Black Film Fest takes steps to foster young filmmakers

The Montreal International Black Film Festival created a new program for its 10th anniversary: Being Black in Montreal. It's designed to foster new talent and eventually get more complex, less stereotypical stories into Quebec film and television. Jeanette Kelly talks to some of the people working for more diversity here.
Annick Maugile-Flavien, Caesey Shakes and Henri Pardo from Being Black in Montreal, a progam at the Montreal International Black Film Festival (Jeanette Kelly/CBC )

When American Spike Lee tells Montrealers “black people are not taking over Hollywood”, black Montreal actors and filmmakers know they have a long way to go before “taking over” sets in Quebec.

Lee was in Montreal this week for a Pioneer Award at The Montreal International Black Film Festival (MIBFF).

But there are attempts to get more black stories on our screens and more diversity on sets here in Quebec.

The MIBFF is mentoring young filmmakers in a new program set up for its 10th anniversary, Being Black in Montreal.

Five filmmakers spent the summer learning how to write a script, figuring out how to direct, how to edit a film and creating a short documentary.

One of them, Casey Shakes, believes the best way to create a more accurate understanding of black culture in Quebec is to create opportunities for people from the community to tell their own stories.

``When you see other people representing other cultures what tends to happen is that it is their representation of the other culture and that’s where we get cliches and stereotypes. But self-representation you can go into the details, the complexities which gives life and I think that’s very important to have a better understanding of the different cultures that are around us and especially in Montreal.”

SODEC, the Montreal Arts Council and the NFB have also created a year-long residence for filmmakers from cultural communities.  The deadline to apply is October 24, 2014.

I spoke to a variety of people from the black community about the issue of diversity for Daybreak. Here’s that story.

About the Author

Jeanette Kelly works as the arts reporter at CBC Montreal. She's also the host of Cinq à Six, Quebec's Saturday afternoon culture show on CBC Radio One.