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Being Black in Canada

This collection of short films at the Halifax Black Film Festival explored a diverse range of topics

Park Lane Cineplex theatre hosted the 2024 Halifax Black Film Festival from Feb. 23 to Feb. 27. The festival showcased the work of Black artists, activists and storytellers. In a mostly empty theatre, I watched Being Black in Canada, a collection of short films showcasing the work of Black creatives.

The topics of the short films were diverse, ranging from the housing inequality shown in Noah Makanjuol’s The Invisibles, to the experience of creating art in Anthony Onwordi’s The Undervalued Quadrant, to the challenges of immigration in Gabriel Hudson’s Changing Tides. Each short film projected a unique point of view but, taken together, the films showcased the specificity of the Black Canadian experience. 

Many of the films touched on the creation of community through poetry, the power of Black voices and the way art allows for vulnerability and connection. 

Itete Gatete’s When Men Speak weaves together poetry and documentary-style filmmaking to talk about masculine ideals and their intersection with mental health issues in Toronto’s Black community. 

Rryla McIntosh’s Silver Lining uses the colour silver as a metaphor for adoption and blended families. 

Brendan Riley Cairns’s spoken word poetry features prominently in Bi and By Design, which addresses the complexities of being biracial in a primarily white city. Many filmmakers featured in Being Black in Canada 2024 used poetry as a storytelling tool to create a sense of connection and closeness with the audience. The festival is proof that art can be a means of connection, community and advocacy. 

What is resoundingly clear from watching the short films is that the Halifax Black Film Festival gives young Black creatives a platform to share their perspective on cultural, socio-economic and artistic experiences within their communities. 

An aspect that isn’t shown on film but is integral to the festival is the mentorship, training and creation program that gives young creatives the resources to present their films on a nation-wide stage. The Halifax Black Film Festival is required viewing for the cinephiles of Halifax—we’ll be keeping our eyes open for the festival’s 2025 return.

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