Black Excellence on Screen
TIFF Bell Lightbox
From Dorothy Dandridge to Queen Latifah, Sidney Poitier to Denzel Washington, throughout time Black actors have forged inspirational careers in an industry that was not designed to help them prosper. Whether the big screen offered hostility, ignorance, or empowerment in its depiction of Black subjects, film history has presented a vast spectrum of Black representation. From the casual racism of Thomas Edison’s Watermelon Eating Contest in 1896 to the surprise and triumph of Barry Jenkins’ Academy Award win for Moonlight in 2017, for better or worse, Black people have been situated at the center of cinema.
Exploring ideas of erasure, Black stardom, radicalization, and the Black experience throughout time, TIFF Cinematheque is proud to present Ashley Clark’s groundbreaking Black Star series in collaboration with the British Film Institute. TIFF’s edition of the series will highlight the role Black talent has played in the realm of cinema with the addition of a specially curated selection of films focused on the roots of Black cinema in Canada.
The Black Star lineup consists of a mix of hard-hitting documentary and narrative films, groundbreaking local Canadian work, and renowned special guests bringing audiences together for a transformative, educational, and enlightening experience. Highlights include Sidney Poitier’s searing performance in In the Heat of the Night (1967); an Emmy-winning documentary exploration of Black stereotypes and anti-Black prejudice in Ethnic Notions(1986); Malcolm X (1992), based on the iconic activist and orator’s autobiography; the 2003 TIFF Best Canadian First Feature winner and Sudz Sutherland’s debut feature Love, Sex and Eating the Bones (2003); and the comedy classic Coming to America (1988) starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, with an introduction by Toronto’s own Kardinal Offishall.