January 25, 2024 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada
Black History Month activities organized by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) will have special significance this year, as the NFB pays tribute to acclaimed filmmaker Charles Officer, who died on December 1, 2023.
The NFB will screen the original version of Officer’s 2010 film Mighty Jerome, the story of the rise, fall and redemption of Harry Jerome, Canada’s most record-setting track and field star. This feature doc is now available online free of charge at nfb.ca for the first time.
There’s also a special event in Montreal: a free in-person screening of Mighty Jerome at the Alanis Obomsawin Theatre, taking place February 7 at 7 p.m.
And NFB film curators will offer two special Black History Month retrospectives on the NFB Blog:
• In “Charles Officer: Poet of the Screen,” Marc St-Pierre takes a deep dive into Charles Officer’s life and career.
• In “Celebrating BHM with a Look Back at Three Pioneering Filmmakers,” Camilo Martin-Florez reviews the work of Roger McTair, Claire Prieto and Jennifer Hodge de Silva, and introduces viewers to the classic docudrama Fields of Endless Day—just added to nfb.ca—which follows Black history in Canada over more than three centuries.
Black History Month allies from across Canada’s film sector will also be taking part online, with six guest curators providing their selection of their favourite NFB works by Black filmmakers.
The NFB website will be spotlighting two playlists:
• Focus on Black Filmmakers is a playlist of 29 new and classic titles by Black directors, including distinguished documentary and animated works;
• The NFB is also launching a new playlist for Black History Month 2024: NFB Abroad: Africa On Screen. This selection of 26 NFB films made across Africa illuminates the continent and its people, arts and culture, in addition to Canadian intersections with Africa over the years.
The NFB is working with local partners across the country to help mark Black History Month through local community screenings. Canadians can visit the NFB website to find out about events in their communities.
Tributes to Charles Officer
When Charles Officer died on December 1, Canada lost a compassionate storyteller and a great champion of stories from Black communities.
Online at nfb.ca
The NFB website is presenting the full 83-minute version of his first NFB film, Mighty Jerome, free of charge.
Special screening in Montreal
On February 7, Mighty Jerome will be presented at 7 p.m. at the Alanis Obomsawin Theatre, located in the NFB’s headquarters, in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles:
• 1501 rue De Bleury (Place-des-Arts Metro).
The evening will kick off with an introduction by curators and invited guests, followed by a minute of silence. The feature presentation of Mighty Jerome will be preceded by Martine Chartrand’s award-winning NFB animated short MacPherson.
People who wish to attend this free screening must RSVP on Eventbrite.
Strong voices from across Canada are taking part in the NFB’s Black History Month events as guest curators online—with some also participating in the Montreal event:
• Carla Beauvais and Tracy Paulotte, from Fondation Dynastie;
• Patrice Bernier, Montreal Impact sports legend and community leader;
• Dalton Higgins, publicist, author and broadcaster;
• Ella Cooper, founder of Black Women Film! Canada;
• Michael P. Farkas, president of the Black History Month in Quebec;
• ByBlacks.com, the #1 online magazine for Black Canadians.
“The National Film Board of Canada was privileged to be able to work with Charles Officer and we were deeply saddened by his passing. I hope that this year’s Black History Month activities at the NFB can serve as a fitting tribute to his great talent and enormous spirit, and I want to thank our guest curators for their special contributions. Through our ongoing work with Black creators across Canada, the NFB is dedicated to celebrating and honouring the country’s diverse Black communities, with powerful new stories and perspectives.”
—Suzanne Guèvremont, Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson
“Anyone who has had the privilege of working with Charles Officer, on a film or in a play, quickly realized what a talented artist he was. But it was not until the project was over that you fully understood the impact that he’d made on you at the personal level. Charles respected everyone, and everyone respected him. He was a unique individual with a lot of heart. He usually ended his emails to me with, ‘Much love to you Good Sir.’ I am honoured to echo that sentiment to him: Much love to you, Good Sir!”
—Selwyn Jacob, producer of Mighty Jerome
“Fondation Dynastie is honoured to serve as guest curator with the NFB as part of this initiative showcasing the exceptional achievements of Canadian creators of African descent. For my part, I’m an avid cinephile and I enjoy discovering cinematic gems that depict the realities experienced by the members of our communities. The fact that we can also tell these stories from our own perspective is all the more rewarding. Congratulations to the NFB team for creating this important catalogue of films created by Black people that are accessible to all. I invite you to watch them without delay!”
—Carla Beauvais, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Fondation Dynastie
– 30 –
French version here | Version française ici.