From Dorothy Dandridge to Queen Latifah, Sidney Poitier to Denzel Washington, throughout time Black actors have forged inspirational careers in an industry that was not designed to help them prosper. Whether the big screen offered hostility, ignorance, or empowerment in its depiction of Black subjects, film history has presented a vast spectrum of Black representation. From the casual racism of Thomas Edison’s Watermelon Eating Contest in 1896 to the surprise and triumph of Barry Jenkins’ Academy Award win for Moonlight in 2017, for better or worse, Black people have been at the centre of cinema since its beginning.

Exploring ideas of erasure, Black stardom, radicalization and the Black experience throughout time, TIFF Cinematheque is proud to present Ashley Clark’s groundbreaking Black Star series in collaboration with the British Film Institute. TIFF’s edition of the series will highlight the important role Black talent has played in the realm of cinema with the addition of a specially curated selection of films focused on the roots of Black cinema in Canada.

Malcolm X

The Black Star lineup consists of a mix of hard-hitting documentary and narrative films, groundbreaking local Canadian work, and renowned special guests bringing audiences together for a transformative, educational, and enlightening experience. Highlights include Sidney Poitier’s searing performance in In the Heat of the Night (1967); an Emmy-winning documentary exploration of Black stereotypes and anti-Black prejudice in Ethnic Notions (1986); Malcolm X (1992), based on the iconic activist and orator’s autobiography; the 2003 TIFF Best Canadian First Feature winner and Sudz Sutherland’s debut feature Love, Sex and Eating the Bones (2003); and the Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall–starring comedy classic Coming to America (1988) with an introduction by Toronto’s own Kardinal Offishall.

Complete Black Star lineup below:

Love, Sex and Eating the Bones

In the Heat of the Night
dir. Norman Jewison | | USA 1967 | 109 min. | PG | Digital 4K Digital Restoration!
Introduction by Ashley Clark
Friday, November 3 at 6:30pm and Friday, November 17 at 11:15 am

Love, Sex and Eating the Bones dir. Sudz Sutherland | Canada 2003 | 100 min. | 18A 35mm
preceded by T.O. Hip-Hop Classics
Friday, November 3 at 9:15pm

Black Mother Black Daughter dirs. Sylvia Hamilton & Claire Prieto | Canada 1989 | 29 min. | G Digital
Preceded by Whitewash (2016) and Black Soul (2000)
Introduction by Nadine Valcin and Martine Chartrand
Saturday, November 4 at 4:00pm

Lime Kiln Club Field Day dirs. Edwin Middleton, T. Hayes Hunter & Sam Corker Jr. | USA 1913 | 65 min. | TK 35mm
Introduction by Ashley Clark
Live piano accompaniment by Thompson T. Egbo-Egbo
Saturday, November 4 6:30pm

To Sleep with Anger

Home Feeling: Struggle for a Community dirs. Jennifer Hodge & Roger McTair | Canada 1983 | 57 min. | TK Digital
Preceded by Walk Good (2016) and Reflections of Wata (2016)
Introduction by Karen Chapman
Sunday, November 5 at 1:00pm

Ethnic Notions dir. Marlon Riggs | USA 1986 | 57 min. | TK Digital
Preceded by Lip (1999)
Introduction by Ashley Clark
Sunday, November 5 at 3:45pm

Jean of the Joneses dir. Stella Meghie | Canada 2016 | 86 min. | PG Digital
Preceded by The Railpath Hero (2013) and Short Hymn, Silent War(2012)
Introduction by Laurie Townshend and Charles Officer
Tuesday, November 7 at 7:00pm

To Sleep with Anger dir. Charles Burnett | USA 1990 | 101 min.
| PG 35mm
Wednesday, November 8 at 9:00pm


Body and Soul dir. Oscar Micheaux | USA 1925 | 85 min. | PG Digital
Live piano accompaniment by Thompson T. Egbo-Egbo
Saturday, November 11 at 4:15pm

Annie dir. Will Gluck | USA 2014 | 118 min. | PG Digital 4K Digital Restoration!
Sunday, November 12 at 1:00 pm

Imitation of Life
dir. John M. Stahl | USA 1934 | 110 min. | PG Digital
Preceded by An Ecstatic Experience (2017)
Sunday, November 12 at 7:30pm

Malcolm X dir. Spike Lee | USA 1992 | 202 min. | PG 35mm
Saturday, November 18 at 4:30pm

Stormy Weather

The Proud Valley
dir. Pen Tennyson | UK 1940 | 76 min. | PG Digital
Preceded by A Star Drops In (1949)
Tuesday, November 28 at 6:30pm

Pool of London dir. Basil Dearden | UK 1951 | 86 min. | PG 35mm
Thursday, November 30 at 9:15pm

Stormy Weather
dir. Andrew L. Stone | USA 1943 | 78 min. | G Digital
Preceded by Illusions (1943)
Saturday, December 2 at 4:00pm

Coming to America dir. John Landis | USA 1988 | 117 min. | 14A Digital
Introduction by Kardinal Offishall
Sunday, December 3 at 6:00pm

Six Degrees of Separation

Six Degrees of Separation
dir. Fred Schepisi | USA 1993 | 112 min. | PG 35mm
Thursday, December 7 at 6:15pm

Bush Mama dir. Haile Gerima | USA 1975 | 97 min. | 14A 16mm Restored Print!
Preceded by The Diary of an African Nun (1977) and Child of Resistance (1972)
Introduction by Lydia Ogwang
Saturday, December 9 at 2:45pm

The Harder They Come dir. Perry Henzell | Jamaica 1972 | 109 min. | 14A Digital
Sunday, December 10 at 4:00pm

Car Wash

Rude dir. Clement Virgo | Canada 1995 | 89 min. | 14A Digital New Digital Restoration!
Introduction by Clement Virgo
Friday, December 15 at 6:30pm

Car Wash dir. Michael Schultz | USA 1976 | 97 min. | TK
Digital preceded by Split Ends, I Feel Wonderful (2012)
Saturday, December 16 at 3:15pm

Set It Off dir. F. Gary Gray | USA 1996 | 123 min. | R Digital
Sunday, December 17 at 6:30pm

Middle of Nowhere

Soul Survivor dir. Stephen Williams | Canada 1995 | 89 min. | 14A Digital
Wednesday, December 20 at 6:30pm

Lady Sings the Blues dir. Sidney J. Furie | USA 1972 | 144 min. | PG 35mm Archival IB Technicolor Print!
Thursday, December 21 at 6:15pm

Middle of Nowhere dir. Ava DuVernay | USA 2012 | 99 min. | 14A Digital
Friday, December 22 at 6:30pm