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Jennifer Hodge de Silva

Jennifer Hodge de Silva, director,

B: January 28, 1951 in Montréal, Québec
D: May 5, 1989 in Montréal, Québec

Jennifer Hodge was born to Cullen Squire Hodge and Mairuth Vaughan Hodge Sarsfield. One of two children, she was highly influenced by the strong women around her. For example, her grandmother, Anne Packwood, was a teacher and community worker who received awards for her contribution to the Black community. Her mother’s career included broadcasting, diplomacy, and serving on the Board of Governors of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and Carleton University, Ottawa. Her mother received the Chevalier de l’ordre national du Québec award in 1985. Hodge left Montréal to complete her second year of high school in Europe where she attended the L’École d’humanité in Hasliberg-Goldern, Switzerland. After completing high school, Jennifer Hodge returned to Canada to attend university in Toronto and completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Fine Arts at Glendon College, York University in 1974. She added a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Television Arts at Ryerson Polytechnic Institute in 1979. She married producer Paul de Silva in 1982. They founded Jenfilms Inc., which, among other projects, was behind the award-winning Neighbourhoods series that covered the history and character of various communities in Canada. Al Waxman served as host-narrator on the episode about Toronto’s Kensington Market.

Jennifer Hodge de Silva’s career in film spanned more than a decade. She spent her apprenticeship years at the National Film Board in Montréal. There she learned all aspects of the craft, from producing, researching and interviewing, to directing and editing. During that time she also worked on some independently produced films. While in France to attend the Cannes Film Festival in 1989, she became ill and returned to Canada. She died of cancer on May 5, 1989, at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montréal, where she was born. Her work remains part of the discussion on Canadian and Black Canadian film. A biographical film, Jennifer Hodge: The Glory and the Pain (1992), covers her life and themes in her work as revealed in interviews with friends and relatives. Her films are often featured in Black History Month celebrations, and in reading lists of film courses. A commemorative film catalogue was produced by the National Film Board for Black History Month in 1992.

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