The 17th edition of the Montreal International Black Film Festival is on now

The hybrid edition of the festival runs from Sept. 22 to Oct. 3.

The 17th edition of the Montreal International Black Film Festival begins today in a pandemic-friendly hybrid edition. A handful of in-person events are planned in various venues (Cinéma du Parc, Cinéma Beaubien, the Cinémathèque and two Maisons de la Culture: Côte-des-Neiges and Montreal North), with the majority of the festival’s programming being available online to Canadian and North American audiences depending on the film.

Opening the festival tonight at the Imperial is With Drawn Arms, a documentary about athlete Tommie Smith, who is known for his iconic fist-raising gesture at the 1968 Olympics. This breakthrough moment in civil rights history is discussed by many parties including the late John Lewis and Colin Kapernick. Alan Brain’s documentary The Rumba Kings (Sept. 22 at the Cinémathèque) explores the birth and history of Congolese rumba, while Regard noir (Sept. 25 at the Cinémathèque) explores the representation of Black women in cinema.

The Rumba Kings (Montreal International Black Film Festival)

Omar Sy is one of three honourees this year alongside Firmine Richard and Martine Chartrand; he stars in Le prince oublié (Sept. 26 at Beaubien), a children’s fairy tale from director Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist). Sy, Richard and Chartrand are all set for online “In Conversation With” sessions that will be accessible throughout the festival alongside repeat conversations and panels taped earlier this year at the Toronto Black Film Festival. Also aimed at children is the German film Jim Button and the Wild 13, an adventure story set in a world of trains and dragons (Sept. 25 at Beaubien). Finally, on Sept. 28 you can see Jennifer Holness’s Subjects of Desire, a documentary about shifting beauty standards in North America. It should be noted that all in-person events are also available to watch online.

The rest of the film’s programming is exclusively online, including the festival’s closing film, Claus Drexel’s Under the Stars of Paris starring Catherine Frot and newcomer Mahamadou Yaffa. All online tickets are valid for the duration of the festival. Highlights include Voodoo Macbeth, a dramatization of 1936 all-black production of Macbeth directed by Orson Welles; Portuguese cop drama The Silence of the Rain; Thibault Monnier’s Haiti-set Wozo, which is one of the festival’s world premieres; South African family drama Barakat; Congolese activist documentary Stop Filming Us; the U.S. mental illness doc Any Given Day and many more.

The festival also features an extensive short film program as well as several events to be broadcast online.

For more on Montreal International Black Film Festival programming and to purchase tickets, please visit their website.

For more film coverage, please visit the Film & TV section.