The Toronto Black Film Festival (TBFF) celebrates its 11th anniversary with a return to IN-PERSON programming, and an online component, from February 15-20, 2023/ Created by the Fabienne Colas Foundation, TBFF brings innovative, powerful, diverse, and bold programming to Toronto audiences, while also maintaining online accessibility.   

The Festival presents 125 films from 20 countries – including 37 World premieres, 18 International premieres, 37 Canadian premieres, 18 Ontario premieres, and 7 Toronto premieres. 

The Festival’s opening night takes place on Wednesday, February 15th at 8PM at the Isabel Bader Theatre with the Ontario Premiere of Matt Waldeck’s LOVELY JACKSON (USA), followed by a Q&A session with the director and subject, Rickey Jackson. The film is exonerated prisoner Rickey Jackson’s daring first-hand account of the psychology of survival and spiritual fortitude required to withstand 39 years of wrongful incarceration for a murder he didn’t commit.

TBFF will also pay tribute to award-winning Writer, Producer and Director Jennifer Holness as part of the opening night celebrations.  Holness is the first Black woman in Canada to win a Canadian Screen Award (CSA) for best writing, she is the 2021 Indiescreen Producer of the Year, and a 2022 WIFT Creative Excellence Award winner. Her recent feature doc, Subjects of Desire, has won numerous festival awards and was a 2021 TIFF top 10 film. Her TV series include Shoot The Messenger and Guns, with the latter winning 5 CSA’s and garnering a prestigious Rose d’Or nomination.  Her narrative feature films, Home Again, and Love, Sex and Eating the Bones have screened around the globe, with Bones winning a Best First Feature award at TIFF. She is a Founder and the Inaugural Chair of the Black Screen Office and is an Executive Board Member of the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA).  

TBFF closes at the Carlton Cinema with the Canadian Premiere of Frank Berry’s AISHA starring Letitia Wright and Josh O’Connor (Ireland). Aisha, a young Nigerian woman seeking asylum in Ireland is floundering in a maze of social services and bureaucracy. As her situation becomes increasingly dire, Aisha struggles to maintain hope and dignity against the looming threat of deportation.

Woman Meets Girl is an emotionally charged Queer story about the unlikely connection between two seemingly opposite protagonists. It’s written, directed, and executive produced by Murry Peeters, and is produced by and stars Enuka Okuma (Workin’ Moms, Rookie Blue). Okuma stars as quiet and introverted Annabelle, alongside the wild and daring Tessie, played by Chelsea Russell (SkyMed, See), who recently received accolades for her performance in TO Live and Soulpepper Theatre’s ‘da Kink in My Hair.

Having set and shot the film in Toronto, we’re excited to be screening it for the first time, to a hometown audience,” says writer-director, Murry Peeters.  Over a vodka-fueled game of Never Have I Ever, Annabelle, a 42-year-old virgin and Tessie, an 18-year-old homeless sex worker, challenge each other to expose their vulnerabilities, revealing their differences and similarities. Through the night, an undeniable chemistry emerges between them.

Other  #TBFF23 must-see feature films are Sheep’s Clothings, Know Your Place, What We Do Next, Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story, and Aisha. Furthermore, some of the thought-provoking documentaries include Kaepernick and America, Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands, Cesaria Evora, Music Pictures New Orleans, and The Melt Goes On Forever:  The Art and Times of David Hammons.

The TBFF All Access Passes and individual tickets are on sale now on the Festival’s website.

Get Social #TBFF23 | Twitter @TOBlackFilmFest | Instagram @torontoblackfilmfest

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.