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Toronto Black Film Festival kicks off Feb. 15-20, trailer released

Created by the Fabienne Colas Foundation, this is the 11th annual TBFF. Black Screen Office founder Jennifer Holness will be honoured at the event.

Toronto Black Film Festival kicks off Feb. 15-20, trailer released
The official poster for the 2023 Toronto Black Film Festival. The event will run from Feb. 15-20 at various theatres in Toronto. 

The organizers of the Toronto Black Film Festival (TBFF) have released a much-anticipated trailer for its 11th annual event to celebrate Black filmmakers, actors, and directors.

Created by the Fabienne Colas Foundation, the TBFF kicks off on Feb. 15-20 and will include more than 125 films from 20 countries worldwide, including more than 37 world premieres.

“We are thrilled to be spotlighting more Black artists and authentic Black stories in Toronto. Thanks to the support of thousands of festivalgoers and the creativity of the artists, the TBFF has made big strides in creating awareness about the industry’s severe lack of diversity. With the support of our loyal partners, we will continue to leverage the power of the arts for even more social and economic impact,” Fabienne Colas, president and founder of the Black Film Festivals in Montreal, Toronto, Halifax, Ottawa, Calgary, and Vancouver, said in a statement.

Some must-see films include “Sheep's Clothings”, “Know Your Place,” “What We Do Next,” and “Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story.”

You can buy tickets here. Singles are between $12 and $25, or you can get an all-access pass here.

The opening film is “Lovely Jackson” by Matt Weldeck (Isabel Bader Theatre) and the closing film is “Aisha” by Frank Berry (Carlton Cimena, Room 9).

Weldeck’s film is about an exonerated prisoner, Rickey Jackson’s story, and a discussion about the psychology of survival and the spiritual fortitude required to withstand 39 years of wrongful incarceration for a murder he did not commit.

At the time of his release in 2014, Rickey was the longest person in American history to have been wrongfully imprisoned; he had spent 39 years on Ohio's most dangerous death row after being found guilty only based on the coerced eyewitness testimony of a 12-year-old neighbourhood newspaper boy.

Meanwhile, “Aisha,” is about a young Nigerian woman seeking asylum in Ireland while social unrest grips the country. She worries about the threat of deportation while trying to maintain her dignity in a foreign land.

You can check out the complete list of films here.

The film festival features celebrities such as Letitia Wright, Josh O'Connor, Columbus Short, Keith David, Ledisi, Colin Kaepernick, Rickey Jackson, Don Lemmon, Ossie Davis, Karen Pittman, Corey Stoll, Cesária Évora, and many more.

The TBFF will also pay tribute to award-winning writer, producer, and director Jennifer Holness as part of the opening night celebrations on Wednesday, Feb. 15. Holness is the first Black woman in Canada to win a Canadian Screen Award in the best writing category.

She is also the 2021 Indiescreen Producer of the Year and a 2022 WIFT Creative Excellence Award winner. The founder of the Black Screen Office will discuss her recent documentary, “Subjects of Desire,” which won numerous festival awards and was a 2021 TIFF Top 10 film, a statement reads.

You can check out a list of special events, including funding presentations for up-and-coming actors, producers, and directors and a networking session that will be held during the festival here.

Finally, on Thursday, Feb. 16, 30 emerging Black filmmakers from Montreal, Toronto, Halifax, Ottawa, Calgary, and Vancouver will present their world-premiere short films at the TBFF as part of the Fabienne Colas Foundation's Being Black in Canada program.

The festival is presented by Netflix in collaboration with the National Bank and supported by Telefilm Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts. TD and Global News are also partners.