Lily Nottage is preparing to make her filmmaking debut during this month’s Halifax Black Film Festival.
The graphic designer, photographer and digital artist can now add filmmaker to her list of accomplishments when her short film Farrin premieres during the online festival beginning Feb. 23.
Nottage, who is originally from Nassau, Bahamas, studied at Acadia University and while living in Nova Scotia, visited restaurants for a potential documentary on food.
“I initially wanted to do a food documentary because I’m a foodie myself,” Nottage says. “I remember going to Christine’s jerk joint and feeling right at home like I was in the Caribbean.”
Christine’s jerk joint is Brawta Jamaican Jerk Joint on Grafton Street and Farrin centres on the business’s owner, Christine Allen, who immigrated to Halifax from Jamaica.
“When I thought about what restaurants I wanted to feature, I especially wanted to feature a woman and someone of colour,” Nottage says. “Especially that she’s a Caribbean woman as well, that just really spoke to me and I can really relate to her story.”
‘Farrin’ is Jamaican Patois for ‘foreign.’ Nottage’s film details Allen’s journey to Nova Scotia to realize her childhood dream of owning her own restaurant.
Nottage says it’s more than a film about food, it’s a film about Allen and her daughters making a home and a business for themselves.
“Her resilience, all the ups and downs… It’s about the success of three Black females,” she explains.
Nottage was one of five Halifax filmmakers selected to be part of the mentorship program Being Black in Canada. Created under the Fabienne Colas Foundation’s Youth and Diversity Program, Being Black in Canada aims to train, mentor and empower the next generation of Black filmmakers. The free program, presented by Netflix, is the largest mentorship program of its kind in Canada.
“Black artists are the most marginalized group in the artistic industry,” says president and founder of the Fabienne Colas Foundation Fabienne Colas. “We need strong platforms like the ones from the Halifax Black Film Festival to keep the movement going. By giving that platform, that voice to more Black artists; this is important.”
The Halifax Black Film Festival aims to provide an opportunity for filmmakers to shine the spotlight on authentic stories that reflect the realities of Black experiences. This year’s festival will feature 75 films from 10 different countries and include a new special events series and panel discussions available online due to COVID-19 restrictions. The festival opens Tuesday, Feb. 23 entirely online and closes Sunday, Feb. 28.
Nottage admits that when she first heard about Being Black in Canada, she was hesitant to apply for it, fearing she wouldn’t be accepted into the program. Now that Farrin is about to make its premiere at this year’s Halifax Black Film Festival, she has some words of advice for other young Black filmmakers who may be interested in using film to express themselves.
“I would say just go for it. No matter what it is, what you want to do,” Nottage says. “If there’s an opportunity that presents itself, take it and go run with it. Even if there isn’t an opportunity, make an opportunity for yourself.”
The Halifax Black Film Festival is presented by TD Bank Group in collaboration with Global News. For more information on the festival, visit halifaxblackfilm.com.