for free on CBC apps. 

Land and Sea: Women at Sea

Got 20 minutes? This short documentary from the classic Canadian series Land and Sea tells the stories of several women with careers at sea. Jobs on the water are still largely male-dominated. But that hasn't stopped these women—even though they face gender discrimination on a regular basis. 

(Land and Sea: Women at Sea)

"When I say I work on boats, people are like 'Oh, you're a cook?'" says Kelsie MacLean. "No, no, I'm not a cook. I'm the engineer. I'm the one fixing everything that breaks. I'm the one getting my hands dirty."

Watch it here on CBC Gem

Art Hurts: Amy Malbeuf / Art Hurts: Jessica Coffey

Art Hurts is a series of short documentaries from CBC Arts. They've been traveling across Canada meeting some of the most innovative tattoo artists working today—and all of them happen to be female or non-binary. Art Hurts episodes are bite-sized, so we've picked two to highlight. 

One episode features Amy Malbeuf, a Métis artist living in Terence Bay, N.S., who keeps Indigenous traditions alive through her work in traditional skin-stitching. "I think tattooing is storytelling," she says. "It tells the story of who you are. When we're wearing our cultural marks on our skin, it's saying to the world 'This is who I am. This is where I'm from.'"

(Art Huts: Amy Malbeuf)

In another episode, we meet St. John's tattoo artist Jessica Coffey. She's inspired by the province's local flora and fauna. Folks often come to Jessica for pitcher plant, codfish, and iceberg tats. Coffey was born in Labrador and raised in Newfoundland. She says, "I have this very rich Newfoundland culture on one side, and this rich Inuit culture on the other side...it definitely shows in a lot of my work."

(Art Hurts: Jessica Coffey)

It was all so Wonderful: The Everyday Magic of Mary Pratt

(It was all so Wonderful: The Everyday Magic of Mary Pratt)

If you have a little more downtime, this 45-minute documentary on Canadian art icon Mary Pratt is well worth it. Throughout the 1960s, 70s, and beyond, Mary Pratt painted the kinds of things people Instagram today: luscious-looking fruit, meticulously planned dinners, melancholy self-portraits, her home. Was she overly-commercial and vapid, or a revolutionary? The debate has never ceased. In 2013 Mary Pratt said, "People will find out that in each one of the paintings there is something that ought to disturb them, something upsetting. That is why I painted them." 

This documentary dives into the everyday magic and motivations of her work, her tumultuous marriage with renowned artist Christopher Pratt, and her complicated legacy. Watch it here.

Canada's a Drag: Elle Noir 

(Canada's a Drag: Elle Noir)

Chris Cochrane, also known as Elle Noir, is the subject of this episode of Canada's a Drag, another great nationwide series by CBC Arts. Cochrane is originally from Glace Bay in Cape Breton, and now lives and works in Halifax. In less than seven minutes, you'll get to know her fascinating story of secretly performing drag while in the Navy, and her experience as a Black trans woman performing in the drag world. 

Atlantic Voice: Shouldn't Need Sayin'

(Dave Howells)

Switching gears to radio docs, "Shouldn't Need Sayin'" is about a groundbreaking project in Newfoundland that brought together people who've worked in the sex trade with members of the police to speak openly and find common ground. A photographer and songwriter also joined in to help bring the project to life. Hear the nuanced and personal accounts of life in the sex trade in the 26-minute podcast on the CBC Listen app