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Black Life: Untold Stories – Northern Beats

Director Will Prosper
Year 2023
Run Time 44min
Genre Documentary

A musical look at the rise of hip hop in Canada, as told by some of its earliest pioneers, culminating in the worldwide success of artists like Drake and The Weeknd.

Director

Will Prosper

Writers

Leslie Norville, Margot Daley

Genre

Documentary

Interests

Arts and Culture, BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker, History

Original Language

English

Another Planet

Director Christene Browne
Year 1999
Run Time 93min
Genre Drama
A young woman unsure of her cultural heritage, arrives in rural Quebec, Canada.

Director

Christene Browne

Christene Browne is a groundbreaking Producer, Director, Screenwriter, and Novelist. Raised in Regent Park, Toronto, she started her own production company, Syncopated Productions, in 1990. Her directorial debut, 1999’s Another Planet, was the first feature film directed by a Black woman in Canada. Browne continues to produce film work through Syncopated Productions, and has written three novels since 2013.

Writer

Christene Browne

Cast

Sandy Daley

Producer

Christene Browne

Genre

Drama

Interests

BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker, Female Filmmaker

Original Languages

English, French

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Cette maison (This House)

Director Miryam Charles
Year 2023
Run Time 75min
Genre Documentary, Drama, Experimental

Drawing from the events surrounding her fourteen-year-old cousin’s murder in 2008, director Miryam Charles wants to finally unpack her grief and the trauma associated with it. Through dream-like reenactments of her own childhood and an imagined life for her cousin, Charles delves into the changing emotional, political, and historical climates surrounding her family as Haitian-Canadians in Quebec.


This beautifully crafted film is a bold and thought-provoking look at family, and a moving tribute to a life tragically cut short.


“A daring blend of documentary and fantasy that invests a deeply personal drama with a wide historical scope.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker

Director

Miryam Charles

Writer

Miryam Charles

Cast

Schelby Jean-Baptiste

Producer

Felix Dufour-Laperriere

Genres

Documentary, Drama, Experimental

Interests

BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker, Family Relationships, Female Filmmaker, Newcomer Stories

Original Language

French

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I Live Here

Director Tyler Mckenzie Evans
Year 2022
Run Time 11min
Genre Drama
A forgotten key leads to a racially-fuelled confrontation between neighbours.

Director

Tyler Mckenzie Evans

Genre

Drama

Interests

BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker, Discrimination

Original Language

English

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Astronaut

Director Ian Keteku
Year 2022
Run Time 4min
Genre Animation
A whimsical animated poem about a twelve-year-old’s fantasy of what his life would be like as an astronaut, experiencing the world from above.

Director

Ian Keteku

Genre

Animation

Interests

BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker

Original Language

English

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Angel Money

Director Ian Keteku
Year 2022
Run Time 4min
Genre Animation
A black youth shares a heartfelt poem about coming to terms with his father’s death.

Director

Ian Keteku

Genre

Animation

Interests

BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker

Original Language

English

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Patty vs Patty

Director Chris Strikes
Year 2022
Run Time 19min
Genre Documentary
In 1985, restaurants in Toronto serving Jamaican patties went to war with the federal government over the right to call their beloved dish a “patty”.

Director

Chris Strikes

Genre

Documentary

Interests

Arts and Culture, BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker

Original Language

English

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Speakers for the Dead

Directors Jennifer Holness, Sudz Sutherland
Year 2000
Run Time 49min
Genre Documentary
A quest to restore a lost cemetery in rural Ontario divides a community and reveals deep truths of the hidden history of the Black community in Canada. In the 1930s, a farmer buried the tombstones of a Black cemetery to make way for a potato patch. Fifty years later, descendants of the original settlers, both Black and White, try to recover what remains of this history but face fierce opposition by those who believe the truth must remain buried.

Through a blend of interviews with residents, reenactments, and footage of the cemetery excavation, this powerful documentary highlights an important but rarely discussed aspect of Canadian history.

Directors

Jennifer Holness

Holness is a director, writer, and producer whose producing credits include award-winning films Stateless, Guns, and Love, Sex, and Eating the Bones, and series like She’s the Mayor and Shoot the Messenger. She wrote and directed Subjects of Desire and recently received the Canadian Media Producers Association’s Established Producer Award, and directed an episode of the series BLK: An Origin Story. Next, she is producing the feature Rip Tide.

Producer

Peter Starr

Genre

Documentary

Interests

BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker, Female Filmmaker, History, Social Justice & Politics

Original Language

English

Canadian Distributor

National Film Board (NFB)

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Giants of Africa

Director Hubert Davis
Year 2016
Run Time 77min
Genre Documentary
This inspiring doc chronicles the work of Giants of Africa, a program founded by Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri that uses basketball to educate and enrich the lives of underprivileged African youth.

Director

Hubert Davis

Davis’s first film, Hardwood, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Short Documentary. He received the Don Haig award at the Hot Docs festival for Invisible City, and has directed numerous award winning commercials, as well as the short film Aruba and the 2016 feature doc Giants of Africa. His 2017 short, Rivolta, won a Cannes Film Lion. his most recent feature doc Black Ice, premiered at TIFF 2022. Next, he is working on the series The Count.

Writer

Hubert Davis

Cast

Masai Ujiri

Producer

Josiah Rothenberg

Genre

Documentary

Interests

Black Filmmaker, Sports

Original Language

English

Canadian Distributor

Elevation Pictures

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Unarmed Verses

Director Charles Officer
Year 2017
Run Time 86min
Genre Documentary
A thoughtful portrait of a community told through the eyes of an astute 12-year-old Black girl whose poignant observations about life give voice to those rarely heard in society. Winner of Hot Docs’ Best Canadian Feature Doc.

Director

Charles Officer

Actor, writer and filmmaker Officer’s first feature, Nurse.Fighter.Boy, was nominated for 10 Genies, winning one. Officer also directed the docs Mighty Jerome, The Skin We're In, Unarmed Verses, and Invisible Essence: The Little Prince, as well as the feature Akilla's Escape, which won five CSAs. He has recently directed episodes of Coroner, and executive produced and co-directed The Porter. He’s also the executive producer of the upcoming docs The Art of Dance and Emmanuel.

Writer

Charles Officer

Producer

Lea Marin

Genre

Documentary

Interests

Arts and Culture, BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker

Original Language

English

Canadian Distributor

National Film Board (NFB)

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Akilla’s Escape

Director Charles Officer
Year 2020
Run Time 90min
Genre Drama, Thriller
Akilla (Williams), a 40-year-old drug dealer, goes on an epic one-night journey to find the gang that ambushed him during a drug deal and stole a major shipment. His only lead is one of the robbers, a teenage gang member he captured named Sheppard (Mpumlwana) who reminds him of his younger self (also played by Mpumlwana). Through glimpses of his childhood, we see the seemingly inescapable vortex of intergenerational violence that Akilla finds himself in. As the story reaches its thrilling climax, it begs the question: what will it take for the cycle to break?

Akilla’s Escape premiered at TIFF in 2020 and went on to win 5 Canadian Screen Awards.

Akilla’s Escape is a profound, tender reworking of the crime thriller” – Melissa Vincent, The Globe and Mail

Director

Charles Officer

Actor, writer and filmmaker Officer’s first feature, Nurse.Fighter.Boy, was nominated for 10 Genies, winning one. Officer also directed the docs Mighty Jerome, The Skin We're In, Unarmed Verses, and Invisible Essence: The Little Prince, as well as the feature Akilla's Escape, which won five CSAs. He has recently directed episodes of Coroner, and executive produced and co-directed The Porter. He’s also the executive producer of the upcoming docs The Art of Dance and Emmanuel.

Writers

Charles Officer, Wendy "Motion" Brathwaite

Cast

Saul Williams, Thamela Mpumlwana, Donisha Rita Claire Prendergast, Colm Feore

Producer

Jake Yanowski

Genres

Drama, Thriller

Interests

BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker, Family Relationships, Newcomer Stories, Social Justice & Politics

Original Language

English

Canadian Distributor

levelFILM

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Subjects of Desire

Director Jennifer Holness
Year 2021
Run Time 103min
Genre Documentary

In this powerful documentary, filmmaker Jennifer Holness takes an incisive look at why our society enforces such impossible and conflicting beauty standards on Black women. The treatment of Black Women in our culture is rarely given the attention it deserves, but Holness uses the 50th anniversary of the Miss Black America pageant as a jumping off point to explore everything from the media’s continued reinforcement of damaging and reductive archetypes to the recent explosion of cultural appropriation trends.

Featuring a variety of interviews with beauty experts, prominent Black women in the media, pageant contestants and more, Holness doesn’t hold back from exposing the harsh truths about the world we live in.

“Both critical and celebratory, Jennifer Holness’ packed and penetrating documentary Subjects of Desire provides a superb overview of how Black culture has influenced, and been influenced by, contemporary beauty ideals from Civil War times to #BlackGirlMagic and beyond.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety

Director

Jennifer Holness

Holness is a director, writer, and producer whose producing credits include award-winning films Stateless, Guns, and Love, Sex, and Eating the Bones, and series like She’s the Mayor and Shoot the Messenger. She wrote and directed Subjects of Desire and recently received the Canadian Media Producers Association’s Established Producer Award, and directed an episode of the series BLK: An Origin Story. Next, she is producing the feature Rip Tide.

Writer

Jennifer Holness

Cast

India Arie, Jully Black, Alexandra Germain

Producers

Jennifer Holness, Sudz Sutherland

Genre

Documentary

Interests

Arts and Culture, BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker, Discrimination, Female Filmmaker, History, Social Justice & Politics, Strong Female Leads

Original Language

English

Canadian Distributor

IndieCan Entertainment Inc.

8:37 Rebirth

Director Juanita Peters
Year 2021
Run Time 100min
Genre Drama

Jared Peters and Sergei Radic, two youth from vastly different backgrounds, become linked by an armed robbery gone wrong. When Jared is released from prison 22 years later, the trauma of that event returns and threatens both their lives.

Director

Juanita Peters

Writers

Joseph LeClair, Hank White

Cast

Glen Gould (Mi’qmaw), Pasha Ebrahimi, Mark A. Owen

Producers

Joseph LeClair, Hank White, Marty Williams

Genre

Drama

Interests

Black Filmmaker, Female Filmmaker

Original Languages

English, French, Other Language

Canadian Distributor

Rebirth Films

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Poor Boy’s Game

Director Clement Virgo
Year 2007
Run Time 104min
Genre Drama

Racial tensions are reignited in working-class Halifax when a young white man (Rossif Sutherland) is released from prison and forced to face the family and community of his victim: a young Black man beaten so brutally he has been left handicapped for life. Also starring Danny Glover.

Director

Clement Virgo

Virgo rose to prominence with his first feature, Rude, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and garnered two Genie nominations. He has also directed the films Poor Boy’s Game and Lie With Me, and hit TV shows such as The Wire, Regenesis and The Listener. He recently produced the show Greenleaf and directed episodes of Empire and Billions. His most recent film, Brother, premiered at TIFF 2022. 

Writers

Marguerite Pigott, Chaz Thorne, Clement Virgo

Cast

Danny Glover, Rossif Sutherland

Producers

Clement Virgo, Damon D'Oliveira, Chaz Thorne

Genre

Drama

Interests

BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker, Discrimination, Social Justice & Politics, Sports

Original Language

English

Canadian Distributor

Telefilm Canada

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When Morning Comes

Director Kelly Fyffe-Marshall
Year 2022
Run Time 87min
Genre Drama
The highly anticipated feature debut from award-winning filmmaker Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, When Morning Comes follows Jamal, a young Jamaican boy, as he says goodbye to his friends and family and prepares to leave his home behind. Though the decision of Jamal’s newly-widowed mother to send him to live with his grandmother in Canada comes out of concern for her son’s safety and his future after he gets in trouble at school, the prospect unsettles Jamal and exacerbates the friction in their relationship. 

With a languid, poetic visual style and psychologically complex depiction of relationships, When Morning Comes is a love letter to the strength and sacrifice of immigrant mothers.

(Note: not available for screenings in Canada on CanFilmDay 2023)
 

Director

Kelly Fyffe-Marshall

Kelly Fyffe-Marshall is a Canadian director, screenwriter, and social activist best known for her two-part short film Black Bodies, which won the Changemaker Award at TIFF 2020 and the Canadian Screen Award for Best Live Action Short Drama. Her other directing credits include the short films Reason Enough, Haven, Black White Blue, and Trap City. Her first feature film, When Morning Comes, premiered in the Discovery program at TIFF 2022 to critical acclaim.

Writer

Kelly Fyffe-Marshall

Cast

Shaquana Wilson, Djamari Roberts

Producers

Tamar Bird, Iva Golubovic, Sasha Leigh Henry

Genre

Drama

Interests

BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker, Family Relationships, Female Filmmaker, Newcomer Stories

Original Language

English

Canadian Distributor

Talawa Studios

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Vagrant

Director Caleb Ryan
Year 2020
Run Time 83min
Genre Drama

A homeless man in Toronto tries to turn his life around after adopting a stray dog.

Director

Caleb Ryan

Writer

Caleb Ryan

Cast

Ana Isabella Piñero, Luke Oparah

Producer

Caleb Ryan

Genre

Drama

Interests

Black Filmmaker, Social Justice & Politics

Original Language

English

Canadian Distributor

Dos Gatos Negros Films

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Invisible City

Director Hubert Davis
Year 2009
Run Time 75min
Genre Documentary

A powerful documentary set in the housing project of Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood, Invisible City follows two childhood friends, Kendell and Mikey, who face many challenges while growing up in single-parent homes in the inner city.

Academy Award-nominated director Hubert Davis follows the two young men over three years, setting this intimate portrait against the backdrop of a community in transition: The Regent Park housing projects are about to be torn down and it is unclear whether the redevelopment will result in a brighter future for the residents.

Social pressures tempt the young men to make poor choices, while their families root for them to succeed. Davis doesn’t provide easy answers to the problems at hand. Instead, he shows the real uncertainty and unpredictability in the young men’s lives.

Director

Hubert Davis

Davis’s first film, Hardwood, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Short Documentary. He received the Don Haig award at the Hot Docs festival for Invisible City, and has directed numerous award winning commercials, as well as the short film Aruba and the 2016 feature doc Giants of Africa. His 2017 short, Rivolta, won a Cannes Film Lion. his most recent feature doc Black Ice, premiered at TIFF 2022. Next, he is working on the series The Count.

Writers

Sondra Kelly, Hubert Davis, Mehernaz Lentin

Producers

Mehernaz Lentin, Gerry Flahive

Genre

Documentary

Interests

BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker, Social Justice & Politics

Original Language

English

Language Version

FR Subtitles

Canadian Distributor

National Film Board (NFB)

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Black Liberators WWII

Director Adrian Callender
Year 2021
Run Time 66min
Genre Documentary

Black Liberators WWII tells the heroic stories of Black Canadian and Caribbean soldiers who served in the Canadian Army during World War II. These little-known war stories reveal the amazing acts of bravery and patriotism of these soldiers, all while they faced the harsh realities of racism both at home and on the battlefield.

Director Adrian Callender invites audiences to uncover this history while paying homage to the individuals who fought for their country and their freedom. This ground-breaking documentary is an essential piece of Canadian history, ensuring that the sacrifices of these veterans are never forgotten.

Director

Adrian Callender

Writer

Adrian Callender

Producer

Elizabeth Trojian

Genre

Documentary

Interests

BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker, Discrimination, Global Experiences, History, Social Justice & Politics

Original Language

English

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Brother

Director Clement Virgo
Year 2022
Run Time 119min
Genre Drama
The latest film from director Clement Virgo, Brother is a beautifully shot master work of subtle, affecting storytelling. Adapted from David Chariandy’s award-winning novel of the same name, Brother tells the story of Francis and Michael, two Black Canadian brothers growing up in Scarborough in the early 1990s. Recently immigrated to Canada, the brothers navigate the challenges of growing up outsiders, with feet in two worlds.

Brother was named to TIFF’s annual Canada’s Top Ten list for 2022 and won a record 12 Canadian Screen Awards including Best Picture.

Brother is a film that reaffirms why I love movies…This is a vital piece of cinema that hasn’t received the buzz it deserves.” – Valerie Complex, Deadline Hollywood

Director

Clement Virgo

Virgo rose to prominence with his first feature, Rude, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and garnered two Genie nominations. He has also directed the films Poor Boy’s Game and Lie With Me, and hit TV shows such as The Wire, Regenesis and The Listener. He recently produced the show Greenleaf and directed episodes of Empire and Billions. His most recent film, Brother, premiered at TIFF 2022. 

Writer

Clement Virgo

Cast

Aaron Pierre, Lamar Johnson

Producers

Damon D'Oliveira, Sonya Di Rienzo

Genre

Drama

Interests

BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker, Family Relationships

Original Language

English

Canadian Distributor

Elevation Pictures

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Black Ice

Director Hubert Davis
Year 2022
Run Time 97min
Genre Documentary

This documentary, produced by Drake, LeBron James, Vinay Virmani, and Maverick Carter chronicles the legacy of anti-Black racism in hockey, from the early segregation of Nova Scotia’s Coloured Hockey League, its connections to the history of Africville and the experiences of today’s Black NHLers. This powerful film is a must-see critique of the systemic failures that have sidelined Black Canadians in a sport that’s built into the country’s DNA.

The latest feature from Academy Award-nominated director Hubert Davis, Black Ice won over audiences and critics alike upon its TIFF premiere in 2022, winning the festival’s People’s Choice Award for Documentaries. It was also named to TIFF’s annual Canada’s Top Ten list.  

Director

Hubert Davis

Davis’s first film, Hardwood, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Short Documentary. He received the Don Haig award at the Hot Docs festival for Invisible City, and has directed numerous award winning commercials, as well as the short film Aruba and the 2016 feature doc Giants of Africa. His 2017 short, Rivolta, won a Cannes Film Lion. his most recent feature doc Black Ice, premiered at TIFF 2022. Next, he is working on the series The Count.

Writer

Hubert Davis

Cast

P.K. Subban

Producer

Vinay Virmani

Genre

Documentary

Interests

BIPOC Stories, Black Filmmaker, Discrimination, Social Justice & Politics, Sports

Original Language

English

Canadian Distributor

Elevation Pictures