A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Improving representation and equality. Broadening the mind through knowledge. Overcoming adversity and working hard to achieve your goals.
Positive Role Models
The documentary features various academics and experts who devote their time and efforts to improving people's knowledge of diversity in the sport of hockey. There are also examples of young players who work tirelessly to follow their dreams of playing in the NHL. Prominent journalists and former players also educate about the game and speak out against persecution.
The documentary highlights little-known historical Black figures from North American history who played hockey, despite the common perceptions of the sport being predominantly White. There is some discussion of segregation and racial prejudice as part of the history of how Black players came to the game in Canada.
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Violence & Scariness
Some discussion of permanent injury through playing sport -- including sight loss in one eye -- sporting violence, and violent abuse from racist crowd members. Also death threats received by Black players. Play fighting. Some body checking and other on-ice contact shown.
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Language used includes "s--t," which is censored as "S#%T!." Reference to the "N" word as the "N" word," but one Black interviewee does say the word out loud. Also "spook" is referenced as being used in instances of racial abuse.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Soul on Ice: Past, Present and Future is an informative sports documentary about the history of Black ice hockey players with discussions about some of the racism they faced. The movie is packed with positive role models and messages. It explains the overlooked history of Black hockey players in Canada and the U.S., with plenty of historical examples of innovators and modern-day sporting excellence. As part of this, there is also discussion of the racism that Black players experienced and how these problems persist. There is a good mix of diversity, with multiple ethnicities represented when talking to hockey experts. Both men and women are interviewed where possible, but the documentary focuses on men's leagues, so the women interviewed tend to be relatives of players. Violence is minimal, with it being alluded to rather than shown. The most graphic example is of the description of a sporting injury that left one player blind in one eye. Some participants reference terms of racist abuse -- including the "N" word -- that they have heard targeted at them and their relatives. The word "s--t" also appears censored in a humorous quote from the comedian Chris Rock. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A brief but detailed overview of the history of Black ice hockey players in North America, this is a well-crafted documentary that also transmits its makers' love of the sport. From trailblazing veterans of the NHL such as Willie O'Ree and Val James, to young draft hopeful Jaden Lindo, Soul on Ice: Past, Present and Future has a variety of intergenerational voices who show us how times have changed for the better. Equally impressive are the unsung heroes working to improve the sport's diversity and inclusion, who work to overcome barriers such as cost and access to learning how to skate and how to play.
Jaden's story gives the documentary a natural through-line. But before that there's a concerted effort to tell the history not just of Black hockey players but also Black immigration to Canada in particular. The early examples of Black sporting excellence are relatively obscure but unsurprising. Sadly, so is the persecution they received. From not being selected because of the color of their skin to being offered pay cuts to progress their career, Soul on Ice: Past, Present and Future does a good job of showing how far we've come, but also how some startling examples of racism from hockey crowds -- including death threats -- persisted well into the 1980s. Whether you're an expert, a casual hockey fan, or just an interested onlooker, there's likely something here for you to enjoy, learn from, and celebrate.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.