First Ottawa Black Film Festival launches March 25th

The past year has been one of unprecedented shifts in the fabric of the world. In order to understand this change, people often turn to stories and narrative to explain and expand on how such change affects life.

Black creators and filmmakers in Ottawa play a major part in the creation of these narratives to explain their vital perspectives on the world around us. This has not changed in the last year—it has, in fact, become ever more prevalent. Providing a platform for their stories to be seen and heard is more important than ever before.

The 1st Ottawa Black Film Festival (OBFF21), founded by the Fabienne Colas Foundation (FCF) and supported by the Canadian Heritage fund, is thrilled to announce its official online program and events lineup. The festival can be found under the #OBFF21 hashtag and is running March 25 – 28, 2021.

“We feel privileged to be able to bring this great event to our Nation’s capital, the third largest Black community in Canada, at such an important time in our history. OBFF is more than a film festival. It’s a movement!” Said Fabienne Colas, President and Founder of the Black Film Festivals in Montreal, Toronto, Halifax & Ottawa. “It’s the necessary platform for our local Black artists who, otherwise, would remain invisible,”

Showcasing 30 films and various panels, OBFF21 promises to inspire through strong, diverse, and bold programming. The festival will be available entirely online across Canada and around the world. The inaugural online edition highlights the tales and events that have challenged conventions, left a distinctive mark on our times, and changed how we see the world.

The Festival will open on Thursday, March 25 at 7pm EST with Ignacio Márquez’s The Special. Then, after 10pm EST all the films will be accessible online. The Festival will close with Mia Donovan’s Dope Is Death. This year’s highlights include Sonia Lowman’s Black Boys, produced by NFL New Orleans Saints’ safety Malcolm Jenkins, Cheryl Foggo’s John Ware Reclaimed, Michele Stephenson’s Stateless, and the FCF's Being Black in Canada short film series.

The Fabienne Colas Foundation's short film series Being Black In Canada is a collection of 20 Canadian short films from young Black filmmakers (18-30 years old) in Montreal, Toronto and Halifax. The filmmakers received professional coaching for each stage of the audiovisual production process then made an 8-10 minute documentary film under the tutelage of industry professionals. The FCF’s Being Black in Canada is a unique project that empowers inspiring emerging artists from culturally diverse backgrounds.

The FCF is Canada’s largest Black cultural organization. Along with other dedicated work in the arts and culture sector, it has founded ten festivals that focus on diversity in art—including the Ottawa Black Film Festival. OBFF aims to amplify more Black voices and showcase the most relevant Black films from Ottawa, Canada, and abroad while creating a space to debate major cultural, social, and socio-economic issues. Its dedication to creating space for these conversations involves showing films and also building up the skills and access to the industry of new creators.

The OBFF Black Market is part of this drive to encourage, inspire, and empower new creators. The Black Market is a panel series where renowned industry professionals share their real-life experience with today’s critical filmmaking and social issues. The panels will present an exciting blend of cutting-edge thinking and riveting panel discussion.

According to Colas, the goal of the Festival is not simply a platform for Black creators: it is the connection of diverse stories with all audiences, celebrating diversity, and creating a cultural appetite for diverse content.

“Our focus is to go beyond awareness with concrete actions to foster the inclusion of diversity off and on camera.” He said. “In connecting authentic Black stories with viewers of all colours and ethnic origins, we recognize the differences that make us unique and we celebrate the shared values that bring us together.”

The OBFF21 All Access Pass is available for only $29 and gives access to all films. Passes can be purchased on the Festival’s website.