Montreal International Black Film Festival to honour jazz great Oliver Jones

Richard Burnett

Black filmmakers from around the world converge on Montréal each autumn to attend the popular trailblazing Montréal International Black Film Festival, the biggest Black film festival in Canada, which presents its 13th edition from September 27 to October 1.

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Over the years the MIBFF has drawn such stars as Harry Belafonte, Spike Lee and Danny Glover. The 2017 edition will screen 66 films from 25 countries.

“This is a unique opportunity for Black audiences and others to see our stories on the big screen,” says MIBFF founder and general manager Fabienne Colas. “We have guests and programs that otherwise would not have made it here. This is why we are special and contribute, diversify and enrich the cultural scene in Montréal.”

This edition’s selected films, special events, round-tables and guests of honour all underscore this year’s theme “Speak up / Exprime-toi.”

South African hero Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu

The MIBFF opening film is Kalushi: The Story of Solomon Mahlangu, the true story of the 19-year-old freedom fighter from the streets of Mamelodi, a ghetto township outside Pretoria, who – following the 1976 Soweto uprisings – was accused of murder and terrorism in 1977, and executed by hanging in 1979. Director Mandla Dube’s film was an Official Selection of the Seattle International Film Festival and Durban International Film Festival, and will screen at Montréal’s historic Imperial Theatre on September 27.

The MIBFF Black Market

Running from September 28 to October 1, the MIBFF Black Market returns with a master class and workshop where Canadian and international filmmakers will share their knowledge and experiences of film creation, financing, production, distribution and the festival circuit. A panel featuring public grant organizations will also be part of this series of four workshops to help guide aspiring filmmakers obtain funding in the film industry.

Kafou and Haiti’s New Generation of Filmmakers

The Haitian film industry has been described as an unsubsidized “guerrilla” propelled by creativity, love, passion and sheer determination. Following the September 30 screening of the successful 2017 Haitian film Kafou produced by Bruno Mourral, there will be a public discussion on the current challenges of Haitian cinema and the new generation of Haitian filmmakers.

Tribute to Oliver Jones

The MIBFF will screen filmmaker Rosey Ugo Edeh’s 2017 documentary Oliver Jones: Mind Hands Heart at a special tribute on September 30.

Born in 1934 and raised in Montreal’s famed Little Burgundy neighbourhood, legendary jazz pianist Oliver Jones was a child prodigy who played at Montréal’s Café St-Michel in 1943 at the age of nine, at the height of Montreal’s Sin City golden era.

“Nightclubs were the kind of world that my folks expected, and they weren’t fussy about me being in that world,” Mr. Jones told me in 2007. “It was across the street from Rockhead’s Paradise, which was the first black-owned club in all of Canada. The St-Michel was a little rougher… I saw a lot of what I wasn’t supposed to see – girly girls and strippers. But the people there, there was always someone looking out for me.”

Mr. Jones has since recorded over 20 albums and headlined concerts around the world. He will be honoured at the special MIBFF screening.

For the full MIBBF program and tickets, visit

Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett, blogger

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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