The Space Race Montreal Black Film Festival

The Montreal International Black Film Festival is on from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1

Our highlights of the MIBFF, from red carpet events to neighbourhood screenings, featuring exciting new films from around the world.

The 19th edition of the Montreal International Black Film Festival (MIBFF) is happening from Sept. 27 and Oct. 1, with a program promising more than 75 films from over 20 countries, including Canada, France, Belgium, Botswana, Chad, Congo, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Italy, Madagascar, Poland and Sudan. The festival, which is screening feature and short films, also has an online component, with titles available to stream in Canada and worldwide.

MIBFF opens on Wednesday, Sept. 27 with The Space Race at the Imperial Cinema. The documentary, directed by Lisa Cortés and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, uncovers the little-known stories of the first Black pilots, engineers and scientists to become astronauts. Simultaneously championed and exploited as political pawns, some made it to space, while others were erased from history.

The festival’s closing film, Goodbye Julia (screening Oct. 1 at Cinéma du Musée), is set before the secession of South Sudan. The film tells the story of a married former singer from the north seeks redemption for causing the death of a southern man by hiring his oblivious wife as her maid.

This year’s other special events include a red carpet screening of Invisible Beauty, directed by Bethann Hardison and Frédéric Tcheng, planned for Friday, Sept. 29. Fashion revolutionary Bethann Hardison looks back on her journey as a pioneering Black model, modelling agent and activist, shining a light on an untold chapter in the fight for racial diversity.

Other events include the Pop-Up Market at Afromusée on Sept. 30, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Pop-up Market aims to showcase Black artists and highlight their original, artistic and cultural works, ranging from painting to hairdressing, fashion to decoration, jewellery to traditional adornments.

The festival will also resume the MIBFF Black Film Market (running from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1), presented by the Festwave Institute and co-presented by Patrimoine Canadien, SODEC, Téléfilm Canada, Bell Fund, Warner Bros. Discovery Access Canada. The market will feature in-person and online panels and is devoted to industrial professionals. This year’s panels include talks on Grant Writing in Quebec, Preserving Black History, Fighting for our Rights and A.I. 

Outside of screening a wide variety of films from around the world downtown, the MIBFF also strives to bring cinema directly to Black communities across Montreal. MIBFF in the Neighbourhoods presents free screenings of films created by members of the city’s Black communities, followed by 60-minute discussions with the filmmakers. The events will take place at Côtes-des-Neiges Cultural Centre, Maison culturelle et communautaire de Montréal-Nord and Maison d’Haïti. 

Not sure what to see? Aside from the special events, below is a selection of five feature films we recommend checking out at MIBFF 2023.


1960 (directed by Michael Mutombo & King Shaft)

When the remains of an apartheid-era policeman are discovered 60 years after he went missing, a retired singer revisits her past to help with the investigation. But how much does she know, and what is she holding back?

1960 screens at Cinéma du Parc on Sept. 30, 7 p.m.

An Italian Youth 

An Italian Youth (directed by Mathieu Volpe)

This documentary depicts immigrant life in Italy. After marrying a girl from his native village, Sokuro, a young Burkinabe immigrant living in Italy, tries to build a future with her despite the distance that separates their two worlds.

An Italian Youth screens on Sept. 29 at 9 PM, Cinémathèque Québécoise

Colette and Justin

Colette and Justin (directed by Alain Kassanda)

This debut documentary feature film by Alain Kassanda starts off as a process of self-examination: How well does he really know his grandparents? How true are his ideas about his birth country, DR Congo, whose national identity was partly molded by the Belgian colonizers? And, by extension, how much does he know about himself? In Colette et Justin, Kassanda travels through time and his own past, bringing postcolonial Congo to evocative life.

Colette and Justin screens at the Cinémathèque Québécoise on Sept. 28, 6:30 p.m.

Mon Père, le Diable

Mon Père, le Diable (directed by Ellie Foumbi)

Mon Père, le Diable is a psychological thriller about an African refugee whose quiet existence in a sleepy mountain town in the south of France is upended by the arrival of a charismatic Catholic priest, whom she recognizes as the warlord who slaughtered her family.

Mon Pére, le diable screens at Cinéma du Parc on Sept. 30, 3 p.m.


Semret (directed by Caterina Mona)

Semret, a single mom, works at a local Zurich hospital, doing everything to ensure a better life for her daughter Joe. When Semret was wrongfully accused of a crime at the hospital, she stood up for her rights to not lose everything. The film, screened at Locarno earlier this year, sheds a spotlight on the Eritrean community in Switzerland.

Semret screens at Cinéma du Parc on Sept. 29, 7 p.m.

For more on the Montreal International Black Film Festival, please visit their website

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