Sunday, 16 August 2009

Toronto After Dark Film Festival: Filmmakers Navigate Racism in France

The French filmmakers of BLACK were surprised to discover how racist their country is when they tried to get funding for their film, which has a predominantly Black cast. They shared their new-found knowledge about their country's film industry with us last night at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TAD) screening.

Unfortunately, I was not as surprised as the filmmakers or the TAD audience, having heard the same story from director, François Dupeyron at the TIFF '08 screening of his film, Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera/With A Little Help From Myself (Sept. 6/09 post). Like, Dupeyron, director, Pierre Laffargue and producer, Lauranne Bourrachot, had to contend with blatant racist comments that they were making a film for black people and that whites would not be interested. Parisian theatre owners feared masses of black people would attend screenings of Black and cause riots at their cinemas.

Laffargue did get his funding, and I'm glad he did because BLACK is a sensational African action/fantasy romp starring MC jean Gab'1 as Black (Nico in District 13) and Carole Karemera as Pamela (Sometimes in April). (Coincidentally, the film also features Mata Gabin from Aide-toi in the role of Fatoumata.) I love the fact that the filmmakers deliberately sought an actress that was taller than their hero, who could drag him around in handcuffs and shoot a gun at the same time (Karema took shooting lessons). Pamela is a no-nonsense heroine who is well aware of Black's player personality. If you assume she will be the type of woman who will fall quickly and easily into the hero's arms in typical movie fashion "tu rêves" (as Pamela tell Black in one scene).

Lucky for Toronto audiences the film will be released by Evokative Films in the next few weeks at the Yonge/Dundas AMC. Check reality at the door and enter the world of the Lion and the Panther and the Serpent and the Witch.

BLACK's official website: English content.
Toronto After Dark website:
TAD runs until August 21st at the Bloor Cinema. Tickets are $12 per screening.
Photo Credit: photo of Pierre and Lauranne by donna g; BLACK poster courtesy of Evokative Films


Anonymous said...

While I agree that the coversation about the release , in France, for BLACK was compelling, I found the movie a bore. The film takes way too long to set up its premiss so by the time they get to the heist I could have cared less. There was one moment involving the lead bad guy and a jeep that almost saved the film for me but it was too little too late. I would give this film 5 yawns and a plea to find a competent editor.

donna g said...

Thanks for sharing your opinion of the film. I agree the pacing could have been a bit faster, but the majority of the audience didn't seem to mind the film's flaws, judging from their enthusiastic response to the film. I also overheard several conversations in line days after the screening where people were talking about how much they loved the film.

Varying opinions are always welcome, so I hope others will post their comments as well.

A Sweet Liar: Theatre Francais de Toronto's Le Menteur/The Liar

The tag line is  "Don't believe a word he says" , but you can believe me, Le Menteur/The Liar is a fun way to spend a night at...