Toronto Black Film Festival, presented by Global News, today announced its official lineup featuring the best in black cinema from around the world. In addition to special events and free panels, the 2015 selection presents works from 38 filmmakers and features premieres from 18 countries including Belgium, Canada, Cameroon, Colombia, England, France, Germany, Haïti, Israël, Kenya, Nigeria, Portugal, Sénégal, South Africa, South Sudan, The Netherlands, Uganda, and USA.
NARRATIVE FEATURE FILMS
Alton Glass – USA | 2013 | 85’ | English
A tight knit group of young high school athletes have a terrible crash after winning the state championship – a catastrophe that will shape all their lives. But as adults, some 15 years later, they come together again for a reunion that will open olds wounds, expose long-hidden secrets – and pave the road to forgiveness and redemption.
Arthur Muhammad – USA | 2013 | 112’ | English
When a man finds a woman, who seeks a man, he only gets one chance at a first impression…or does he? First Impression is a romantic comedy that takes you on an enchanting journey into the complex world of Internet dating. Completely unaware of their secret fantasy relationship in cyberspace, a twist of fate brings the real Vernon and Imani together where the pair hit it off instantly. But when the truth of who they really are is revealed in a bizarre trail of events, the game-changing question is: Can there ever really be a second chance at a “first impression”?
HEAR NO EVIL
Russ Parr – USA | 2014 | 120’ | English
A freak accident jolts 15 year-old Shelby Carson from her peaceful world of silence and seclusion to the center of a world of chaos, confusion and imminent danger. As she struggles to cope with her new found circumstances, Shelby battles with what she learns about the people around her… complete strangers and her dearest loved ones. What seems to be a blessing from God on the surface could very well be a curse that brings her family to their knees. Relationships are tested, and secrets are revealed, in this untold story of family, faith and the resolve of a young girl who just wants her life back to normal.
*MANOS SUCIAS (DIRTY HANDS)
Josef Wladyka – USA, Colombia | 2014 | 82’ | Spanish with English subtitles
Executive Produced by Spike Lee
Towing a submerged torpedo in the wake of their battered fishing boat, Jacobo, a desperate fisherman and Delio, a naive kid, embark on a journey trafficking millions of dollars of cocaine up the Pacific coast of Colombia. While Jacobo is a seasoned trafficker, young Delio is unprepared for the grim reality.
Victor Viyuouh – Cameroon | 2012 | 95’ | Pidgin, English, and Babanki, with English subtitles
At 20 years old, Ninah has already been married for seven years and has three children. Her husband is abusive and there is no chance that he will let up. When she learns that her father is gravely ill, she runs to his bedside, without waiting for her husband’s approval. He finds out that she is pregnant and far away and demands to be repaid the dowry he paid, by any means necessary.
Christopher Thomas – USA | 2013 | 93’ | English
A bittersweet autopsy of mental illness and lost love, Terrible Love tells the story of Rufus, a wounded veteran returning home from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder, and his devoted wife Amy. They promised never to leave each other, but that promise is put to the ultimate test when Rufus’ PTSD becomes violent. Terrible Love dives head first into the heart-breaking effects of PTSD, the relationships it hurts, and the lives it threatens.
THE THORN OF THE ROSE (O ESPINHO DA ROSA)
Filipe Henriques – Portugal | 2013 | 97’ | Portuguese with English subtitles
Beware those who leave unresolved issues with the dead. Prosecuting Attorney David Lunga’s success is overshadowed by the terrifying secrets of Rosa, a beautiful but mysterious woman with whom he falls in love. What mysteries does she hide? As the macabre facts unravel, David comes face to face with his own demons and is driven to prove his innocence, recover his reputation and, above all, clear his own conscience.
*UNDER THE STARRY SKY (DES ETOILES)
Dyana Gaye – France, Sénégal | 2013 | 86’ | French, Wolof, Italian with English subtitles
Sophie, 24 years old, leaves Dakar to join her husband, Abdoulaye, in Turin. Meanwhile, Abdoulaye has already left for New York through a smuggler’s network. 19-year-old Thierno is traveling in Africa for the first time. Recounting these three characters’ destinies, Under The Starry Sky takes us on a journey through the diversity of the cities the characters travel to, confronting us with the realities, hopes, and dreams of contemporary emigration.
*UNA VIDA: A FABLE OF MUSIC AND THE MIND
Richie Adams – USA | 2014 | 97’ | English with English subtitles
A story about a beautiful street musician suffering from memory loss and a disheartened neuroscientist intent on helping her, bringing together the city of New Orleans and the jazz that made it famous.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE AND MID-LENGTH FILMS
*AIDEPENDENCE: THE MANY ILLS OF THE NGO SYSTEM
Alice Smeets – Belgium | 2014 | 90’ | French, Creole, English, Dutch with English subtitles
After many years of receiving a considerable amount of foreign aid, Haiti remains an impoverished and fragile state. But why? There are currently more NGO’s in Haiti than any other country in the world. But the projects all fail, be it on the short or long term. How can this be? Aidependence tells the story of the extremely controversial relationship between the people of Haiti and international aid. In her first feature-length movie, award-winning photojournalist Alice Smeets reveals the detrimental effects of an overabundance of NGO’s: dependence, passivity, corruption, economic destruction and the loss of solidarity.
*BOUND: AFRICANS VS AFRICAN-AMERICANS
Peres Owino – USA | 2014 | 91’ | English
Produced by Isaiah Washington
Bound: Africans VS African-Americans is a hard-hitting documentary that addresses the little known tension that exists between Africans and African Americans. The film opens with personal testimonials that expose this rift then walks us through the corridors of African colonialism and African American enslavement, laying bare their effects and how these have divided and bound Africans and African Americans.
CAST THE FIRST STONE
Jonathan Stack and Nicolas Cuellar – USA | 2013 | 93’ | English
In May of 2012, 75 actors and one theater director, all inmates at Angola Prison and Louisiana Correctional Institution for Women came together before a thousand free people, and performed the Passion of Christ in the largest theatrical event ever in a prison. The cast and crew were made up of murderers and robbers, thieves, prostitutes, and no doubt a few wrongly convicted. They are the very men and women to whom Christ would have preached. The actors’ stories and the films story weave together to tell a powerful tale of redemption and forgiveness. The journey provides an intensely personal mirror for all people, regardless of faith or religion, who are drawn to explore their own spiritual path. It took two years of daily rehearsals to pull off this feat, a long time by theater standards, but not by the standards of Angola, where the average sentence is 93 years.
Jaap Van Hoewijk – The Netherlands | 2013 | 54’ | English with English subtitles
Filmed in a “cinema direct” style, the film witnesses how a family is killing time while waiting for the execution of their loved one in Huntsville, Texas. Killing Time is “a naked” film: no music, no effects. Nothing to amplify or influence the images. Just the story, just the facts. Killing Time allows the viewer make up his own mind.
*SEWING HOPE: THE STORY OF SISTER ROSEMARY NYIRUMBE
Deerek Watson – USA (filmed in Uganda) | 2013 | 54’ | English, Acholi, with English subtitles
For 25 years, Joseph Kony and his Lord’s resistance Army terrorized Northern Uganda. Children were stolen from their families and brainwashed to be soldiers. Girls were degraded as sex slaves for Kony’s officers. The gunfire has ceased, but one battle remains – the battle to restore the future of the children of Uganda. Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker tells this story of one woman’s fight to bring hope back to her nation. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe leads a vocational school in Gulu, Uganda, where she uses practical skills to restore dignity, independence, and hope to formerly abducted women.
SOUND OF TORTURE
Keren Shayo – Israël | 2013 | 58’ | Hebrew, Tigrinya, Arabic with English subtitles
Since 2006 when Europe closed its borders, human trafficking has burgeoned in Egypt’s Sinai desert, where Eritrean asylum seekers and refugees heading north to Israel are kidnapped, held hostage, and tortured by Bedouin smugglers demanding exorbitant ransoms for their freedom. Fleeing an oppressive military dictatorship at home, with a “shoot-to-kill” policy at the border and where only pregnant women are exempted from service, over 300,000 Eritreans have fled their homeland in North Africa. Many of these men, women and children die in Sinai’s torture camps.
THE GOOD LIFE: LA BELLE VIE
Rachelle Salnave – USA | 2014 | 62’ | English, Haitian Creole, French with English subtitles
A story about a Haitian American filmmaker s journey to discover her Haitian roots by examining the complexities of the Haitian society as it pertains to the overall political and economic dichotomy in Haiti. Using her own personal family stories interconnected with capturing the voices of Haitians and experts overall, this film chronologically uncovers the rational behind its social class system but also how it has affected the Haitian American migration experience as well. With the proliferation of political turmoil, poverty, and now an earthquake shattered nation, La Belle vie: The Good Life in the end beckons all to lay down their arms, be it the tangible weapons of death and pain or the psychological and spiritual tools of division and prejudice, and work as one to rebuild a new and stronger Haiti.
*THE SUPREME PRICE
Joanna Lipper – USA, Nigeria | 2014 | 75’ | English with English subtitles
Director Joanna Lipper elegantly explores past and present as she tells the remarkable story of Hafsat Abiola, daughter of human rights heroine Kudirat Abiola, and Nigeria s President-elect M.K.O. Abiola, who won a historic vote in 1993 that promised to end years of military dictatorship. shortly after the election M.K.O. Abiola s victory was annulled and he was arrested. While he was imprisoned, his wife Kudirat took over leadership of the pro-democracy movement, organizing strikes and rallies, winning international attention for the Nigerian struggle against human rights violations perpetrated by the military dictatorship. Because of this work, she too became a target and was assassinated in 1996. In this riveting political thriller, the Abiola family’s intimate story unfolds against the epic backdrop of Nigeria’s evolution from independence in 1960.
THROUGH A LENS DARKLY: BLACK PHOTOGRAPHERS AND THE EMERGENCE OF A PEOPLE
Thomas Allen Harris – USA | 2014 | 92’ | English
Black photographers and the emergence of People is a documentary about how African American communities have used the camera as a tool for social change from the invention of photography to the present. This epic tale poetically moves between the present and the past, through contemporary photographers and artists whose images and stories seek to reconcile legacies of pride and shame while giving voice to images long suppressed, forgotten, and hidden from sight.
*WE ARE THE ONES
Michel Skinner & Jon Mitchael Shink – USA, South Sudan | 2014 | 62’ | English, Arabic, Dinka with English subtitles
When tribal feuds ignite a firestorm of violence, three surgeons unite for peace. Francis grew up with little schooling during the Sudanese Civil War. Ajak is a Lost Boy who has returned to the tribe he fled as a child. Both men are protégés of Glenn, a grizzled, but brilliant American surgeon. We Are The Ones follows these healers as they fight to prevent illness in the world’s newest country. After tribal divides erupt into violent raids that threaten their clinics, these men embark on a journey to protect their patients and bring peace to their people. We Are The Ones blends verite techniques with cinematic visuals to bring the audience a visceral account of the constant war between life and death in south Sudan.
*YOU BELONG TO ME: SEX, RACE AND MURDER ON THE SUWANNEE RIVER
John Cork – USA | 2014 | 88’ | English
The You Belong To Me documentary tells the 1952 story of Ruby McCollum, an African American woman who killed a prominent white doctor in Live Oak, Florida and the remarkable secrets and terrible truths revealed during her trial and incarceration. Her case haunted jurors and prosecutors for decades.
Shane Vermooten – South Africa | 2013 | 22’ | English and Xhosa with English subtitles
Boris Schaarschmidt – Germany, USA | 2013 | 17’ | Arabic with English subtitles
HAPPY 1 YEAR
Alicia Bunyan Sampson – Canada | 2014 | 11’ | English
I AM WHO?
Mark One – England | 2014 | 6’ | English
Shawn Gerrard – Canada | 2013 | 10’ | English with French subtitles
Rachel Goldberg – USA | 2014 | 14’ | English with English subtitles
MY AMERICAN FUND
Ayana Sounders – Nigeria | 2013 | 14’ | English
Christophe Switzer – France | 2013 | 18’ | French with English subtitles
THE RACIST NEIGHBOUR
Richard B. Pierre – Canada | 2014 | 1’ | English with English subtitles
THE SILENT TREATMENT
Martine Jean – USA, Haïti | 2013 | 9’ | English with English subtitles
WHEN TABLES TURN
Michael Foster – USA | 2013 | 20’ | English
DEEPER THAN BLACK
Sean Addo – USA | 2013 | 23’ | English with English subtitles
GROWING UP POSITIVE
Yasmin Shiraz – USA | 2014 | 42’ | English with English subtitles
BEE & JULIE-JULIE
Salwa Majoka & Christine Chung – Canada | 2014 | 8’ | English
Remy Vandenitte – Belgium, France | 2013 | 12’ | English
*TBFF’s special selection
VENUES, TICKETS AND PASSES
Isabel Bader Theatre Opening Night (93 Charles Street West)
Carlton Cinema Regular screenings and Community Programs (20 Carlton Street)
Jackman Hall, AGO Some screenings + Special events (317 Dundas Street West)
Alliance Française French films (24 Spadina Road)
Revival Closing Night (783 College Street)
Passport card and individual tickets can be purchased in person at the theatre or at: www.torontoblackfilm.com.
Passport card: $145
Opening Night: $25 | Closing Night: $30 ($40 @ the door) | Regular Tickets: $10
Special events with Fred Williamson / Bill Cobbs / Hollywood panel: $20 each
TBFF Community Program: Free admission
The 3rd annual Toronto Black Film Festival (TBFF) will run from February 10 to 15, 2015 and is presented by Global News.
TBFF – MORE THAN A FESTIVAL
Intriguing, international, entertaining, eye-opening, and educating, the Toronto Black Film Festival (TBFF) is about DISCOVERY & DIVERSITY! TBFF showcases the most outstanding and most powerful Black films while creating a space to debate major cultural, social and socio-economic issues. Created by the Fabienne Colas Foundation, 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. In connecting black films with viewers of all colours and ethnic origins, we recognize the differences that make us unique and celebrate the shared values that bring us together. Films illuminate, entertain and invite audiences to see the world from another person’s experience. Coming together through art allows members of all cultural communities to better understand one another.
About Global News
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For more information:
Julie MacFarlane, ClutchPR