Black Ice (2023)

Black Ice (2023)

A painful but necessary exposé that doesn't dig deep but gets the conversation started

6.1

Movie

Canada
English
Documentary
2023
HUBERT DAVIS
Jashvina Shah, P.K. Subban, Sarah Nurse
90 min

TLDR

Turns out that the people who get angriest at Canada are, in fact, Canadians.

What it's about

Black Canadian hockey players recount their experiences of racism in a sport—and a country—known for turning a blind eye.

The take

What Black Ice lacks in comprehensive research about the structures that maintain institutionalized racism inside major hockey leagues, it partly makes up for with one painful testimonial after another. This is a documentary that aims for the personal and the emotional over the intellectual—still an effective strategy as the film makes its point through repetition, to show just how commonplace racism is within hockey culture. And though it begins to feel somewhat plain in its execution (and without as much momentum leading into its concluding statements), Black Ice makes for a fiery, impassioned wake-up call especially to Canada's own seemingly "progressive" racial politics.

What stands out

Though the documentary doesn't necessarily build towards its final moments so much as it scatters itself towards the end, the note that Black Ice chooses to end on is still one of optimism and hope for the future. Here the focus is placed on much, much younger students of hockey who have already come to expect racist treatment in this arena. It could very well be the subject of its own documentary; it'd certainly be interesting to see present-day efforts in making the sport more inclusive. But while the film doesn't really give us enough of this on its own, it still knows to leave us on a high.

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