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Courtesy of Cimarrón Productions

Cimarrón Is the Women-Led Film Production Company Empowering Afro-Colombians to Tell Their Own Stories

The "first Afro-Colombian film production company," is teaching filmmaking in Colombia's black communities in order to combat the lack of representation.

When filmmaker, activist, and cultural agent Heny Cuesta first started her career in Colombia, she noticed a severe lack of black creators in the industry. Cuesta, an Afro-Colombian originally from Cali, was the only Black woman in a room full of mestizo directors at a panel discussion at the International Film Festival in Cartagena de Indias (FICCI) in 2013.

"None of the filmmakers were black, but they were talking about ethnic content despite the fact that they didn't know the territory," says Cuesta. That scene shocked her, but it reflected the low number of movies directed by black directors in Colombia. In 2018, Colombia's film industry premiered 37 feature films and only one of them –Candelaria– was directed by a black director. It received many international awards.

The lack of blackness in Colombia's film industry goes far beyond studios, film festivals and production companies. Afro-Colombians make up almost 20 percent of the population but historically have had few opportunities to access education. Most black Colombians, who come from cities and towns along the Pacific and the Caribbean coasts, have been neglected and isolated due to a lack of infrastructure, as well as a lack of education and job opportunities.

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"Our Lady of the Nile" image courtesy of TIFF.

These 'Hidden Gems' From Africa & the Diaspora are Now Showing at TIFF

Here are 12 films from across the diaspora to check out before the Toronto International Film Festival ends.

The Toronto International Film Festival, one the largest international film festivals in the world, is currently underway in Canada's largest metropolis.

As with previous years. the festival sees some of the biggest names in the industry gather for premieres of the most noteworthy films released this year, as well as screenings of older titles. Amongst these standout titles are several from filmmakers from African and the diaspora.

READ: The OkayAfrica Guide to Getting Your Movie Into Film Festivals

The folks at TIFF have compiled a list of films that they consider to be "hidden gems" on this year's program and we've chosen twelve of them to highlight below. These exciting features and short films come from filmmakers from a number of countries, including Tunisia, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria and more.

Read more about each selection below, with descriptions and images from TIFF.

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