4th Annual Toronto Black Film Festival Reveals Robust Slate

Thina Sobabili
Thina Sobabili (The Two of Us)

The Toronto Black Film Festival (TBFF), announced today the programming line-up for the 4th edition of the festival, presented by Global News in collaboration with TD Bank, running February 10-14. Coinciding with Black History Month, the TBFF is proud to host another year celebrating diversity within the black communities through powerful films, exciting panels and special events.

“TBFF showcases the most outstanding and amazing black films while creating a space to debate major cultural, social and socio-economic issues,” said Fabienne Colas, President and Founder of the Festival. “Festival-goers will have the chance to see actors and directors from here and abroad sharing their passions. There’s something for everyone!”

“Global News is excited to partner with the Toronto Black Film Festival again this year. We’ve been a part of the festival since its inception and we’re delighted to see that it keeps growing each year. We congratulate the festival organizers for adding a unique voice to Canada’s diverse and vibrant arts community,” said Ward Smith, Senior Director, News and Station Operations, Eastern Region.

“TD is delighted this year to be co-presenting the Toronto Black Film Festival, part of TD’s 2016 Black History Month series celebrating arts and culture. We know that both residents and visitors to Toronto will be thrilled with this year’s amazing film festival screenings!” said Alan Conver, Director, Community Relations, TD Bank Group.

This year, TBFF is proud to offer 44 films, including eight world premieres, representing 20 countries. The opening night presentation is Thina Sobabili (The Two of Us), a drama about two siblings directed by Ernest Nkosi, which was South Africa’s submission to the Academy Awards® for the Best Foreign Language Film category.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Black Panther Party, TBFF is proud to present The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, the first feature-length documentary dedicated to the Black Panthers and directed by Stanley Nelson. Other noteworthy documentaries include Soul on Ice: Past, Present, Future, directed by Damon Kwame, about the legacy of black hockey players, Game Face, directed by Michiel Thomas, about gay and transgender athletes, and In My Father’s House, directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, about the hip hop artist Che “Rhymefest” Smith’s attempts to reconnect with his alcoholic father. The closing film is Mark Dornford-May’s Breathe Umphefumlo, a modern reworking of the opera La Boheme set in a South African shantytown.

New to the festival this year, TBFF Black Market is a series of industry panels and workshops with local and internationally renowned leaders, experts and visionaries, who will address today’s most critical filmmaking issues.

Special events include a Q&A discussion with The Book Of Negroes award-winning director Clement Virgo, a panel discussion about diversity on the screen featuring award-winning filmmaker Trey Anthony and a workshop presented by Actra Toronto on the How and Why of Making short films.

#TBFF16 is also introducing the TBFF Audience Choice Award! Winners will be revealed on Closing Night.

Here is the list of narrative features and documentaries screening at the festival:

Breathe_Umphefumlo
Breathe Umphefumlo

NARRATIVE FEATURE FILMS

AYANDA AND THE MECHANICS
Sara Blecher – South Africa | 2015 | 105’ | English
After losing her beloved father, Ayanda will do anything to preserve his memory. But her commitment to keeping his garage open unearths unexpected emotions and long-hidden family secrets.

BREATHE UMPHEFUMLO – CLOSING FILM
Mark Dornford-May – USA | 2015 | 90’ | English and Xhosa
A tribute to the Puccini opera La Boheme, this musical drama relocates the struggling students from Paris to a South African shantytown. As the young bohemians fight for food and shelter, they neglect to notice one of their group is suffering from TB.

BROOKLYN
Pascal Tessaud – France | 2014 | 83’ | French with English subtitles
Wannabe-rapper Coralie leaves Switzerland for the strife-torn suburbs of Paris to make a go of it in hip-hop. Her skills soon get noticed by other aspiring artists in the neighbourhood, played by real-life rappers and actual residents of the urban projects.

CHRISTMAS WEDDING BABY
Kiara C. Jones – USA | 2014 | 112’ | English Canadian premiere
Three sisters struggle to find happiness through the holiday season. The youngest sister and bride-to-be is traumatized when she discovers her first love has been hired as her wedding photographer.

DRY
Stéphanie Linus – Nigeria, UK | 2014 | 107’ | English
Zara, a successful African doctor living in Wales, is determined to stay away from her home country and dark childhood memories, until she discovers that her long-lost daughter might still be alive. Back in Africa, 13-year¬old Halima’s poor parents force her marry Sani, a 60-year-old man.

Knucklehead
Knucklehead

KNUCKLEHEAD
Ben Bowman – USA | 2015 | 83’ | English Canadian premiere
After his brother disappears, Langston, who lives with mental disability, falls under the control of his abusive mother. Taking his future into his own hands, he sets out to find a mysterious doctor who he hopes will cure him, venturing deep into the unscrupulous world of pharmaceutical marketing.

SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE
Lanre Olabisi – USA | 2015 | 90’ | English Canadian premiere
Four lovers’ lives collide as one marriage melts into several intertwining affairs. Structured like a jigsaw puzzle, the interwoven story is told from varying viewpoints, with no character fully grasping their dilemma.

THE BODA BODA THIEVES
Donald Mugisha – South Africa, Germany | 2015 | 85’ | Luganda with English subtitles
After his father is injured in a road accident, 15-year-old Abel takes up the responsibility of driving the family’s “boda boda” motorcycle taxi. But when a local hustler offers him the chance to be a snatch-and-grab getaway driver, he tumbles headfirst into a world of easy money and quick thrills.

THE GIRL IS IN TROUBLE
Julius Onah – USA | 2015 | 90’ | English Canadian premiere
After spending the night with a mysterious woman, a down-on-his-luck DJ discovers evidence of a murder involving a dangerous drug dealer and a billionaire’s son. Desperate for money, he must decide whether to blackmail the killer or help the woman escape.

THINA SOBABILI (THE TWO OF US) – OPENING NIGHT FILM
Ernest Nkosi -South Africa | 2015 | 90’ | Zulu with English subtitles
THINA SOBAILI is a coming-of-age story that follows young siblings Thulani and Zanele, whose relationship is strained when Zanele falls for an older man and plans to use him to escape her bleak surroundings. The film won the Best Picture Award at the Rwanda Film Festival, and audience awards at the Jozi Film Festival and the Pan African Film festival.

WHITE WATER
Rusty Cundieff – USA | 2014 | 83’ | English Young Michael lives in the deeply segregated world of 1963 Alabama. Obsessed with the abundant “whites only” signs, he decides to do the unthinkable: drink from a forbidden water fountain.

in-my-fathers-house
In My Father’s House

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE AND MID-LENGTH FILMS

EAVESDROPPING ON SOULS: A JOURNEY INTO HAITIAN ARTS
Jacqueline Jean-Baptise – Canada | 2015 | 51’ | English Canadian premiere
This documentary presents a beautiful collage of Haitian art, painting, photography, woodworking and sculpture, from artists both celebrated and unknown, set against the folk music of the Creole Choir of Cuba.

GAME FACE
Michiel Thomas -USA | 2015 | 90’ | English
This documentary tells the parallel stories of Fallon Fox, the first transgender Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) pro fighter, and Terrence Clemens, a college basketball player in Oklahoma who happens to be gay. The film follows both athletes during their coming-out process and sheds light on the obstacles LGBTQ sports players must overcome. Former NBA star Jason Collins shines as a mentor for Terrence in this inspiring documentary.

IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE
Ricki Stern – USA | 2015 | 93’ | English Canadian premiere
Hip-hop artist Che “Rhymefest” Smith purchases his childhood home on Chicago’s South Side in order to raise his young family in the house where he grew up. He quickly discovers that his estranged father is a homeless alcoholic living only blocks away, and hesitantly sets out to reconnect with the man who abandoned him over twenty years ago.

JIMMY GOES TO NOLLYWOOD
Jimmy Jean-Louis, Rachid Dhibou – USA | 2015 | 52’ | English
Few people know that Nigeria is one of the largest movie producers in the world, ahead of Hollywood and just behind India’s Bollywood. This documentary follows actor Jimmy Jean-Louis to the Africa Movie Academy Awards and presents the viewer with a colourful and rich panorama of the world of ‘Nollywood’.

MY FATHER’S LAND
Miquel Galore, K. Tyler Johnston – The Bahamas, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, USA, Trinidad & Tobago, Spain | 2015 | 67’ | English, Haitian Creole and Spanish with English subtitles
Papa Jah, a humble gardener, lived in the Bahamas for 40 years. Now he returns to Haiti to see his 103-year¬old father and reunite with the land he left.

SOUL ON ICE: PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE
Damon Kwame – Canada | 2015 | 84’ | English
This documentary explores the seldom-recognized contributions to ice hockey from black athletes, who have dared to make the sport their own.

the-black-panthers-vanguard-of-the-revolution
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION
Stanley Nelson – USA | 2015 | 116’ English
The first feature-length documentary to explore the Black Panther Party goes straight to the source, presenting a treasure trove of rare archival footage with voices people who were there: police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, and Black Panthers who remained loyal to the party and those who left it. Featuring Kathleen Cleaver, Jamal Joseph and many others, the film is an essential history and a vibrant chronicle of this pivotal movement that birthed a revolutionary culture in America.

THE CULTURE
Noube Rateau – USA | 2014 | 55’ | English Canadian premiere
This timely documentary sheds light on gun culture in America’s urban neighborhoods. It investigates the environment, results, and motives behind the country’s addiction to firearms.

THE FLYING STAR
Ngardy Conteh, Allan Tong – USA | 2014 | 65’ | English
Team captain Bornor Kargbo and midfielder Census Jalloh are amputees who play organized soccer in Sierra Leone to cope with the horrors of war they suffered a decade ago. As they dream of playing internationally, they wrestle with nightmares that haunt their daily lives and threaten the very families they are trying to feed.

WES
Samuel Lehner – Canada | 2015 | 82’ | English World premiere
Wes Hall is one of Canada’s most influential business leaders and a recent Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. As a child raised by his grandmother in a tin shack in rural Jamaica, Wes overcame heartbreaking adversity. After moving to Canada as a young man, his drive and determination brought success in both his business and family life.

For the full list of films (including the short films screening), events, and ticket information, please be sure to visit the Toronto Black Film Festival website.