Forgotten Kingdom Opens Toronto Black Film Fest By staff
(February 11, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) The 2014 edition of the Toronto Black Film Festival gets underway tonight almost in the middle of Black History Month. The opening film is the remarkable South African feature The Forgotten Kingdom. The story centres on Atang Mokoenya, played by Jerry Mofokeng. Atang sets out on a journey from Johannesburg to return to his ancestral land of Lesotho, where he must bury his estranged father in the remote, mountainous village where he was born. Stirred by memories of his youth, he falls in love with his childhood friend, Dineo, now a radiant young school teacher. Through her, Atang is drawn toward the mystical beauty and hardships of the people and land he had forgotten.
The Toronto Black Film Festival (TBFF) was created in 2013 by the Fabienne Colas Foundation, a not-for-profit, professional, artistic organization dedicated to promoting Cinema, Art and Culture in Canada and abroad. The organization had previously created the successful Montreal International Black Film Festival.
Thirty-three short, medium-length and feature films will screen during the festival`s 6 day run, and several of them are Canadian productions including Catherine Bruhier`sClean Teeth Wednesdays, a delightful 8-minute film that costars Allison Augustin, Ellen Dubin, Ace Hicks, Maya Jacinto, Kayla Di Venere and Amy Correia.
The Canadian feature, From Above is an enchanting love story about a young Native American woman’s search for her destiny and her widower husband’s attempts to reunite with her after her death. Based on a screenplay by James Bird, Chasing Shakespeare recounts the beginning, end and rebirth of a love affair between William and Venus in rural Arkansas. Directed by Norry Nevin, the 2013 film costars Danny Glover, Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinal, Chelsea Ricketts, Mike Wade and Clarence Gilyard.
In addition to the full slate of films, there are several key events within the festival. One of the highlights is a movie and discussion featuring a screening of the film Hard Time. The film is about Robert Hillary King, also known as Robert King Wilkerson, who spent 32 years in State Penitentiary in Louisiana for a crime he did not commit. While stories of this kind of injustice are almost commonplace in a broken America, what marks this punishment as unfathomably cruel was of those 32 years behind bars, King spent 29 of them in solitary confinement.
King and two other prisoners (Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace) formed the only Black Panther political cell in a U.S penitentiary and focused on prisoner rights. Their efforts to organize prisoners to defend themselves raised the ire of prison authorities and the three Black Panthers of Angola prison became known as the Angola Three. His two comrades have been in solitary for 38 years, also for crimes they did not commit.
King, pictured on the right, was released in February 2001. His autobiography, From the Bottom of the Heap: The Autobiography of a Black Panther was released in 2008 and won a PASS Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency in 2009. King is an international speaker who speaks at college campuses and community centers across the U.S. and has spoken before the Parliaments in the Netherlands, South Africa and Portugal. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, Hard Time is directed by Ron Harpelle and both Harpelle and Robert Hillary King will be in attendance following the screening at the Carlton Cinema on February 16.
Click here for a link to the Toronto Black Film Festival, which runs from February 11 to the 16, and other February film festivals.