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Toronto Black Film Festival’s 2015 Full Lineup (38 Filmmakers Representing 18 Countries + Special Events)

Toronto Black Film Festival's 2015 Full Lineup (38 Filmmakers Representing 18 Countries + Special Events)

Via press release, here’s the full lineup for the Toronto Black Film Festival’s 3rd edition, presented by Global News, which runs from February 10th – 15th. 

“TBFF showcases the most outstanding and amazing black films while creating a space to debate major cultural, social, and socio-economic issues,” stated Fabienne Colas, President and Founder of the Festival. “Over the course of six days, 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 us thrilled to be partnering with the Toronto Black Film Festival once again, and we congratulate the festival orgainizers for adding a unique voice to Canada’s diverse and vibrant arts community,” said Ward Smith, Senior Director, News and Station Operations, Eastern Region.

This year, TBFF offers works from 38 filmmakers and feature premieres from 18 countries, including Belgium, Canada, Cameroon, Colombia, England, France, Germany, Haïti, Israël, Kenya, Nigeria, Portugal, Sénégal, South Africa, South Sudan, The Netherlands, Uganda, and USA.

The festival opens at the Isabel Bader Theatre with the award-winning film “Manos Sucias” (“Dirty Hands”), by Joseph Wladyka, executive produced by Spike Lee. 

Also, TBFF pays tribute to Blaxploitation icon Fred “The Hammer” Williamson and Hollywood legend Bill Cobbs this year. They will be the first to receive an honorary award from TBFF. As part of TBFF’s special events programming, the Festival is proud to run a three-part “Blaxploitation” series, featuring a screening the 1975 cult-classic “Boss,” as well as “An Intimate Night With Fred “The Hammer” Williamson,” and the closing night TBFF Blaxploitation Party.

TBBF will also host a “Black Actors in Hollywood, Then and Now” panel discussion – featuring actors Fred Williamson, Lanette Ware and Bill Cobbs.

Other highlights include: “Una Vida: A Fable of Music and the Mind,” “Terrible Love,” “Nina’s Dowry,” “AIDependence: The Many Ills of the NGO System,” “The Supreme Price,” “We Are The Ones,” “You Belong To Me: Sex, Race and Murder on the Suwannee River,” “Sewing Hope: The Story of Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe,” “Bound: Africans VS African-Americans,” “Des Étoiles” (“Under the Starry Sky”), “Haleema,” “Freedom Road,” “Narvalo” and many more! 

Look for individual highlights in future posts; in the meantime, the full lineup of films and special events follows below:



Presented by Global News

Isabel Bader Theatre – Tuesday, February 10, 2015 – 7:30 PM – $25

Joseph Wladyka, executive produced by Spike Lee – USA, Columbia | 2014 | 82’ | Spanish with English subtitles

Towing a submerged torpedo in the wake of their battered fishing boat, Jacobo, a desperate fisherman and Delio, a naive kid, embark on a journey trafficking millions of dollars of cocaine up the Pacific coast of Colombia. Refusing to glamorize the drug trade, Manos Sucias instead offers a rare glimpse of its devastating effects.


An unprecedented celebration of the deeply influential and flourishing commercial Black independent filmmaking of early 1970s that became known as “Blaxploitation” – present across many genres including the Western, the police drama, the gangster film, horror, prison flicks, biker movies, the biopic, sports dramas, martial arts, musical documentary and comedy. Pimps, dealers, gangsters and prostitutes prowl though the frames of these movies, which also provided a solid soapbox for political voices and social concerns, and saluted the proud and the free. These films often featured tough protagonists standing up to “the Man” and against blind authority, corruption, drug trafficking, societal decay, organized crime and racism. Many of them capture the struggles of a community in a time of emancipation. This series is co-presented by Fantasia International Black Film Festival.


Jackman Hall – Art Gallery of Ontario – Friday, February 13, 2015 – 6:30 PM – $20

Fred Williamson rose to prominence as one of the first African-American action stars of the “Blaxploitation” genre of the early 1970s; going on to lead to a long and illustrious career as an actor, director, writer, and producer. TBFF celebrates his contributions to the cult genre by awarding him with the TBFF 2015 Pioneer Award, followed by a screening of BOSS and a Q&A with Williamson himself.

BOSS (as part of An Intimate Night with Fred “The Hammer” Williamson)

Jackman Hall – Art Gallery of Ontario – Friday, February 13, 2015 – 6:30 PM

Jack Arnold – USA | 1974 | 87’ | English

With: Fred Williamson, d’Urville Martin, William smith, Barbara Leigh

The 1975 cult-classic Boss follows the story of a former slave named Boss who takes his freedom by force, and his loyal sidekick Amos scour the landscape in pursuit of Ged Layton, a white fugitive with a substantial price on his head. They’re going to bring law and order, and dispense a few lessons in human decency before they collect the reward for Layton. This screening will follow a tribute to Fred Williamson and will precede a discussion with the actor.


Revival – Sunday, February 15, 2015 – 9 PM – $30 ($40 @ the door).

Co-presented by: G98.7FM, Radio-Canada, Fantasia International Film Festival, Montreal International Black Film Festival, Unleashed Legacies

TBFF concludes with a celebration of the deeply influential “Blaxploitation” genre that redefined film in the 1970’s and beyond. First, a mix of film clips and trailers by DJ XL5, followed by an all-night dance party hosted by several of Toronto’s most popular DJs. Partygoers are encouraged to wear ‘70s inspired wigs, heels, accessories, and colourful outfits to boogie the night away.



Jackman Hall – Art Gallery of Ontario – Saturday, February 14, 2015 – 6:30 PM – $20

Hollywood Legend Wilbert “Bill” Cobbs has starred in over 160 television programs and movies. Cobbs will receive the Toronto Black Film Festival’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his amazing body of work and for his great contribution to Films both in Television and Cinema. The award ceremony will precede the special screening of Una Vida: A Fable of Music and the Mind, by Richie Adams. Followed by a Q&A session with the famed actor and the director of the film.



Jackman Hall, AGO – Sunday, February 15, 2015 – 5 PM – $20

Panelists include: Fred Williamson, Actor, Director, Producer, Writer; Bill Cobbs, Actor; Lanette Ware, Actress

Hosted by: Rosey Edeh, Anchor of the “News at Noon” and host of “The Morning Show” at Global News.

This year we are excited to host a panel discussion about Black actors in modern Hollywood from the 1970’s to today. In recent years we’ve seen some amazing success for black films. The popularity and praise for such films as The Butler, 12 Years a Slave, Mandela, The Long Road to Freedom and Selma has created many opportunities for black actors. Is it a temporary trend or has the tide finally shifted?


Carlton Cinema – FREE panel discussions! See all details and line-up at

INCLUSIVITY IN SCREEN BASED MEDIA: Examining history and planning our future.

Presented by ACTRA Toronto

Saturday, February 14 – 1:00 PM

ACTRA has been a leader, championing inclusivity in our industry for over 30 years. Many positive steps have been made, yet there is still work to do. Come join a powerhouse panel that includes industry professionals for an important discussion on how far we’ve come and what the next steps might be to ensure a rich cultural landscape on our screens. Hosted by: Sedina Fiati – ACTRA Member and Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee. Panelists include: Gail Harvey, Director; Michael White, Agent (Characters); Deanna Cadette, heads the BellMedia Diversity Screenwriters program; Angelica Lisk-Hann, Actor/Stunt Performer/Stunt Co-ordinator.

NATURAL OR NOT? THAT’S THE QUESTION! Black women’s hair & identity in today’s society.

Sunday, February 15 – 1:00 PM

Many black women use chemicals to keep their hair curly or straight instead of nappy and kinky. Black women’s hair has become a hot topic since the release of Chris Rock’s 2009 documentary, Good Hair and the past few years have seen a growing movement that calls on Black women to get back to being Natural. Our panel will discuss the socio-political and historical issues around Black hair – gathering women on both sides of the fence for a real talk on the subject. Panelists include: Stephanie Joseph, Founder/Co-Producer of Toronto Naturals; Anya Grant, Founder and Creative Director of I Heart my Hair; Masani Montague, Founder/Coordinator of RastaFest.




Alton Glass – USA | 2013 | 85’ | English

A tight knit group of young high school athletes have a terrible crash after winning the state championship – a catastrophe that will shape all their lives. But as adults, some 15 years later, they come together again for a reunion that will open olds wounds, expose long-hidden secrets – and pave the road to forgiveness and redemption.


Arthur Muhammad – USA | 2013 | 112’ | English

When a man finds a woman, who seeks a man, he only gets one chance at a first impression…or does he? First Impression is a romantic comedy that takes you on an enchanting journey into the complex world of Internet dating. Completely unaware of their secret fantasy relationship in cyberspace, a twist of fate brings the real Vernon and Imani together where the pair hit it off instantly. But when the truth of who they really are is revealed in a bizarre trail of events, the game-changing question is: Can there ever really be a second chance at a “first impression”?


Russ Parr – USA | 2014 | 120’ | English

A freak accident jolts 15 year-old Shelby Carson from her peaceful world of silence and seclusion to the center of a world of chaos, confusion and imminent danger. As she struggles to cope with her new found circumstances, Shelby battles with what she learns about the people around her… complete strangers and her dearest loved ones. What seems to be a blessing from God on the surface could very well be a curse that brings her family to their knees. Relationships are tested, and secrets are revealed, in this untold story of family, faith and the resolve of a young girl who just wants her life back to normal.


Josef Wladyka – USA, Colombia | 2014 | 82’ | Spanish with English subtitles

Executive Produced by Spike Lee

Towing a submerged torpedo in the wake of their battered fishing boat, Jacobo, a desperate fisherman and Delio, a naive kid, embark on a journey trafficking millions of dollars of cocaine up the Pacific coast of Colombia. While Jacobo is a seasoned trafficker, young Delio is unprepared for the grim reality.


Victor Viyuouh – Cameroon | 2012 | 95’ | Pidgin, English, and Babanki, with English subtitles

At 20 years old, Ninah has already been married for seven years and has three children. Her husband is abusive and there is no chance that he will let up. When she learns that her father is gravely ill, she runs to his bedside, without waiting for her husband’s approval. He finds out that she is pregnant and far away and demands to be repaid the dowry he paid, by any means necessary.


Christopher Thomas – USA | 2013 | 93’ | English

A bittersweet autopsy of mental illness and lost love, Terrible Love tells the story of Rufus, a wounded veteran returning home from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder, and his devoted wife Amy. They promised never to leave each other, but that promise is put to the ultimate test when Rufus’ PTSD becomes violent. Terrible Love dives head first into the heart-breaking effects of PTSD, the relationships it hurts, and the lives it threatens.


Filipe Henriques – Portugal | 2013 | 97’ | Portuguese with English subtitles

Beware those who leave unresolved issues with the dead. Prosecuting Attorney David Lunga’s success is overshadowed by the terrifying secrets of Rosa, a beautiful but mysterious woman with whom he falls in love. What mysteries does she hide? As the macabre facts unravel, David comes face to face with his own demons and is driven to prove his innocence, recover his reputation and, above all, clear his own conscience.


Dyana Gaye – France, Sénégal | 2013 | 86’ | French, Wolof, Italian with English subtitles

Sophie, 24 years old, leaves Dakar to join her husband, Abdoulaye, in Turin. Meanwhile, Abdoulaye has already left for New York through a smuggler’s network. 19-year-old Thierno is traveling in Africa for the first time. Recounting these three characters’ destinies, Under The Starry Sky takes us on a journey through the diversity of the cities the characters travel to, confronting us with the realities, hopes, and dreams of contemporary emigration.


Richie Adams – USA | 2014 | 97’ | English with English subtitles

A story about a beautiful street musician suffering from memory loss and a disheartened neuroscientist intent on helping her, bringing together the city of New Orleans and the jazz that made it famous.




Alice Smeets – Belgium | 2014 | 90’ | French, Creole, English, Dutch with English subtitles
After many years of receiving a considerable amount of foreign aid, Haiti remains an impoverished and fragile state. But why? There are currently more NGO’s in Haiti than any other country in the world. But the projects all fail, be it on the short or long term. How can this be? Aidependence tells the story of the extremely controversial relationship between the people of Haiti and international aid. In her first feature-length movie, award-winning photojournalist Alice Smeets reveals the detrimental effects of an overabundance of NGO’s: dependence, passivity, corruption, economic destruction and the loss of solidarity.


Peres Owino – USA | 2014 | 91’ | English

Produced by Isaiah Washington

Bound: Africans VS African-Americans is a hard-hitting documentary that addresses the little known tension that exists between Africans and African Americans. The film opens with personal testimonials that expose this rift then walks us through the corridors of African colonialism and African American enslavement, laying bare their effects and how these have divided and bound Africans and African Americans.


Jonathan Stack and Nicolas Cuellar – USA | 2013 | 93’ | English

In May of 2012, 75 actors and one theater director, all inmates at Angola Prison and Louisiana Correctional Institution for Women came together before a thousand free people, and performed the Passion of Christ in the largest theatrical event ever in a prison. The cast and crew were made up of murderers and robbers, thieves, prostitutes, and no doubt a few wrongly convicted. They are the very men and women to whom Christ would have preached. The actors’ stories and the films story weave together to tell a powerful tale of redemption and forgiveness. The journey provides an intensely personal mirror for all people, regardless of faith or religion, who are drawn to explore their own spiritual path. It took two years of daily rehearsals to pull off this feat, a long time by theater standards, but not by the standards of Angola, where the average sentence is 93 years.


Jaap Van Hoewijk – The Netherlands | 2013 | 54’ | English with English subtitles

Filmed in a “cinema direct” style, the film witnesses how a family is killing time while waiting for the execution of their loved one in Huntsville, Texas. Killing Time is “a naked” film: no music, no effects. Nothing to amplify or influence the images. Just the story, just the facts. Killing Time allows the viewer make up his own mind.


Deerek Watson – USA (filmed in Uganda) | 2013 | 54’ | English, Acholi, with English subtitles

For 25 years, Joseph Kony and his Lord’s resistance Army terrorized Northern Uganda. Children were stolen from their families and brainwashed to be soldiers. Girls were degraded as sex slaves for Kony’s officers. The gunfire has ceased, but one battle remains – the battle to restore the future of the children of Uganda. Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker tells this story of one woman’s fight to bring hope back to her nation. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe leads a vocational school in Gulu, Uganda, where she uses practical skills to restore dignity, independence, and hope to formerly abducted women.


Keren Shayo – Israël | 2013 | 58’ | Hebrew, Tigrinya, Arabic with English subtitles

Since 2006 when Europe closed its borders, human trafficking has burgeoned in Egypt’s Sinai desert, where Eritrean asylum seekers and refugees heading north to Israel are kidnapped, held hostage, and tortured by Bedouin smugglers demanding exorbitant ransoms for their freedom. Fleeing an oppressive military dictatorship at home, with a “shoot-to-kill” policy at the border and where only pregnant women are exempted from service, over 300,000 Eritreans have fled their homeland in North Africa. Many of these men, women and children die in Sinai’s torture camps.


Rachelle Salnave – USA | 2014 | 62’ | English, Haitian Creole, French with English subtitles

A story about a Haitian American filmmaker s journey to discover her Haitian roots by examining the complexities of the Haitian society as it pertains to the overall political and economic dichotomy in Haiti. Using her own personal family stories interconnected with capturing the voices of Haitians and experts overall, this film chronologically uncovers the rational behind its social class system but also how it has affected the Haitian American migration experience as well. With the proliferation of political turmoil, poverty, and now an earthquake shattered nation, La Belle vie: The Good Life in the end beckons all to lay down their arms, be it the tangible weapons of death and pain or the psychological and spiritual tools of division and prejudice, and work as one to rebuild a new and stronger Haiti.


Joanna Lipper – USA, Nigeria | 2014 | 75’ | English with English subtitles

Director Joanna Lipper elegantly explores past and present as she tells the remarkable story of Hafsat Abiola, daughter of human rights heroine Kudirat Abiola, and Nigeria s President-elect M.K.O. Abiola, who won a historic vote in 1993 that promised to end years of military dictatorship. shortly after the election M.K.O. Abiola s victory was annulled and he was arrested. While he was imprisoned, his wife Kudirat took over leadership of the pro-democracy movement, organizing strikes and rallies, winning international attention for the Nigerian struggle against human rights violations perpetrated by the military dictatorship. Because of this work, she too became a target and was assassinated in 1996. In this riveting political thriller, the Abiola family’s intimate story unfolds against the epic backdrop of Nigeria’s evolution from independence in 1960.


Thomas Allen Harris – USA | 2014 | 92’ | English

Black photographers and the emergence of People is a documentary about how African American communities have used the camera as a tool for social change from the invention of photography to the present. This epic tale poetically moves between the present and the past, through contemporary photographers and artists whose images and stories seek to reconcile legacies of pride and shame while giving voice to images long suppressed, forgotten, and hidden from sight.


Michel Skinner & Jon Mitchael Shink – USA, South Sudan | 2014 | 62’ | English, Arabic, Dinka with English subtitles

When tribal feuds ignite a firestorm of violence, three surgeons unite for peace. Francis grew up with little schooling during the Sudanese Civil War. Ajak is a Lost Boy who has returned to the tribe he fled as a child. Both men are protégés of Glenn, a grizzled, but brilliant American surgeon. We Are The Ones follows these healers as they fight to prevent illness in the world’s newest country. After tribal divides erupt into violent raids that threaten their clinics, these men embark on a journey to protect their patients and bring peace to their people. We Are The Ones blends verite techniques with cinematic visuals to bring the audience a visceral account of the constant war between life and death in south Sudan.


John Cork – USA | 2014 | 88’ | English

The You Belong To Me documentary tells the 1952 story of Ruby McCollum, an African American woman who killed a prominent white doctor in Live Oak, Florida and the remarkable secrets and terrible truths revealed during her trial and incarceration. Her case haunted jurors and prosecutors for decades.




Shane Vermooten – South Africa | 2013 | 22’ | English and Xhosa with English subtitles


Boris Schaarschmidt – Germany, USA | 2013 | 17’ | Arabic with English subtitles


Alicia Bunyan Sampson – Canada | 2014 | 11’ | English


Mark One – England | 2014 | 6’ | English


Shawn Gerrard – Canada | 2013 | 10’ | English with French subtitles


Rachel Goldberg – USA | 2014 | 14’ | English with English subtitles


Ayana Sounders – Nigeria | 2013 | 14’ | English


Christophe Switzer – France | 2013 | 18’ | French with English subtitles


Richard B. Pierre – Canada | 2014 | 1’ | English with English subtitles


Martine Jean – USA, Haïti | 2013 | 9’ | English with English subtitles


Michael Foster – USA | 2013 | 20’ | English




Sean Addo – USA | 2013 | 23’ | English with English subtitles


Yasmin Shiraz – USA | 2014 | 42’ | English with English subtitles




Salwa Majoka & Christine Chung – Canada | 2014 | 8’ | English


Remy Vandenitte – Belgium, France | 2013 | 12’ | English

*TBFF’s special selection

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