Today is the opening day of the 20th edition of Reelworld Film Festival
. As I reflect on the 20 years of Reelworld, I can’t help but also reflect on the 45 years of my own career in this wonderful industry we call the entertainment industry as well as reflect on my 62 years in a world where racism has thrived. We have come so far and I know we still have so far to go.
When I started Reelworld I honestly had no idea that I would be setting something in motion that would have such an impact on the Canadian industry. My goal has always been the same – to help create more access for Canadian Black, Indigenous, People of Colour in film and television. I felt that increased access was the best way to change the content I was seeing on our screens. I was tired of the stereotypical negative images that were on our airwaves. I wanted young people to walk with pride because they could see themselves reflected in the characters they saw. I grew up not seeing that on-screen in my young life. Back in the early 60’s when I was watching television and films, I saw no stories that looked like my family. When those few Black characters came on-screen. I felt embarrassed. Now that I am older. I have a great deal of respect for those actors who had to portray those dehumanizing characters to have any presence at all on those screens.
The year 2020 will forever be burned into our memories. COVID-19 and George Floyd will be remembered as the tsunamis that created a global shift which guaranteed that our lives would never be the same again. The ugly head of racism raised its face once again – more defiant than ever. But the collective strength of fair-minded people rose too. They marched together under the most challenging circumstances to drown those dark forces out.
I am so proud of our filmmakers this year and of our E20’s who continue to inspire me with their talent, creativity and tenacity. I am so grateful to our long-standing partners many of whom have been on this journey with Reelworld since its inception. I owe you a debt of gratitude.
I look to the past, but I also look to the future, where I see so much hope and promise. I am inspired every day by our Canadian talent. Especially those who thrive with so little encouragement and support. Like tiny beautiful flowers in a wasteland with no light or water – and still, they manage to reach up and up, strong and resilient.
Here’s the unvarnished truth. None of my life has been easy, not one single part of it. From when I wake till I sleep, it feels like a fight to the death. So many people wanting you to fail, working against you. I know I’m not special in this regard. This is a shared journey among most Black, Indigenous, People of Colour. This is ours to bear. We know there’s no point in complaining. We have to save ourselves. We shoulder on and bob and weave, avoiding the pitfalls.
As you the audience watch the films and the webinars this year, try to remember the sacrifices our filmmakers, moderators and panelists endured to achieve what they have. None of it came easy to them either.
What’s New For Reelworld?
This is the year that realized a 20 year dream for Reelworld. Access Reelworld,
a national database filled with racially diverse Canadian talent in more than 98 job categories in the creative industries. Long gone will be those tired excuses from broadcasters and production companies that they couldn’t find diverse talent to fill their jobs. Access Reelworld is brimming with Canadian talent seeking and ready to work.
Today we launch our application for the Reelworld Producers Program specifically designed for racially diverse aspiring producers who want to work with writers, directors and actors to bring their stories to the screens.
I hope one message comes through loud and clear. Reelworld is here to stay. We continue to fight the hard fight and we have no intention of crumbling away. We are more determined that ever. We want to see your stories told with authentic voices. There is just too much at stake.