Projects in Canada also lack di­ver­sity, Co­las says

Toronto Star - - ENTERTAINMENT - VIC­TO­RIA AHEARN THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

While the Cana­dian Screen Awards tout a di­verse slate of 2016 nom­i­nees, there’s still a dearth of roles for peo­ple of colour in this coun­try, says the founder of the Mon­treal In­ter­na­tional Black Film Fes­ti­val and the Toronto Black Film Fes­ti­val.

“In the U.S.A., you do have those roles for black peo­ple or for African-Amer­i­can peo­ple, how­ever you want to call them,” says Haitian na­tive Fa­bi­enne Co­las, point­ing to re­cent films, in­clud­ing Selma and Creed.

“Those roles ex­ist, those op­por­tu­ni­ties are there, but they’re not be­ing rec­og­nized — ver­sus in Canada, in a year when you will not have The Book of Ne­groes, who are they go­ing to nom­i­nate in the Cana­dian Screen Awards?”

The Book of Ne­groes minis­eries has 11 CSA nom­i­na­tions, in­clud­ing act­ing nods for Lyriq Bent, Aun­janue El­lis and Shai­lyn Pierre-Dixon.

Those nom­i­na­tions and a few oth­ers have some Cana­dian per­form­ers prais­ing the CSAs as be­ing more in­clu­sive than the Os­cars in the United States. where two straight years of all-white act­ing nom­i­nees have prompted back­lash and academy changes.

Co­las, an ac­tor-di­rec­tor-pro­ducer, notes it’s an ex­cep­tional year at the CSAs.

“What’s go­ing to hap­pen next year? What’s go­ing to hap­pen af­ter that?” she says.

“If the in­dus­try does not con­tinue to make films with peo­ple of colour in the lead roles, well, at a cer­tain point in time in Canada . . . we won’t have any per­sons of colour to give this nom­i­na­tion to.”

She says one so­lu­tion is to en­sure a di­verse makeup of com­mit­tee or jury mem­bers at in­sti­tu­tions that give grants to film­mak­ers.

The Toronto Black Film Fes­ti­val runs Wed­nes­day through Sun­day with 44 ti­tles from 20 coun­tries.

Nine of the ti­tles come from Canada.

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