TBFF 2024: Emerging Black Filmmakers Showcase Stories of Resilience and Struggle in Toronto

26 February 2024 / by Gabriel Hilty
Toronto Black Film Festival
TBFF 2024: Emerging Black Filmmakers Showcase Stories of Resilience and Struggle in Toronto
The Being Black in Toronto series gives a look into Black stories in the city.

Toronto is home to the largest Black population in Canada and contains countless unique communities and stories. Five young Black filmmakers showcased their short films at the 2024 edition of the Toronto Black Film Festival


Their films, created as part of the Being Black in Canada Program, are a display of a variety of topics featuring stories of facing challenges to strength and resilience. They also highlight diversity in their storytelling and cinematic techniques, often representing the first films or the beginning of the young filmmakers’ journeys.


Reel Resilience by Abisola Bamigboye is a story of strength against the odds. Aptly titled, the short film follows the story of two young filmmakers in Toronto. As recent immigrants from Nigeria and Iraq, they came to Toronto looking for new opportunities. The film is inspiring, showing two filmmakers of colour overcoming obstacles, displaying grit and perseverance to break into an unfamiliar environment, and sharing their knowledge with others trying to start in the industry. Reel Resilience is a must-watch for filmmakers discouraged or unsure where to start in Toronto film.


Whatever Happened to Intergenerational Wealth by Nnadozie Ekeocha dives deep into its namesake topic. It examines intergenerational wealth generated through property ownership, and how it hasn’t historically been present for Black communities in Toronto. Told by two Black Torontonians working in the real estate industry, the film delivers moving personal stories to break down a complex problem: exclusionary and racist practices in money lending to red-lining of buying and renting are reasons why Black communities haven’t been able to access intergenerational wealth. The dive into Toronto’s problematic real estate landscape is essential viewing for anyone living in the city.


Changing Tides by Gabriel Hudson is my personal favourite in the Being Black in Toronto series. It’s a film that tackles the intersectionality of race, immigration, and Toronto’s 2SLGBTQ+ community. It focuses on the story of Jhanik Bullard, a Black screenwriter who applied for asylum in Canada. Bullard is gay and left his homeland of the Bahamas out of fear for his sexual orientation. With insight from Ugandan activist Dennis Wamala with the Rainbow Railroad, the film highlights how Canada’s asylum system can be retraumatizing for 2SLGBTQ+ immigrants who are forced to relive their personal stories. Changing Tides is a powerful look at how Toronto’s reputation for diversity and inclusion isn’t always straightforward.


The Invisibles by Noah (Eniola) Makanjuola focuses on the urgent topic of the homelessness crisis in Toronto, and how the impact is felt in Black communities. With the help of expert insight from a Black Toronto architect, the film examines the challenges Black youth face in the housing market. Family is at the centre of the storytelling, and the film explores how a more individualistic family structure in the West can contribute to homelessness. A negative spiral leading to housing struggles is also part of this powerful film that makes viewers pause and consider their own circumstances.  With heavy topics and vulnerable stories, The Invisibles is an essential look at a crisis that impacts everyone, but hits Black youth harder than others. 


When Men Speak by Itete Gatete is a film about the current mental health crisis. It focuses on the epidemic’s impact on Black men, told eloquently through the performances of three Black spoken word artists. With contrast-rich visuals, the film quite literally puts a spotlight on the stigma that exists around mental health within African and Caribbean communities. Deeply intimate stories, such as discussing the impact of an absence of fatherly love, act as the glue of a film that effectively weaves three poetic stories together. When Men Speak is a must-watch with a unique way of platforming important stories of Black men and mental health by combining cinematic vision and spoken word.


All of the films within the Being Black in Canada series, which includes the cities Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax, and Calgary, are expected to premiere on CBC throughout the year and be made available for streaming on CBC Gem.