Movie Night in Canada: Mighty Jerome tells Vancouver sports hero's story

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      Although Black History Month may be coming to a close, hopefully it's inspired many people to explore black history and culture more in-depth.

      For instance, Vancity Theatre ran a BHM film series this month, co-curated by Barbara Chirinos, which took a look at subjects as varied as the Black Panthers, the history of the tango, and a student protest in Montreal. Needless to say, that's only a sample of what's available to view.

      We decided to ask Chirinos for further BHM recommendations for Movie Night in Canada, our series that highlights rare, unsung, or forgotten Canadian cinematic gems.

      Chirinos is the Granville Island Cultural Society executive director, a board director of the Haida Gwaii Film Festival, and was previously a gala producer of the Vancouver International Film Festival.

      Chirinos came up with a great pick that celebrates the accomplishments of a local resident: Charles Officer's 2010 film Mighty Jerome.

      The National Film Board of Canada documentary tells the story of local hero Harry Jerome, who lived from 1940 to 1982 and became a Canadian track-and-field star, even as he contended with physical injuries and racial identity issues.

      Here's what Chirinos, who moved to Vancouver from Brooklyn, New York, had to say about the film:

      When I moved to Canada, from the U.S., I had no idea there were any black historical figures. Imagine my delight to discover the first of many black heroes through the film the Mighty Jerome, which tells the story of Vancouver local, Harry Jerome. Although Mr. Jerome battled political turbulence, personal challenges, and racial conflict, he was [to quote IMDb] "a man who forever changed the Canadian sports landscape and made an indelible mark upon the world".

      Georgia Straight film reviewer Ken Eisner called the film a "smartly constructed, visually exciting" documentary that details history in "thoughtfully provocative pieces".   

      Harry Jerome statue in Stanley Park

      A statue on the Stanley Park seawall, North Vancouver's Harry Jerome Sports Complex, Burnaby's Harry Jerome Sports Centre, and the Harry Jerome International Track Classic all pay tribute to the athletic great.

      Want to watch the film? It's available for viewing on DVD or can be downloaded or rented at the NFB website