Halifax Black Film Festival expands to include 17 films, youth mentorship program

When the Halifax Black Film Festival held its first festival, it featured one single film and was held on one night.

Three years later, the three-day event will now include 13 films, four youth documentaries and multiple public panel discussions.

“This is a festival for everybody, anybody that loves great films because that’s exactly what we’re bringing to them, and lots of conversation and togetherness in the beautiful city of Halifax,” said festival founder Fabienne Colas.

The festival, which is presented in collaboration with Global News, will open March 1 with South African film Beyond The River at Cineplex Park Lane.

It closes March 3 with The Color of Medicine, a documentary about the medical profession during the time of segregation in the United States.

The film won best documentary at the Montreal Black Film Festival, which Colas also organizes.

Colas says the addition of a mentorship program for young black filmmakers is what she’s most proud of this year because it will help the next generation of filmmakers.

The youth will receive training and access to professional equipment and editing.

“We help four young black filmmakers to create their first documentary shorts and then we’re going to be screening that Sunday,” she said.

In addition, public panel discussions — on topics ranging from diversity on screen to diversity in the workplace — will be held at the Halifax Central Library.

“The best thing to do is to dive into the website halifaxblackfilm.com and discover the power of amazing film making, the power of great films that otherwise wouldn’t have got to Halifax because most of them are premieres,” Colas said.

“So this is why this festival is necessary and important because it brings you films that are otherwise not accessible to audiences here.”

It’s been a busy year for Colas, who was named among Canada’s Top 40 under 40 in 2018. The actress, entrepreneur and filmmaker launched the Black film festivals in Montreal, Toronto and Montreal.

“I think it’s inspiring because people that look like me don’t usually get this kind of recognition. I hope it’s an inspiration for women of colour as well.”

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