In celebration of Black History Month, the third annual Afro Prairie Film Festival returns to Winnipeg Feb. 19 to 23.
The festival supports black representation in film as well as black participation behind the scenes of the film industry. Jointly presented by Black Space Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Film Group, festival director Alexa Joy is looking forward to another great festival of representation.
“We provide a platform for emerging and established black Canadian filmmakers,” she said.
The festival is full of the accomplishments of black Canadian filmmakers, screening Phillip Pike’s Our Dance of Revolution, Bisong Taiwo’s Time Sleeper as well as Winston Washington Moxam’s Barbara James.
Alongside the Canadian-made films, the festival is also featuring films from black filmmakers around the world, as well as cinematic hits from this past year — “films that came and left Winnipeg so quickly,” as Joy puts it.
Joy believes this year’s programming team made certain the film selection was both broad and diverse.
Films range from French, German and Kenyan cinema to the Golden Globe- and Oscar-nominated film Harriet and award-winning Queen & Slim.
However, the film festival isn’t just about new films.
There is an array of older films being screened, some in tribute to the work of late actors.
“Throwback would be a good [festival] theme,” Joy said. “We’re doing a couple films that [feature] African American actors and filmmakers who passed on […] The original Dolemite because Dolemite [is my Name] is streaming on Netflix, so we’re throwing it back.”
There are also networking and acting workshops that occur during the festival for those who wish to get involved.
The Platform Gallery is hosting the Networking Luncheon for Womxn in Film Feb. 22 and an acting masterclass hosted by Tonya Williams at the Winnipeg Film Group’s Black Lodge Studio Feb. 23.
What could also be considered the highlight of the festival is the new black Canadian short films competition, where established and emerging black Canadian directors and screenwriters get to showcase their short films.
“The last day we screen our new black Canadian short films,” Joy said. “We give an award at the end of the festival.”
“It’s Best Black Canadian Shorts. We named it in honour of Winston Washington Moxam who was a pioneer filmmaker in Manitoba, a black filmmaker, who passed away in 2011. He used to work at the Winnipeg Film Group. All of the work he did — the films he did — were very politically conscious and engaging. And he obviously [died] before his time and we named that in his memory.”
The films up for the Winston W. Moxam Award for Best Black Canadian Short will be screening Feb. 23 at Cinematheque.
“We have about seven competing films [this year],” Joy said.
“Each year they just keep getting better and better, so we’re really excited to announce the winner at the end of the festival.”
For more information about the Afro Prairie Film Festival visit blackspacewpg.ca. For showtimes at Cinematheque visit winnipegfilmgroup.com.