Black History Month: Dispatches
Feb 1 – 28
Image: James Baldwin Abroad, at VIFF Centre
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.
The series includes a free screening of Dear Jackie (Feb 9), a letter to Jackie Robinson, the first African American player accepted in Major League Baseball, who broke the colour-barrier when he signed for the Montreal Royals in 1946.
The centrepiece of the series is James Baldwin Abroad: Istanbul – Paris – London (Feb 17-19), three fascinating short portraits of the firebrand novelist and essayist during his self-imposed exile from the US, 1968-1973.
This Time It’s Personal: Films by Camille Billops & James Hatch (Feb 26-27) comprises four pieces (split across two programmes) by the groundbreaking independent partnership, idiosyncratic films excavating family history with defiance and hope, including Suzanne, Suzanne and Finding Christa.
And concluding the series, Our Dance of Revolution (Feb 27) is an inspiring, celebratory history of Black queer activism in Toronto from the 1980s to the present day.
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.
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.
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.
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.