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These 5 Black Directors Are Set To Premiere Films at TIFF 2018

From Amma Asante to Barry Jenkins, this year's Toronto International Film Festival is in for stand-out, fresh perspectives in black cinema.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) returns in its 43rd year of transforming the way people see the world through film.

The festival recently announced it's first batch of films for the Gala and Special Presentation programs that include 21 world premieres, seven international premieres, eight North American premieres and 11 Canadian premieres, according to the press release.

"We have an exceptional selection of films this year that will excite Festival audiences from all walks of life," Piers Handling, TIFF CEO and director says. "Today's lineup showcases beloved auteurs alongside fresh voices in filmmaking, including numerous female powerhouses. The sweeping range in cinematic storytelling from around the world is a testament to the uniqueness of the films that are being made."

Out of these films, five by today's top black directors stood out as must-watch films to catch if you plan on attending TIFF this year.

Check them out, with synopses from TIFF, below.


Where Hands Touch | Amma Asante

Photo via TIFF.

Amandla Stenberg stars in director Amma Asante's (A United Kingdom) disquieting coming-of-age romance about a Black German teenager who falls in love with a member of the Hitler Youth.

World Premiere

Widows | Steve McQueen

Photo via TIFF.

A heavyweight cast—including Viola Davis, Daniel Kaluuya, Liam Neeson, Jacki Weaver, Colin Farrell, and Michelle Rodriguez—propels Steve McQueen's white-knuckle thriller (co-written by Gone Girl's Gillian Flynn) about four women left in a deadly lurch when their criminally connected husbands are all killed.

World Premiere

The Weekend | Stella Meghie

Photo via TIFF.

An acerbic comedian (Sasheer Zamata) becomes romantically entangled with her ex (Tone Bell), his new girlfriend (DeWanda Wise), and another guest (Y'Lan Noel) during a weekend getaway, in the newest feature from Stella Meghie (Jean of the Joneses).

World Premiere

If Beale Street Could Talk | Barry Jenkins

Photo via TIFF.

Director Barry Jenkins' ambitious follow-up to Moonlight adapts James Baldwin's poignant novel about a woman fighting to free her falsely accused husband from prison before the birth of their child.

World Premiere

Monsters and Men | Reinaldo Marcus Green

Photo via TIFF.

When a Black man is shot dead by police, three members of his community face different but serious consequences if they reveal their knowledge of the murder or the systemic corruption behind it, in writer-director Reinaldo Marcus Green's bracing feature debut.

Canadian Premiere

The 43rd Toronto International Film Festival runs from Sept. 6 to 16, 2018. Visit their website for more information.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Interview
Photo by Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images via Getty Images.

How a Global Pandemic Has Failed to Stop South Africa's Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Crisis

We speak to women in key positions about the state of gender-based violence and femicide in South Africa during the continued national lockdown.

Recently, South African women were outraged by the horrific murder of 28-year-old Tshego Pule. She was found hanging from a tree with stab wounds to her chest after she went missing at the beginning of June. Pule was also reportedly heavily pregnant at the time of her death. And while her perpetrator, 31 year-old Mzikayise Malephane, was charged with pre-meditated murder not long afterwards, this is not the universal experience of South African women when it comes to obtaining justice.

There is no other subject, save for governmental corruption and state capture perhaps, that receives as much attention in the media as gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide in South Africa. And despite the alarming statistics which are well above the global average and frighteningly so, there is a glaring lack of political will by the ANC-led government to bring about any actual change. President Cyril Ramaphosa has made promises about perpetrators of violence against women being charged with harsher sentences. This has still not come to fruition. There is radio silence from the numerous task forces set up to develop various approaches in addressing the crisis. And still, women continue to die, the daily online hashtags demanding justice for them falling on deaf ears.

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Interview
Photo: Shawn Theodore via Schure Media Group/Roc Nation

Interview: Buju Banton Is a Lyrical Purveyor of African Truth

A candid conversation with the Jamaican icon about his new album, Upside Down 2020, his influence on afrobeats, and the new generation of dancehall.

Devout fans of reggae music have been longing for new musical offerings from Mark Anthony Myrie, widely-known as the iconic reggae superstar Buju Banton. A shining son of Jamaican soil, with humble beginnings as one of 15 siblings in the close-knit community of Salt Lane, Kingston, the 46-year-old musician is now a legend in his own right.

Buju Banton has 12 albums under his belt, one Grammy Award win for Best Reggae Album, numerous classic hits and a 30-year domination of the industry. His larger-than-life persona, however, is more than just the string of accolades that follow in the shadows of his career. It is his dutiful, authentic style of Caribbean storytelling that has captured the minds and hearts of those who have joined him on this long career ride.

The current socio-economic climate of uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrusted onto the world, coupled with the intensified fight against racism throughout the diaspora, have taken centre stage within the last few months. Indubitably, this makes Buju—and by extension, his new album—a timely and familiar voice of reason in a revolution that has called for creative evolution.

With his highly-anticipated album, Upside Down 2020, the stage is set for Gargamel. The title of this latest discography feels nothing short of serendipitous, and with tracks such as "Memories" featuring John Legend and the follow-up dancehall single "Blessed," it's clear that this latest body of work is a rare gem that speaks truth to vision and celebrates our polylithic African heritage in its rich fullness and complexities.

Having had an exclusive listen to some other tracks on the album back in April, our candid one-on-one conversation with Buju Banton journeys through his inspiration, collaboration and direction for Upside Down 2020, African cultural linkages and the next generational wave of dancehall and reggae.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

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