In her captivating documentary Black Mother Black Daughter Sylvia Hamilton explores the influential women who not only shaped her life, but the black community in Nova Scotia as a well. Interviewing a wide range of women, from an acapella group to a politician to a basket weaver to a foster mother, Hamilton constructs a mesmerizing portrait of strength and perseverance. If the sight of a black female mayor in a town that was once notoriously racist is not enough to inspire, Hamilton has a slew of other women that will. When the acapella singers croon “made it through some hard times…” you know they are echoing the struggle of generations of women.

One of the most riveting moments arrives when Hamilton and a scholar go searching local museums for representations of the slave experience. What they find is disheartening to say the least. Though society may have chosen to forget the women who were once treated like furniture for ruthless masters, Hamilton’s film keeps their spirits, and the accomplishments of their descendants, at the forefront. Her film wonderfully preaches the importance of empowering black women from an early age. By seeing and understanding the achievements of those who came before them, it helps to fuel the next generation of women to aim even higher in the realm of what is possible. It is a message that should be shouted from the roof tops all over Canada.

Screens (as part of Shorts Program: Redux):
Friday, April 27, 12:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of TIFF’s Black Star series. Black Mother Black Daughter is screening at Hot Docs as part of the Redux program.