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What to See – Summary of Black Films Screening at TIFF 2012

What to See - Summary of Black Films Screening at TIFF 2012

Beginning tomorrow September 6, the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival will present over 24 short and feature-length films with black directors, content and/or cast (D,S,C).  This number includes nine films with black directors, three of whom are Canadian.

There’s plenty to see, and quite a few films/filmmakers we’ve discussed previously on this site, including Spike Lee’s Bad 25, Shola Lynch’s Free Angela & All Political Prisoners, Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere, Sudz Sutherland’s Home Again, and Charles Officer’s 100 Musicians. The films are described below along with screening times and locations.

Lineup via The Blackhouse Foundation.

North American Premieres

Bad 25(D,S,C) – Documentary Feature

Directed By: Spike Lee

For those who remember the time, the 1980s were the Age of MJ. With its string of irresistible number one hits and landmark videos, the 1982 album Thriller cemented the formidably talented Michael Jackson’s status as the King of Pop. But it was Jackson’s 1987 follow-up Bad that shifted his image and style toward something tougher, leaner, and more mature. A revolutionary turning point for the musician, Bad was a sensation in its own right, yielding a number of timeless megahits as well as the memorable video for its title cut, directed by none other than Martin Scorsese. Appropriately, this new documentary celebrating the album’s silver anniversary is helmed by another New York–based cinematic visionary: Spike Lee.

Showtimes:

Sat, Sept 15  9:00pm

Ryerson Theatre

Sun, Sept 16 12:00 pm

The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

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The Paper Boy (D,C) – Narrative Feature

Directed By: Lee Daniels

Jailhouse sex, life-saving golden showers, brutal bondage and all kinds of inventive nastiness — it’s remarkable to see what Lee Daniels can convince his A-list actors to do. Following on the monster success of the Academy Award®–winning Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire, Daniels has upped the ante with this fiery, deliciously campy chunk of Southern-fried Gothic.

Showtimes:

Fri, Sept 14 6:00pm

Visa Screening Room (Elign)

Sat, Spet 15 6:00pm

Ryerson Theater 

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International Premiere

Middle of Nowhere (D,S,C) – Narrative Feature

Directed By: Ava DuVenay

Writer-director Ava DuVernay received the Best Director prize at Sundance this year for this, her elegant and emotionally complex second feature, which revolves around a pressing and troubling question: How does a woman not lose herself when everything around her is falling away?

Showtimes:

Wed, Sept 12 8:45pm

Scotiabank 1

Thur, Sept 13 6:00pm

Scotiabank 2

Sat, Sept 15 9:15am

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 7

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Festival Gala Presentation

Free Angela & All Political Prisoners (S,C)  – Documentary Feature

Directed By: Shola Lynch  

Few American lives encapsulate the tumult and triumph of the civil rights movement as much as that of author, educator and radical activist Angela Davis. Her wide range of admirers extends to include Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. A professor at UCLA, an open member of the Communist Party and an associate of the Black Panthers, Davis possessed an incendiary cocktail of attributes that made her the establishment’s worst nightmare: not only was she educated, fiercely intelligent and fearlessly outspoken, she was also a socialist, an African-American and a woman. It’s an understatement to say that not everyone in the U.S. was ready for Angela Davis — and some in fact did their utmost to put her behind bars forever. Free Angela & All Political Prisoners is the gripping story of how Davis became an international icon of social revolution and progressive politics.

Showtimes:

Sun, Sept 9 1:30pm

Roy Thomson Hall

Mon, Sept 10 3:00pm

The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Sat, Sept 15 12:00pm

The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

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Short Cuts Canada

CanoeJacked (C) – Narrative Short

Directed By: Jonathan Williams

In this hilariously Canadianized take on the prison-break flick, two escaped convicts flee through the woods while being chased by a policeman. Luckily, they happen upon a canoe by the side of the river — but its nudist owner is far from eager to give it up. With bullets flying after them, the trio has no choice but to form an unusual alliance.

Showtimes:

Thur, Sept 13 6:15

TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Fri, Sept 14 9:30am

TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

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100 Musicians (D,S,C) – Narrative Short

Directed By: Charles Officer

City politics enters the bedroom as a couple quarrels over what they believe they heard on the radio. Is the mayor planning to hire 100 musicians, or is it 100 policemen? Charles Officer confronts our civic cynicism and optimism in this concisely constructed drama that is a timely reflection of Toronto’s current state of affairs.

Showtimes:

Mon, Sept 10   6:45pm

TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Tues, Sept 11 12:15 pm

TIFF Lightbox 4  

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Crackin’ Down Hard (S,C) – Narrative Short

Directed By: Mike Clattenburg

Pimpin’ ain’t easy. Nowhere is this more true than in the middle of the desert, where a young man out to hike and meditate in solitude is confronted with a proposition that might just be too hard to resist. Trailer Park Boys creator Mike Clattenburg’s irreverent sense of humour is showcased in this cautionary and ludicrously funny tale about succumbing to primal urges and the power of suggestion.

Showtimes:

Mon, Sept 10 6:45pm

TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Tues, Sept 11 12:15pm

TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

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With Jeff (D,S,C) – Narrative Short

Directed By: Marie-éve Juste

Haitian-Canadian Montreal teenager Nydia spends her days in a monotonous routine: cleaning the house, going to class, reading books of poetry. Wanting to shake up her life, she accepts a motorbike ride from her exciting, mysterious classmate Jeff, and finally discovers the thrill of spontaneity.

Showtimes:

Mon, Sept 10 6:45pm

TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Tues, Sept 11 12:15pm

TIFF Bell Lightbox 4  

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Contemporary World Cinema

Home Again (D,S,C) – Narrative Feature

Directed By: Sudz Sutherland    

Between 1999 and 2001, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States passed legislation which mandated that any foreign-born person convicted of a criminal offense could be deported to their country of origin. This led to the expulsion and deportation of many who had left those countries virtually in infancy, and had no knowledge of the nations they were being sent back to. The blowback from this policy is the subject of Sudz Sutherland’s gutsy drama Home Again.

Showtimes:

Wed, Sept 12 5:30pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 7

Fri, Sept 14 5:00pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 7

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Kinshasa Kids (S,C) – Narrative Feature

Directed By: Marc-Henri Wajnberg

Following on the heels of the hit documentary Benda Bilili, Marc-Henri Wajnberg’s Kinshasa Kids finds another hot band in the Congolese capital, but with two key differences. First, this is a fiction film, though it captures the spirit and texture of Kinshasa as well as any doc. Second, the story here begins from a premise all too common in many parts of Africa: the persecution of children branded as witches.

Showtimes:

Thur, Sept 6 7:15pm

TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Fri, Sept 7 3:00pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 9

Sun, Sept 16 6:00pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 3

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Burn It Up Djassa (D, S, C) – Narrative Feature

Directed By: Lonesome Solo

A raw, noir-tinged urban legend set to the cadence of slam poetry and the beat of street dance, Burn It Up Djassa signals the arrival of an exciting new artistic movement from Africa’s Ivory Coast.

Showtimes:

Tuesday September 11

Jackman Hall (AGO) 7:00 PM     

Thursday September 13

Jackman Hall (AGO) 10:00 PM   

Friday September 14

Scotiabank 4 12:45 PM

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Paradise: Love (S, C) – Narrative/Documentary Feature

Directed By: Ulrich Seidl

Austria’s perennial provocateur Ulrich Seidl has long shuttled back and forth between documentary and fiction, unconcerned with the conventional divisions between them. Though Paradise: Love, the first installment of a planned trilogy (to be followed by Paradise: Faith and Paradise: Hope) falls on the fiction side of the fence, Seidl’s scenario has a powerful non-fictional resonance as it explores the politically charged issue of sex tourism in the sun-kissed “paradise” of Kenya, where young hustlers will say yes to just about anything if the price is right.

Showtimes:

Fri, Sept 7 3:00pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 6

Sat, Sept 8 9:15am

Isabel Bader Theater

Sun, Sept 16 9:30am

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 7

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The Great Kilapy (D,S,C) – Narrative Feature

Directed By: Zézé Gamboa

In the Angolan language of Kimbundu, kilapy means scheme, fraud, or swindle, and accordingly, The Great Kilapy tells the story of a crooked but irresistible bon vivant who, on the eve of Angolan independence in 1975, pulls off a massive swindle at the expense of the Portuguese colonial administration. Inspired by a real figure, director Zézé Gamboa’s decade-spanning historical drama is a refreshing take on the national liberation story, and turns its conventions upside down with elegance and humour.

Showtimes:

Fri, Sept 7 3:15pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 2

Sat, Sep 8 12:15pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 10

Fri, Sept 14 8:15pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 6

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Three Kids (D,S,C) – Narrative Feature

Directed By: Jonas D’Adesky

The 2010 Haitian earthquake devastated the country’s capital and sent shockwaves around the world. The outpouring of grief and compassion was global, but few from outside the country have seen post-earthquake Haiti in as clear a light as Jonas D’Adesky in his debut film Twa timoun.

Showtimes:

Fri, Sept 7 5:45pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 3

Sat, Sept 8 12:45pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 3

Sat, Sept 15 9:00am

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 2

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Virgin Magarida (S,C) – Narrative Feature

Directed By: Licínio Azevedo

In 1999, veteran documentarian Licínio Azevedo made The Last Prostitute, a documentary on the “re-education camps” established by the Mozambican government shortly after the country won its independence after five hundred years of Portuguese colonial rule. The purpose of these camps was to develop the proper “revolutionary spirit” in the hearts and minds of women of ill-repute (that is, sex workers) through a harsh program of ideological indoctrination. The astonishing testimonies that Azevedo collected haunted him for years, and led directly to the script for Virgin Margarida(co-authored with Jacques Akchoti).

Showtimes:

Sun, Sept 9 3:30pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 9

Tues, Sept 11 8:30pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 8

Sun, Sept 16 12:00pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 10

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Rebelle (S,C) – Narrative Feature

Directed By: Kim Nguyen

Winner of the Best Actress prize at the Berlin Film Festival, Rebelle is an extraordinary portrait of survival. Director Kim Nguyen spent ten years bringing this story to the screen, basing his script on the stories of actual child soldiers and shooting entirely on location in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We are introduced to fourteen-year-old Komona (Rachel Mwanza) as she recounts the past two years of her life to her unborn child. 

Showtimes:

Fri, Sept 14 9:00pm

Visa Screening Room (Elgin)

Sat, Sept 15 3:00pm

TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

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Venus & Serena (S,C) – Documentary Feature

Directed By: Alex Gibney

Ever since Venus and Serena Williams started playing in tennis tournaments, they’ve provoked strong reactions­, from awe and admiration to suspicion and resentment. They’ve been winning championships for over a decade, pushing the limits of longevity in such a demanding sport. How long can they last? In Venus and Serena, we gain unprecedented access into their lives during the most intimidating year of their careers. Over the course of 2011, Venus grappled with an energy-sapping autoimmune disease while Serena battled back from a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. Neither Venus nor Serena let their adversities hold them back. They draw their greatest strength from each other.

Showtimes:

Tues, Sept 11 6:00pm

Ryerson Theater

Wed, Sept 12 2:30pm

Visa Screening Room (Elgin)

Sat, Sept 15 9:00am

The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema                                                                                                                        

 ————————                                                                                                           

Tiff Docs

The Central Park Five (S,C) – Documentary Feature

Directed By: Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon

In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers from New York City were arrested and charged for brutally attacking and raping a white female jogger in Central Park. News media swarmed the case, calling it “the crime of the century.” Journalists popularized the term “wilding” to describe a gang activity of randomly assaulting victims. Politicians, pundits and the public rushed to a judgment that carried a barely veiled undertone of racial and class prejudice. Convicted of the crime, the five teenagers spent between five to thirteen years in prison until, in 2002, the shocking news broke: they were innocent. Another man confessed to the crime, with DNA evidence to support his claim.

Showtimes:

Sun, Sept 9 11:45am

TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Thur, Sept 13 9:30pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 7

Sat, Sept 15 9:15am

TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

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How to Make Money Selling Drugs (S, C) – Documentary Feature

Directed By: Matthew Cooke

Stylishly shot and cheekily framed as a subversive educational film, How to Make Money Selling Drugs takes a satirical look at a serious subject. Blending authentic reportage with pop culture references and a video game — like progression from level to level, the film illustrates step-by-step how to create a drug empire, from dealing on the corner to running a major cartel. Slyly, director Matthew Cooke builds a powerful case that drug policy needs rethinking, as current laws foster a violent criminal underworld reminiscent of the Prohibition era.

Showtimes:

Fri, Sept 7 9:30pm

Scotiabank 1

Sun, Sept 9 9:30am

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 7

Sun, Sept 16 9:30pm

Scotiabank 1

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Iceberg Slim: A Portrait of a Pimp (S, C) – Documentary Feature

Directed By: Jorge Hinojosa

When Iceberg Slim published Pimp: The Story of My Life in 1969, he launched a potent and unusual literary career, influencing an audience that ranged from artists to street hustlers. The book dazzled with raw language that evoked a life experience different from the worlds of black writers such as James Baldwin or Ralph Ellison. Pimp sold nearly two million copies and was distributed internationally in translation. Slim’s output continued with bestsellers Trick Baby(made into a film), Mama Black Widow (taking on the taboo topic of black homosexuality), and a collection of essaysThe Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim. Yet when Slim died in 1992, much remained unknown about his life and what aspects of his writing were facts versus fiction.

Showtimes:

Sat, Sept 8 6:00pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 7

Sun, Sept 9 9:00am

The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Sun, Sept 16 4:00pm

Scotiabank 1

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Reincarnated (S,C) – Documentary Feature

Directed By: Andrew Capper

The scene opens, appropriately, in a cloud of smoke. Processions of Rastafari sing Niyabinghi chants around a roaring bonfire. Amidst the crowd is hip-hop icon Snoop Dogg (née Doggy Dogg), who intones in voiceover: “They want me to rap, but I don’t wanna rap. I’ve been on the top ever since I’ve been in. I got rap songs that will never die. What else can I do in the rap world?” Thus Calvin Broadus, Jr., the artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg, is rechristened Berhane (“The Light”) and adopts the majestic new music-world moniker “Snoop Lion.” In this close-up documentary by Vice Magazine global editor and director Andy Capper, we follow Snoop on his month-long pilgrimage to Jamaica as he embarks on “a journey of reincarnation of self” that is equal parts career reinvention and spiritual reawakening.

Showtimes:

Fri, Sept 7 6:45pm

TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Sat, Sept 8 9:00am

The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Sunday, Sept 16 6:45pm

Scotiabank 1

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The Secret Disco Revolution (S,C)  – Documentary Feature

Directed By: Jamie Kastner

The Secret Disco Revolution provides a comprehensive overview of disco from its early days at The Loft in NYC to its conquest of radio, its international impact, the fierce backlash against it, and its enduring legacy. It also shuttles nimbly between kitsch and critical analysis, offering intriguing glimpses into the disparity that exists between practitioners and theorists, and between lived experience and cultural artifact. The result is a meticulously researched documentary that is both cheekily fun and intellectually absorbing.

Showtimes:

Sat, Sept 8 9:45pm

Scotiabank 3

Thur, Sept 13 3:00pm

The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

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The Walls of Dakar  (D,S,C) – Documentary Feature

Directed By: Abdoul Aziz Cissé

Dakar is renowned for its prolific art scene and rich visual culture. This year, Senegal witnessed an unprecedented peaceful uprising that was sparked by an emerging generation of artists and journalists rallying in its capital. Senegalese filmmaker Abdoul Aziz Cissé and Wagane Guèye The Walls of Dakar chronicles the city’s recent — and already redacted — history, celebrating the everyday heroes who reinstated democracy in their country.

Showtimes: 

Mon, Sept 10 10:00pm

Jackman Hall (AGO)

Wed, Sept 12 4:00pm

Jackman Hall (AGO)

Fri, Sept 14 10:00pm

Jackman Hall (AGO)

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The We and the I (S,C) – Narrative Feature

Directed By: Michael Gondry

Teeming with rollicking charm and poignant drama, The We and the I sees Michel Gondry apply his unique style to a group of teenagers on their last day of school, as they ride a New York City bus the length of the Bronx to a summer of possibility and potential danger.

Showtimes:

Fri, Sept 7 6:45pm

Scotiabank 1

Sat, Sept 8 11:45am

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas

Sat, Sept 15 3:00pm

Scotiabank 1

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9.79 (S,C) – Documentary Feature

Directed By:  Daniel Gordon

In the history of the Olympics, there’s never been a controversy quite like what ensued following the men’s 100-metre race at Seoul in 1988. The match pitted fierce competitors Ben Johnson (Canada) and Carl Lewis (USA) against each other. Lewis was known as a savvy careerist who became an American hero at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. Johnson was his chief rival, considered an underdog due to his recovery from a pulled hamstring. In the time of 9.79 seconds, Johnson edged out in front of Lewis to win the Seoul sprint. Instantly, he became a hero across Canada. But that wasn’t the end. Two days later, in a reversal of fortune, the Olympic Committee announced that Johnson had failed a drug test. He lost his medal to Lewis in disgrace.

Showtimes:

Sat, Sept 8th 12:00pm

The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Sun, Sept 9th 7:00pm

Scotiabank 4

Sat, Sept 15 6:15pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 7

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Notable Black Cast

Disconnect (C) – Narrative Feature

Directed By: Henry Alex Rubin

Just how dangerous is the internet? Beyond the tabloid scare stories, what does it mean to live more and more of our life online? Few films have offered much insight outside of science fiction, but Disconnect explores the all-too-real dangers of how we live now.  Cast includes Paula Patton.

Showtimes: 

Tues, Sept 11 7:00pm

Princess of Wales

Wed, Sept 12 12:00pm

Ryerson Theater

Sun, Sept 16 9:15am

Scotiabank 3

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Silver Linings Playbook (C) – Narrative Feature

Directed By: David O. Russell

From the eccentric imagination of writer-director David O. Russell comes this comedy about coming back from losing it all. Based on Matthew Quick’s novel, Silver Linings Playbook is an audaciously funny examination of one man’s recovery from a personal and professional meltdown, with the help of parents, football, literature and an attractively strange neighbour. Cast includes Chris Tucker.

Showtimes: 

Sat, Sept 8 6:30pm

Roy Thomson Hall

Sun, Sept 9 11:00am

Visa Screening Room (Elgin)

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Smashed (C) – Narrative Feature

Directed By: James Ponsoldt

When we first meet functioning alcoholic Kate Hannah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), she’s already close to rock bottom. She takes a shot of whiskey to brace herself for a day of teaching first grade. When she vomits at school, a student asks if she’s pregnant. Desperate to disguise her hangover, she lies and says she is. It’s a deception that could cost her career, but also save her life. Cast Includes Octavia Spencer.

Showtimes:

Wed, Sept 12 6:00pm

Ryerson Theater

Thur, Sept 13 5:00pm

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 7

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Special Presentation

Cloud Atlas (C) – Narrative Feature

Directed By: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, and Andy Wachowski

David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas was a landmark literary event of the past decade, a globe-spanning, time-tripping puzzle-novel, whose cavalier unruliness belied its intricate design. It was one of those books that instantly elicited the adjective “unfilmable” — but to visionary filmmakers Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix), that was less caution than challenge. Spanning continents and millennia and borne aloft on the talents of a top-shelf cast — including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving and Jim Broadbent — this collaboration on Cloud Atlastransforms Mitchell’s dazzling novel into a mind-bending, genre-hopping cinematic experience. No movie this year more deserves the label “epic.” Cast includes Halle Berry.

Showtimes: 

Sat, Sept 8 6:00pm

Princess of Wales

Sun, Sept 9 11:30am

Winter Garden Theater

Sat, Sept 15 11:00am

Visa Screening Room (Elgin)

This Article is related to: Festivals