Books

Clement Virgo's film adaptation of David Chariandy's Canada Reads novel Brother to premiere at TIFF 2022

The Canadian film director wrote and directed the novel adaptation about two brothers growing up in the Toronto suburbs. Brother was championed on Canada Reads 2019 by Canadian actor Lisa Ray.
Canadian director Clement Virgo, left, is the director of a new film adaptation of David Chariandy's novel Brother, set to premiere at TIFF 2022. (Ben Gabbe, Penguin Random House Canada, CBC)

Director Clement Virgo's film adaptation of Canadian writer David Chariandy's novel Brother will make its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

TIFF 2022 will run for 11 days between Sept. 8-18.

Set in Scarborough, Ont., in the 1990s, Chariandy's award-winning 2017 novel is a coming-of-age story that follows Francis and Michael, two brothers of Trinidadian origin, as they come up against the prejudices and low expectations that confront them. A mystery unfolds when escalating tensions set off a series of events which changes the course of the brothers' lives forever.

Virgo's film stars Canadian actor Lamar Johnson and U.K. actor Aaron Pierre, as well as Kiana Madeira and Marsha Stephanie Blake. It was produced by Virgo, Damon D'Oliveira, Aeschylus Poulos and Sonya Di Rienzo and will be distributed in Canada by Elevation Pictures.

An image from the film adaptation of the novel Brother by David Chariandy. (Guy Godfree/Elevation Pictures)

Brother was championed on Canada Reads 2019 by Canadian actor, author and advocate Lisa Ray.

The novel won the 2017 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the 2018 Toronto Book Award and the 2018 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. It was also longlisted for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

"I wanted to capture what Scarborough was really like for a child in the early 1990s, particularly a child with a Black mother and a South Asian father growing up at that particular time," Chariandy told CBC Books in 2017.

"These stories are often overlooked and ignored," he added. "I wanted to capture this narrative, one of resilience, creativity, tenderness and love."

Born in Scarborough and now based in Vancouver, Chariandy is the author of three books, including Brother, the award-winning 2007 novel Soucouyant and the 2018 nonfiction work I've Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to My Daughter. He is currently a professor in the department of English at Simon Fraser University, teaching literature and creative writing.

Virgo, one of Canada's leading film directors, is known for his acclaimed feature films — including Rude, Poor Boy's Game and Love Come Down — and his TV directing credits include The Wire, BillionsAmerican CrimeEmpire, and Greenleaf, on which he served as director and executive producer with Oprah Winfrey.

In 2015 he directed, co-wrote, and executive produced the miniseries adaptation of Lawrence Hill's award-winning novel The Book of Negroes (which won Canada Reads in 2009), which debuted to record-breaking numbers on the CBC and BET in the U.S. and was nominated for two U.S. Critics Choice Television Awards and shortlisted for a Peabody Award.

"I feel a deeply personal connection to David Chariandy's novel, Brother, and the characters who populate that world," Virgo said in a news release in 2021.

His production company, Conquering Lion Pictures, acquired the film rights to Brother in 2018 along with co-producers Hawkeye Pictures, with Virgo writing and directing the adaptation.

WATCH | Canada Reads 2009: Author David Chariandy discusses his novel Brother:

Brother trailer

4 years ago
Duration 0:48
Canada Reads trailer for Brother by David Chariandy.

Clarifications

  • This post has been updated to reflect the four producers on the film project.
    Jul 07, 2022 1:16 PM ET

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