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National Film Board of Canada at CIFF 2020. World premiere for Cheryl Foggo’s John Ware Reclaimed at the Calgary International Film Festival.


Shaun Robinson

Cheryl Foggo and Fred Whitfield in the image. Photo: Shaun Robinson for the NFB

August 20, 2020 – Vancouver – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

Alberta Spotlight

Award-winning Calgary-born filmmaker, author and playwright Cheryl Foggo’s NFB North West Studio feature documentary John Ware Reclaimed will have its world premiere in the Alberta Spotlight section at the Calgary International Film Festival, taking place September 24 to October 4.

John Ware Reclaimed follows her quest to re-examine the mythology surrounding John Ware, the Black cowboy who settled in Alberta, Canada, before the turn of the 20th century. Her research uncovers who this iconic figure might have been, and what his legacy means in terms of anti-Black racism, both past and present.

Featuring rodeo champion Fred Whitfield

Eight-time world champion rodeo star Fred Whitfield appears as the figure of legendary cowboy and rancher John Ware in the film. Foggo also interviews such key figures as distinguished author Lawrence Hill, researcher Bertrand Bickersteth and historian David Breen, filmed at key locations in Ware’s life.

John Ware Reclaimed features original songs composed by Foggo’s daughter Miranda Martini and Juno Award-winning western songwriter Corb Lund, and an original score composed by Alec Harrison, with popular Calgary musician Kris Demeanor among the film’s musical performers.

More about the film

Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/john-ware-reclaimed

As Cheryl Foggo endeavours to dig past the racist myths and mistellings surrounding Ware, she recalls her childhood in Calgary, her own experiences of racism, and her family’s history as part of the 1910 migration to western Canada to escape violence in the southern United States. She also evokes the suppressed history of a thriving Black presence in the Prairies: the pioneers who lived, worked, and raised families in the west. Foggo’s archival, genealogical, and archaeological search, and her creative reimagining of John Ware’s life, reveal who this iconic figure might have been, and what his legacy means.

John Ware Reclaimed is produced by Bonnie Thompson and David Christensen, and executive produced by David Christensen for the National Film Board of Canada’s North West Studio.

About the filmmaker

Cheryl Foggo is an award-winning author, playwright, and filmmaker whose work over the last 30 years has focused on the lives of Western Canadians of African descent. She recently completed her short film Kicking Up a Fuss: The Charles Daniels Story, about a little-known civil rights story from Calgary’s own past. This is her second film with the NFB, following her 2002 documentary The Journey of Lesra Martin. Foggo is a recipient of the Sondra Kelly Award from the Writers Guild of Canada, as well as the 2015 Alberta Literary Award for Drama from the Writers’ Guild of Alberta. A well-known author, she has been published in dozens of anthologies. Foggo’s books include the young adult novels One Thing That’s True and I Have Been in Danger, the children’s picture book Dear Baobab, and the recently released 30th-anniversary edition of Pourin’ Down Rain: A Black Woman Claims Her Place in the Canadian West.

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Associated Links

Calgary International Film Festival

French version here | Version française ici.

Media Relations

  • About the NFB

    Founded in 1939, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is a one-of-a-kind producer, co-producer and distributor of distinctive, engaging, relevant and innovative documentary and animated films. As a talent incubator, it is one of the world’s leading creative centres. The NFB has enabled Canadians to tell and hear each other’s stories for over eight decades, and its films are a reliable and accessible educational resource. The NFB is also recognized around the world for its expertise in preservation and conservation, and for its rich and vibrant collection of works, which form a pillar of Canada’s cultural heritage. To date, the NFB has produced more than 14,000 works, 6,500 of which can be streamed free of charge at nfb.ca. The NFB and its productions and co-productions have earned over 7,000 awards, including 11 Oscars and an Honorary Academy Award for overall excellence in cinema.