TBFF 2015: Bee & Julie-Julie, The Silent Treatment, Haleema, Betty’s Blues
Considering the number of quality feature films and documentaries playing the Toronto Black Film Festival (TBFF), it is easy to overlook the wealth short films screening as well. Fortunately we have you covered. Today we take a brief look at a couple of the short films that are playing TBFF this year.
Bee & Julie-Julie
Bee and her cousin Julie-Julie may have different skin tones, but share a passionate love for soccer. A dynamic duo on the field, and dubbed “salt and pepper” by their coach, the girls’ insecurities start to manifest when an upcoming team banquet is set to cast them into the spotlight. Created by Salwa Majoka & Christine Chung, Bee & Julie-Julie is a film that should be required viewing for young girls. It tackles themes of body image, racism, and self-confidence in a way that never talks down to its audience. Unafraid to broach weighted issues, such as skin bleaching and bronzing products, Bee & Julie-Julie provides much food for thought underneath its innocent packaging.
Screens with You Belong to Me: Sex, Race and Murder on the Suwannee River
Wednesday, February 11, 7 PM, Carlton Cinema
The Silent Treatment
Paying homage to the silent era of cinema, The Silent Treatment strives to put a classic spin on the battle of the sexes. Middle of Nowhere’s Emayatzy Corinealdi stars as Loretta, a woman who decides to give her husband, Lonny (Jacoby Mosby), the silent treatment after catching him getting cozy with another woman. The bulk of the film’s humour stems from Lonny’s feeble attempts to reassert his manly dominance in the household. While an enjoyable romp – director Martine Jean does a good job capturing the aesthetics of silent films – The Silent Treatment lacks the substance needed to truly resonate with the viewer.
Screens with Bound: Africans vs African Americans
Thursday, February 12, 5 PM, Carlton Cinema
Set in the Sudanese desert, Boris Schaarschmidt’s film does not attempt to hide or sugar coat its agenda. The film follows a young girl, Haleema (Dara Iruka), as she tries to evade members of the Janjaweed militia in her quest to find water for her mother and ailing brother. Haleema is designed to evoke both thought and action in regards to the world-wide water crisis – according to Schaarachmidt’s film a staggering 1.7 billion people lack access to water. Though its intentions are admirable, the film does not pack the punch needed to really hit the message home. Schaarschmidt drops the audience right into the middle of the story assuming that they already know the history of the region. As a result the characters, especially the Janjaweed soldiers, come off rather one-dimensional. Given more time to flesh out the characters, Haleema could have been a blistering rally cry.
Screens with Killing Time and When Tables Turn
Friday, February 13, 9 PM, Carlton Cinema
In Rémi Vandenitte’s film Betty’s Blues, a mild-mannered guitarist enters a Louisiana blues bar in the 1920s intent on singing a song of love and revenge. Unprepared for the singer’s darkly themed tune, the audience is treated to a harrowing musical tale about a blind musician determined to settle a score with the Ku Klux Klan. Mixing claymation with traditional and non-traditional animation, Vandenitte weaves together a surprisingly moving film steeped in both history and lore. The short gives the power of music an almost mythical allure. It not only lifts the spirits of the downtrodden, but also provides the strength needed to face the worst that mankind has to offer. Similar to the melodic cords that the guitarist strums, Betty’s Blues reverberates in the viewer’s mind long after the short ends.
Screens with Ninah’s Dowry
Saturday, February 14, 9 PM, Carlton Cinema