The Toronto Black Film Festival is back for the 11th year of amplifying Black voices in cinema, with this year’s edition featuring 125 movies from 20 different countries.
Presented by TD Bank Group in collaboration with Global News, this year’s TBFF is celebrating the return of in-person programming while maintaining an online component, with a goal of inspiring the next generation of Black artists in film and beyond!
The 2023 edition of Canada’s largest celebration of Black History Month through film features a star-studded roster of talent that includes Letitia Wright, Josh O’Connor, Columbus Short, Keith David, Ledisi, Colin Kaepernick, Rickey Jackson, Don Lemmon, Ossie Davis, Karen Pittman, Corey Stoll, Cesária Évora and many more.
READ MORE: The 10th Annual Toronto Black Film Festival To Start With Keke Palmer, Common’s ‘Alice’
The Festival’s opening night will take place on Wednesday, Feb 15 at the Isabel Bader Theatre with the Ontario Premiere of Matt Waldeck’s “Lovely Jackson”, followed by a Q&A session with the director and subject Rickey Jackson. The documentary is exonerated prisoner Rickey Jackson’s daring first-hand account of the psychology of survival and spiritual fortitude required to withstand 39 years of wrongful incarceration for a murder he didn’t commit.
Among the many films to screen at this year’s TBBF are:
“1960”, directed by King Shaft and Michael Mutombo, starring Zandile Madliwa, Sanda Shandu
When the remains of an apartheid-era policeman are discovered 60 years after he went missing, a retired singer revisits her past to help with the investigation. But how much does she know, and what is she holding back?
“Aisha”, directed by Frank Berry, starring Letitia Wright, Josh O’Connor
Aisha (Letitia Wright, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”), a young Nigerian woman seeking asylum in Ireland, is floundering in a maze of social services and bureaucracy. As her situation becomes increasingly dire, Aisha struggles to maintain hope and dignity against the looming threat of deportation.
“Maia”, directed by Stephanie Okoll
In a world that continues to meld cultures and industries, Maia Wallace settles in Vancouver, one of Canada’s fine art Mecca’s as she pursues her singing career. In Maia, we join the alternative R&B singer in the studio as we delve deep into what makes Maia tick.
“Colorblind”, directed by Mostafa Keshvari, starring Chantel Riley, Trae Maridadi, Gary Chalk
Magdalene, a colourblind Black artist, and her son Monet move into a new neighbourhood; they are challenged to see the true colours of people. When their racist landlord, Walton, is forced to babysit Monet, he discovers a more colourful world through the child’s black and white perspective.
“Know Your Place”, directed by Zia Mohajerjasbi, starring Joseph Smith, Natnael Mebrahtu, Selamawit Gebresus
Robel Haile, an Eritrean-American boy of 15 from Seattle, WA, embarks on an errand to deliver a suitcase across town destined for a sick family member in his parent’s homeland. He enlists the help of his best friend Fahmi Tadesse, when an unexpected turn transmutes his simple task into an odyssey across Seattle; navigating obstacles to make his delivery on time, along with the challenges of familial responsibility, self identification, and dislocation amid the economic displacement of the only community he’s ever known as home.
“Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story”, directed by Denise Dowse, starring Ledisi, Columbus Short
“Remember Me” is a biopic on the life of Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, her rise and challenges in the music industry, her unbreakable bond with Dr. Martin Luther King and her dramatic impact on the Civil Rights Movement.
“Sheeps Clothing”, directed by Kyle McConaghy, starring Aaron Phifer, Nick Heyman
A violent attack leaves high school principal Mansa Harper with a traumatic brain injury. After finding refuge working for a Pastor, Mansa soon realizes the Pastor’s personal struggles are creeping into the sanctuary. When a member of the church winds up dead, Mansa is compelled to help the Pastor clean up the aftermath. This act of service takes Mansa through a dark pilgrimage as he tries to save the church and himself.
“What We Do Next”, directed by Stephen Belber, starring Corey Stoll, Karen Pittman, Michelle Veintimilla
When Elsa Mercado (Michelle Veintimilla) is released from prison after serving 16 years for killing her father, New York City Councilwoman Sandy James (Karen Pittman) and corporate attorney Paul Jenkins (Corey Stoll) are forced to grapple with their involvement in the original crime. “What We Do Next” is a timely emotional thriller sitting at the intersection of race, class and criminal justice.
READ MORE: Toronto Black Film Festival Kicks Off With Star-Studded Lineup Featuring Taraji P. Henson, Shaquille O’Neal And More
Created by the Fabienne Colas Foundation, the 2023 Toronto Black Film Festival begins on Wednesday, Feb. 15 and runs until Monday, Feb. 20. For a complete schedule of films and venues, and more information about the full program, all access passes and individual tickets, visit the TBFF website.