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A still from Dope is Death by Mia Donovan. Photo courtesy Ottawa Black Film Festival.

The First Ottawa Black Film Festival #OBFF21

By Shireen Agharazi-Dormani on March 24, 2021

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The Ottawa Black Film Festival says it is “dedicated to giving unique voices in cinema the opportunity to present audiences with new ways of looking at the world. OBFF’s ambition is to encourage the development of the independent film industry and to promote more films on the reality of Black people from around the Globe.”

Founded by the Fabienne Colas Foundation and supported by Canadian Heritage, the first Ottawa Black Film Festival just announced its official online program and events lineup, which runs from March 25 to March 28, and includes 30 films and a variety of panels.

The Festival will open on March 25 at 7pm ET with Ignacio Márquez’s The Special. Other highlights include Sonia Lowman’s Black Boys, produced by NFL New Orleans Saints’ safety Malcolm Jenkins, Cheryl Foggo’s John Ware Reclaimed, and Michele Stephenson’s Stateless. The Festival will close with Mia Donovan’s Dope is Death. All the films will become accessible online as of 10pm ET.


OBFF will also feature the Fabienne Colas Foundation’s Being Black in Canada, a series of short films from the 2020 cohort. This series supported 20 Black Canadian filmmakers who received professional coaching for each stage of the audio-visual production process, then made a short documentary film with the guidance of industry professionals.

The industry series OBFF Black Market will offer educational panel discussions with industry professionals. Some of the conversations include The Show Must Go On!, Breaking the Silence, and Getting to Know the 2020 Filmmakers. For bilingual attendees, there will also be discussions in French, including Black Wealth Matters and Meet the 2019 Francophone Filmmakers. Organizers say these spaces are dedicated to sharing experiences on the crucial filmmaking and social issues of today.

“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! It’s the necessary platform for our local Black artists who, otherwise, would remain invisible,” says Fabienne Colas, President and Founder of the Black Film Festivals in Montreal, Toronto, Halifax, and Ottawa. “Our focus is to go beyond awareness with concrete actions to foster the inclusion of diversity off and on camera. 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.”


Visit ottawablackfilm.com for the complete program and schedule. This first online edition of the Ottawa Black Film Festival will take place from March 25 to 27, 2021, starting at 7pm ET. An All-Access Pass costs $29 and gives admission to all films.

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