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Black History Month at VIFF Centre

Feb 1 – 28

We hope you’ll agree, February is as good a time as any to celebrate Black film, Black film artists, Black thinkers and activists, and to highlight the legacy of slavery, white supremacy, colonization and capitalism that underpins our unjust society.

Our BHM programming this year includes two series: Icons and Dispatches.

Icons spotlights the accomplishments of American movie stars like Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Samuel L Jackson, Angela Bassett, Chadwick Boseman and others, emulating and transcending the path beaten by Sidney Poitier 60 years ago.

Dispatches turns from fantasy to reality, with a focus on documentaries, ideas, and social justice, including work by and about James Baldwin, Camille Billops, and two exceptional recent Canadian films, Dear Jackie and Our Dance of Revolution.

In addition, we’re starting the month with week-long engagements for two of the most acclaimed movies of last year. Alice Diop’s Saint Omer, from France, is a profoundly rich and fascinating response to the real life trial of an African immigrant for filicide (a trial Diop attended). And Margaret Brown’s award-winning documentary Descendant is a deep dive into the case of the last known slave ship transporting kidnapped Africans to the USA, and what it signifies for the descendants of the slaves, and the slave-runners too.

In these films, and others, we are reminded of how cinema can offer insight as well as spectacle, extend empathy and inspire change.

Get a 3-Ticket Pack for $33*

VIFF+ Member Pricing: $27*

BUY TICKET PACK

 

*Ticket pack only valid for Icons and Dispatches films

Icons

Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones, Richard Pryor, Prince, Jamie Foxx, Samuel L Jackson, Kerry Washington, Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman…

This month we celebrate these Icons of American Cinema, brilliant actors all, men and women who have picked up the torch blazed by Sidney Poitier in the 1950s and 60s to become role models for subsequent generations, dispelling stereotypes, transcending reverse-stereotypes, conferring compassion and empathy, as all great actors do.

Get a 3-Ticket Pack for $33*

VIFF+ Member Pricing: $27*

BUY TICKET PACK

*Ticket pack only valid for Icons and Dispatches films

Malcolm X

In an indelible role, Denzel Washington give us a layered, compassionate, conflicted man who finds the strength in Islam to transcend his demons and confront the inequity and racism in America head-on. Spike Lee gives this biopic epic treatment.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre

In the Heat of the Night

Sidney Poitier in an indelible role a Philadelphia police detective Virgil Tibbs, pulled in as a murder suspect when changing trains in Mississippi. He allies with bigoted local sheriff (Rod Steiger) to solve the case.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre

The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings

This boisterous comedy about a breakaway barnstorming Black baseball team in the 1930s should be better known. It's an entertaining gloss on one enterprising ball player's resourceful response to segregated leagues, with Star Wars' Billy Dee Williams.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre

Purple Rain

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate this thing called Prince. Purple Rain is everything you could want from a rock film, and more - it's sexy, sassy, slick and it captures the young Prince in the raw.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
Under the Cherry Moon (35mm)
Under the Cherry Moon film image

Under the Cherry Moon (35mm)

Prince is Christopher Tracy, a gigolo on the French Riviera, determined to seduce $50 million heiress Kristin Scott Thomas (!). The pop star's directorial debut is a quirky, fun throwback to old school Hollywood glamour, with knobs on.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre

Django Unchained

In his best role, Jamie Foxx is the title character, a slave who becomes allied with a German dentist who hires him to shoot white folks. Tarantino's potent blend of blaxploitation and spaghetti western is provocative, funny and full of fire.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre

Widows

Viola Davis is immense in Steve McQueen's gripping crime story. When her husband dies in a shootout with Chicago PD, Veronica inherits his $2 million debt to a local mobster, and a notebook with plans to rip-off the vault of a local politico.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre

Black Panther

The most important movie Marvel has made to date, this Black blockbuster is a triumph for Creed director Ryan Coogler and star Chadwick Boseman. After the death of his father, T'Challa returns to the African nation of Wakanda to take his place as king.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre

Dispatches

Our BHM Dispatches series presents critical non-fiction work by and about Black artists, activists and thinkers, touching on race, gender, equity and identity, “family” and society.

 

 

Learn More About Our Dispatches Series

Get a 3-Ticket Pack for $33*

VIFF+ Member Pricing: $27*

BUY TICKET PACK

*Ticket pack only valid for Icons and Dispatches films

Dear Jackie (Free Screening)

Henri Pardo's film is a cinematic letter to Jackie Robinson, the first African American player in Major League Baseball and a civil rights activist who broke the colour barrier when he joined the minor-league Montreal Royals in 1946. For a short time, the impossible seemed possible in a segregated North America.

VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre
James Baldwin Abroad: Istanbul - Paris - London
James Baldwin Abroad film image

James Baldwin Abroad: Istanbul - Paris - London

These three short docs, from 1968 - 1973, offer sharp, piercing glimpses of Baldwin in private and public, sometimes in repose and relaxed but more often holding forth, embroiled in the thorny discourse of racial politics, identity and self expression.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre

"This Time It's Personal" Films by Camille Billops & James Hatch (Programme 1)

Trailblazing artist and polymath Camille Billops and her partner James Hatch were courageous independent filmmakers who chronicled the ups and downs of their personal lives and family histories, and found in them the temperature of their times.

VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre

"This Time It's Personal" Films by Camille Billops & James Hatch (Programme 2)

The second programme in our short selection of independent films by Camille Bishops and James Hatch includes what is probably their masterpiece, Finding Christa, a deeply personal film about Camille's relationship with the daughter she gave up for adoption as a child.

VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre

Our Dance of Revolution

Award-winning documentary on the history of Black queer activism in Toronto, on communities that have faced every adversity from invisibility to police brutality.

VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre

New Releases

Descendant

Brown's moving film zeroes in on the descendants of the 110 slaves brought in on the last known slave ship to transport kidnapped Africans to America as human cargo, an illegal shipment undertaken as a bet by a local landowner, Timothy Meaher.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre

Saint Omer

Alice Diop’s superb film, based on a notorious case of infanticide from a few years ago, subtly, almost surreptitiously evokes complex ideas and emotions around motherhood, gender, and marginalized communities.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre

Chien Blanc

Living in LA in 1968, French novelist Romain Gary adopts a stray Alsation, but to his horror discovers it has been trained to attack Blacks. His wife, the actress Jean Seberg argues it must be put down, but Gary insists it can be retrained...

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre