Black Panther 'more than just a movie' to hundreds of kids at Dartmouth screening
'We're not used to seeing people who look exactly like us,' says 17-year-old Anita Oldham
It started out with a simple idea to get a handful of African Nova Scotian youth tickets to a movie where the hero looked just like them.
In the end, more than 400 youth aged nine to 18 packed two theatres to watch Black Panther on Thursday night in Dartmouth.
It was their own personal showing of Marvel's first superhero flick to feature a predominately black cast.
The tickets to the movie at the Cineplex were paid for thanks to a fundraising campaign that raised thousands of dollars within days.
Fifteen-year-old Jrysse Campbell said the fundraising efforts meant some kids who wouldn't have been able to afford the ticket got the chance to see their role models on screen.
"There aren't a lot of movies that I watch that have black people in it," he said. "This movie is all about black people. It feels really good just to see something to look up to. No matter what, I can always do what I want to do."
Kylaijah Beals, 13, said she and her friend were surprised when they started looking up the actors in the film at school earlier in the day.
"I was actually shocked that there were only two white characters in the movie. You don't see a lot of movies with a big majority of black actors in just one movie," she said.
Anita Oldham and Suella Kane, who are both 17, said too often films portray black characters as villains — not heroes.
"We're not used to seeing people who look exactly like us.... They make it seem like the black people are always the bad guys," Oldham said.
Organizer Quentrel Provo said he hopes bringing such a large group together will help youth feel inspired.
He's the founder of Stop the Violence, a Nova Scotia group that works with youth, including those in the African Nova Scotian community.
"The hero is an African American. For them to see themselves reflected on the big screen like this could go a long way to changing their life," he said.
"It's more than just a movie."