Last year, the inaugural edition of the Toronto Black Film Festival unfurled in a city already more than blessed with specialty movie events, but was obviously undeterred by the crowd. It's back.
The TBFF kicked off its second edition this week, following an earlier announcement by festival founder and director Fabienne Colas that, if anything, this year's event is actually even timelier than last year's: "The year 2014 is a symbolic year for us, commemorating several groundbreaking anniversaries," Colas said, citing, among other anniversaries, the 20th anniversary of the late Nelson Mandela's election as South African president, 20 years since the Rwandan genocide and five years since the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama. This, Colas added, is why the second TBFF is dedicated "to the memory of the legendary leader Nelson Mandela."
By the time it wraps on Feb. 16, the TBFF will have screened more than 30 films of varying lengths and stylistic orientation, and generously mixing drama, documentaries, shorts and features.
It's a decidedly eclectic mix of tones and approaches, ranging from star-driven, commercial narrative movies (Cristo Rey, Feb. 14; Four of Hearts (above), Feb. 15; Blue Caprice, Feb. 16) to specialty short programs like Sunday evening's showcase of four short films – Banished, King of Hearts, Release Mandela and Mandela: A Royal Revolutionary – documenting the life and legacy of Mandela himself.
A sister event to the 10-year-old Montreal International Black Film Festival, the TBFF holds most of its screenings at the Carlton Cinema (torontoblackfilm.com).