• Montreal International Black Film Festival kicks off with Harriet Tubman’s biopic

    The Montreal International Black Film Festival (MIBFF) kicks of today with the premiere of the Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet. This is the 15th edition of the festival and will feature over 90 films from 25 countries along with a series of talks and discussions.

    While bringing some of the best black films from around the world to the audience, the festival also focuses on relevant social issues. This year, the six-day long event will put the spotlight on achievements of women.

    It will commence with the screening of “Harriet” at the Imperial Theatre at 7 p.m. Directed by Kasi Lemmons and starring Tony-winning Broadway actor Cynthia Erivowhich, the film recounts the life of Harriet Tubman, the runaway slave who helped to free hundreds of other slaves through her “Underground Railroad”.

    “Harriet” is scheduled to be released across Canada on November 1. Before the screening, the festival will also honour French Caribbean filmmaker Euzhan Palcy and Quebecois filmmaker Jean-Claude Lord, with this year’s Pioneer Award.

    This year will also see an intimate talk with Kevin Richardson and Yusef Salaam of “The Central Park Five” group. The group refers to five young boys who were wrongly accused of brutally raping and killing a young woman who was jogging in New York’s Central Park in 1989. Pressured by the district attorney, the cops persuaded and bullied them into a confession for rape and attempted murder.

    The actual rapist was apprehended later and the boys were exonerated in 2002, after spending 7 to 13 years behind bars. The story was depicted in Ava Duvernay’s Emmy Award nominated Netflix series “When They See Us”.

    “We’re going to be talking about that and the socio-economic situation right now in the United States and how this affected their lives,” said MIBFF president Fabienne Colas.

    This year’s festival will also pay a tribute to Euzhan Palcy, César winning director and the only Black woman filmmaker to have directed Marlon Brando, César winning actor Isaach De Bankolé and Haitian-American Hollywood star Jimmy Jean-Louis.

    The focus will also be on films created by young directors and produced by Fabienne Colas Foundation’s Youth and Diversity Program and its project “Being Black in Canada.” Many of the films will tackle the issue of effective social integration of people from black communities in Canada.

    “We have to be in action right now because we’ve been raising awareness for 15 years, and it’s time to take action and to do something about diversity on and off-screen because we’re not moving so much further forward,” said Colas.

    Other significant films that will be showcased in the festival include “Inna De Yard: The Soul Of Jamaica”, a documentary about the Jamaican reggae supergroup and “Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story” which recounts the true story of a mother in South Africa who killed her drug-addicted 20-year-old son.

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