Toronto Black Film Festival features Nelson Mandela tribute

A decade ago, Haitian actress Fabienne Colas came to Montreal intent on bringing her critically acclaimed film Barikad to Canada.

“When I moved to Montreal, I was so happy because we had this film in Haiti that won all these awards and I wanted to show this film (to Canada),” she says.

On a recommendation from a friend, she presented the film to Montreal’s African Film Festival. “I went there, enthusiastic. ... To make a long story short, they didn’t accept it.

“I was humiliated by the way they said no to us. It was like: ‘Oh we have way better films than that.’ It was just to make me feel small. I said, you know what, we need another festival in Montreal.”

The spunky 33-year-old recounted this tale on Tuesday at the Carlton Cinema, where she was announcing the lineup for the second edition of the Toronto Black Film Festival (TBFF), being held Feb. 11-16.

That initial rejection in Montreal spurred Colas to create her own fest. TBFF is an extension of the Montreal International Black Film Festival, which she began in 2005 as the Montreal Haitian Film Festival, a three-day, three-film event.

This year TBFF boasts work from 34 filmmakers around the world. One of the highlights is a Tribute to Nelson Mandela on Feb. 16 at Carlton Cinema, which is a series of documentary shorts that show rarely glimpsed sides of the late South African leader’s life.

“I had wanted to come to Toronto,” says Colas of bringing her festival here. “There’s so much diversity and Toronto is known as the diversity city.”

TBFF Highlights:

Stedman Graham conference – Feb. 13

Lorraine Klaasen concert – Feb. 15

Robert Hillary King movie talk – Feb. 16

Tribute to Mandela – Feb. 16

More info: Torontoblackfilm.com

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