NFB & Black History Month
by Staff Editors
(February 1, 2022 – Toronto, ON) The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is offering several online activities to celebrate Black History Month. With a focus this year on “Black Health and Wellness,” the NFB has a series of activities starting today with the NFB.ca premiere of a powerful new feature documentary and will include filmmakers’ panel discussions, a new playlist and a new study guide.
For the NFB, Black History Month is an important time to celebrate Black filmmakers and honour the contributions that Black people have made and continue to make in all areas of Canadian society, from fighting for social justice to championing representation in film and television—to the power and beauty of Black artistic expression. Our activities during this annual commemoration are part of our commitment to amplify the rich culture, experiences and perspectives of Black communities across Canada through stories that enrich our collective understanding as Canadians.
First up is Michèle Stephenson’s award-winning Hispaniola Productions/NFB co-production Stateless premieres free on NFB.ca starting February 1.
In 1937, tens of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were exterminated by the Dominican army, based on anti-Black hatred fomented by the Dominican government. Fast-forward to 2013, when the Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court stripped the citizenship of anyone with Haitian parents, retroactive to 1929. The ruling rendered more than 200,000 people stateless, without nationality, identity or a homeland. Through the grassroots campaign of electoral hopeful Rosa Iris, acclaimed Haitian-Quebec filmmaker Michèle Stephenson reveals the depths of racial hatred and institutionalized oppression that divide Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Nominated for a 2021 Canadian Screen Award for Best Feature Documentary, Stateless won a Best Feature Documentary Award at the 2020 BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia and was given a Special Jury Prize – Canadian Feature at the 2020 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto and a
Best Feature Film Audience Award at the 2020 Boston Latino International Film Festival.
But that is just the beginning. NFB.ca will be featuring a playlist of 26 new and classic titles by Black filmmakers across Canada that will include distinguished documentary and animated films. Titled “Focus on Black Filmmakers,” the playlist celebrates Black Canadian cinema, showcasing an extensive selection of stories told from Black perspectives.
From pioneering works by Black Canadian women filmmakers like Sylvia Hamilton and Claire Prieto’s Black Mother Black Daughter (1989) to Martine Chartrand’s award-winning animated voyage through Black history and culture in Black Soul (2000), from Sudz Sutherland and Jennifer Holness’s exploration of the hidden Black history in Canada in Speakers for the Dead (2000) to Charles Officer’s critically acclaimed Unarmed Verses (2016), this playlist offers an amazing look at Black storytelling and the diverse experiences of Black Canadians.
NFB Education is launching a new study guide for its online learning portal, CAMPUS, showcasing the history and experiences of Black, African and Caribbean Canadians. Exploring Black Communities in Canada through Film uses curated NFB films to explore anti-Black racism, Black Canadian activism, intersectionality, community, resistance and activism, and filmmaking as a means of documenting Black Canadian history.
The guide was written by Natasha Henry, an educator, historian and curriculum consultant who specializes in developing learning materials about the African diasporic experience, and produced for the NFB by Anne Koizumi.
The NFB is also offering Filmmakers’ panel discussions, which will focus on “Black Health and Wellness.” Black filmmakers will talk around topics like the challenges of creating a film as a Black filmmaker and caring for oneself and one’s crew members and film subjects throughout the life of a production. The virtual events will be livestreamed on the NFB’s YouTube channel. Anyone can watch and registration is not required.
French session: February 3, noon to 1 p.m. EST:
Hosted by Carla Beauvais, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, co-founder/CEO at Gala Dynastie, this discussion will feature:
Gentille M. Assih, Into the Light
Valérie Bah, Sòl
Will Prosper, Kenbe la: Until We Win
Michèle Stephenson, Stateless
Nadine Valcin, Urban Tomorrows
English session: February 4, noon to 1 p.m. EST:
Hosted by renowned filmmaker and former NFB producer Selwyn Jacob, this discussion will feature:
Ho Che Anderson, The Big Reset – Governance
Ajahnis Charley, I Am Gay
Tyler Simmonds, More Than Our Labels
Michèle Stephenson, Stateless