Vancouver International Black Film Festival artfully highlights Black narratives

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      By Julia Dumbrell

      Marie just can’t let go of her past, and it is holding her back from moving forward.

      This is the basis for the masterfully-made thriller-mystery Our Father, the Devil, which opens the Vancouver International Black Film Festival (VIBFF) tonight at 7pm.

      Resonantly directed by Ellie Foumbi and featuring an indelible performance by star Babetida Sadjo, Our Father, the Devil absorbs viewers with the poignant merging of Marie’s past and future. She tries to keep her career and relationships separate from the traumas hung at home—the former driving her to burnout while, ironically, the latter sparks the joy of retribution. With an inability to forget, Marie’s only way forward is to watch the life drain from her symbolic demons.

      Still from Our Father, the Devil.

      This is the third year of the VIBFF, which president and founder Fabienne Colas says was created to give voice to Black narratives and to leverage “the power of films for maximum impact.”

      The festival’s program assembles a continually expanding archive of lived Black experiences. The narratives help educate our city’s film-goers, encouraging an ongoing dialogue with contemporary nuance. 

      “The way Black people are represented in film forms a prototype which will continue long after we’re gone,” says senior programmer Jean-François Méan. “Those making Black films are Black history-makers in their own right.”

      Aside from the BC premiere of Our Father, the Devil, VIBFF’s lineup also includes the Fabienne Colas Foundation’s award-winning Being Black in Canada short film series, and the VIBFF Black Market, where film and television industry professionals share their thoughts and real-world experiences on today’s critical filmmaking issues. 

      A shot of Marie among Southern France’s fog-coated mountains impactfully ends Our Father, the Devil. She dreams of a life in which the scars from her past are tended to with the care shown by her new relationships. VIBFF maintains the hopefulness of this closing scene’s magnitude, aspiring to “give Black creators increased visibility and assistance to realize their projects and goals,” as stated by the festival’s head coordinator Andrea Este.

      Highlighting emerging artists and marginalized voices, the stories VIBFF showcases are instrumental in looking towards the city’s next generation of filmmakers. 

      Vancouver International Black Film Festival 

      When: December 1 to 4

      Where: VIFF Centre

      Tickets: $12 to $45, available online