Toronto Black Film Festival spotlights emerging talent

The annual event opens with Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story and features special tribute and discussion with #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke


Welcome to NOW’s weekly spotlight on Toronto’s indie festivals and screenings. It’s your chance to learn a little more about that cinematic event you’ve been meaning to check out, pitched by passionate programmers in their own words.

THE FESTIVAL

The 2019 edition of the Toronto Black Film Festival, Wednesday (February 13) through Sunday (February 18) at locations throughout the city including the Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles West), the AGO (350 Dundas West) and the Carlton Cinema (20 Carlton). There’s also a special Family Day program for kids on Monday (February 18).

THE PROGRAMMER

Fabienne Colas, an actor, filmmaker and activist who founded the festival in 2013 as a companion to the Montreal International Black Film Festival she currently manages seven film festivals, including one in her native Port-au-Prince, and advocates for diversity and inclusion in the arts and media.

WHAT’S THE MISSION?

“The Toronto Black Film Festival is dedicated to giving unique voices in cinema the opportunity to present audiences with new ways of looking at the world,” Colas says. “TBFF is a dynamic, refreshing and audacious Festival whose ambition is to encourage the development of the independent film industry and to promote more films on the reality of Black people from around the globe.”

WHAT’S THE VIBE?

“Cool, exciting and empowering.”

IS THE FOCUS ON EMERGING FILMMAKERS A CONSCIOUS APPROACH, OR AN INDICATION THAT FILMMAKERS OF COLOUR ARE GETTING MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE FILMS?

“It’s a little bit of both,” Colas says. “TBFF is growing so fast, and we are all thrilled about the excitement for the festival. Nevertheless, we want to make sure that no matter how big it becomes emerging artists will always have a platform to showcase their work and to acquire new skills through our industry corner TBFF Black Market, that offers workshops and networking opportunities.”

WHAT’S THE BLACK MARKET?

“The TBFF Black Market offers a variety of panels, workshops, master classes, networking events each year for our filmmakers from here and abroad,” Colas explains. “This year, we showcase films and events from 26 countries, including a special tribute and discussion with #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke (February 16, 9 pm, Isabel Bader). This is a great opportunity for film professionals to network and learn from one another.”

ANY RECOMMENDATIONS?

Colas wants to highlight six of her festival’s 70 selections: the opening film, Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story (February 13, 8 pm, Isabel Bader Theatre) Emily Harrold’s documentary While I Breathe, I Hope (February 15, 7 pm, AGO) the centrepiece screenings Sprinter (February 15, 9 pm, AGO) and We Are The Heat (February 16, 9 pm, AGO) the closing film, Dead Women Walking (February 17, 9 pm, Carlton) and the TBFF Kids Film Fest entry Jim Button And Luke The Engine Driver (February 18, 1 pm and 5 pm, Carlton).

@normwilner

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