From humble beginnings in 2017, the Halifax Black Film Festival is back this year for a three-day, twelve-film celebration of diversity, culture and black history.
Friday’s opening night gala is set to feature the film The Rape of Recy Taylor — a film produced by three-time Emmy and Peabody award-winner Laurens Grant.
If the name Recy Taylor sounds familiar, it could be because she was recently mentioned by Oprah Winfrey during her Golden Globes speech in January.
Grant said the nod from the former talk show queen has been instrumental in drumming up interest in the film — something she referred to as “the Oprah effect.”
“She knows how to really put such deep, serious issues into a lexicon and a language that everyone can understand and embrace and try to heal from,” said Grant.
WATCH: Halifax Black Film Festival opens with powerful documentary
“We’re very excited of course about the mention but also very grateful because it’s such a tragic story that Recy Taylor never got justice in her life. But we were able to make a documentary about her story: being assaulted and raped by gentlemen coming home from church.”
Fabienne Colas first founded the Montreal Black Film Festival 14 years ago after immigrating to Canada from her home country of Haiti.
She said as a young black actress, she quickly noticed there was a void in the kinds of films being featured at popular film festivals.
“I was left without a voice, without a platform, with no hope, and I was very frustrated,” she said.
“Out of that frustration I thought, ‘You know what? Montreal deserves another festival.”
Since then, the festival has expanded to both Toronto and Halifax and has been endorsed by some of Hollywood’s most recognizable names including Danny Glover, Spike Lee and Stedman Graham.
This year’s schedule spans over three days and includes films for all ages. Colas said it’s her hope the festival will continue to expand and grow while fostering an environment of inclusivity, diversity and togetherness.
“At the end of the day, we are in the same race: the human race. We just have different shades,” she said.
“This is a time to discover black history and black stories. But black history and black stories are part of the human story as well. I’m hoping we’ll have more white people, brown people, yellow people, black people coming to this festival and we can experience those films together.”
The closing film for this year is a movie called Black Cop by local filmmaker Corey Bowles.
To purchase tickets and view the full schedule of events, visit the Halifax Black Film Festival’s website.