Kardeisha Provo is setting out to change the perception people have about her beloved community, North Preston.
The young filmmaker is part of the annual Halifax Black Film Festival with her short film North Preston: The Untold Story. She’s using her passion for film to bring the complex realities of the people living in North Preston to the eyes of the world.
“There’s so many things that are beautiful about the place that I come from,” Provo says. “I just want to always spread that and share that with the world and that’s just what I tried to do with this film.”
Provo is 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.
“It’s important now more than ever to have the Halifax Black Film Festival, especially after the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement,” says the president and founder of the Fabienne Colas Foundation, Fabienne Colas. “More than ever people want to help; they want to be part of conversation… They want to foster solutions, we want to foster togetherness, so this platform is more relevant than before.”
Provo said she got to choose whatever topic she wanted to for her film and “of course I chose my community, North Preston.”
“It means so much to me,” she says.
In just under 10 minutes, Provo uses her own friends and family to tell the story of growing up and living in North Preston, a rural community located in Halifax Regional Municipality with the highest concentration of African Canadians of any community in Canada. She used a drone to give watchers a bird’s-eye view of the neighbourhood, which traces its origins back to the 18th century.
Through narration and interviews, North Preston: The Untold Story explores how the community is negatively represented in the media and how that affects the lives of its residents.
“I just want people to be open-minded… I want them to allow us to share our stories and our perspectives,” Provo says. “We do have a lot of unique perspectives. There’s a lot of families in North Preston that have the same story, that have the same youth feeling the same way that I do about the community.
“I really just want people to be open-minded to that and allow space for us to tell our stories because we’re going to do that anyways.”
One of those youth featured in the film is Provo’s best friend, Quintez Downey. Downey was shot and killed in January. He makes a brief appearance in the film, standing next to Provo, both of them smiling toward the camera.
“That was my best friend and he really supported me through this whole entire documentary… and is in the film with me and was excited about it.”
Provo wants this experience to take her even higher in the film industry.
“Feature films, documentaries, whatever they got to give me I’m going out and getting it,” she said.
Moreover, her fan base is strong in her hometown.
“Everybody around me is so supportive, everybody in this community loves everything that I do and I’m so appreciative of that.”
The Halifax Black Film Festival opened Tuesday, Feb. 23 and runs online until Sunday, Feb. 28, featuring 75 films from 10 countries, panel discussions and a new special event series. For more information on the festival, visit halifaxblackfilm.com.