This is an archive for the ICED IN BLACK: Canadian Black Experiences on Film, 2001-2003 annual film festival. The first year of the festival was in Waterloo, at the University of Waterloo, then in the second and third years it expanded to other cities across Canada as well.
I was involved as a volunteer in the first year, and wrote articles previewing the festival in the first and second years for the local weekly Tri-Cities ECHO newspaper. This archive is centred on those two articles but also features a listing of the films, with links to trailers and full films online as available, and other articles+ that I’ve been able to locate from back then, plus some more recent related content.
Back then, in the earlier era of the internet, it was more difficult to access non-mainstream films, and so a festival devoted to “Canadian Black Experiences on Film” was very important to have, providing the opportunity to discover these films and to experience them in a collective fora, with guest speakers including some of the filmmakers and people in the films.
— Sections —
- 2002 preview article
- Audio of PSA as broadcast on CKMS 100.3 Radio Waterloo
- Links to other authors’ 2002 articles
- Link to archived five-city schedule
- Listing of 2002 films
- The ICED IN BLACK Story
- Link to other 2003 articles
- Link to archived nine-city schedule
- Listing of 2003 films
- Link to festival founder/director Nadia Hohn’s 2022 reflection on the festival, and her current work
- Database of all three years of films **including links to trailers and full films, and other detailed info**
- Notes on this archive, from curator Greg Macdougall
- #BlackLivesCDNSyllabus project
- The State of Blackness project / Canadian Black Film Database (up until 2015)
Version 1.0 – published April 19, 2023. Check back in this space for notes on updates to this archive.
Updates to come relatively soon:
… (1) Improvements and more details added to ICED… database.
(2) ‘Note from Curator’ section to be elaborated.
(3) Audio PSA from 2002 to be uploaded.
… (4) Significant additions are likely sometime in the summer
Intro and purpose of this archive
The purpose of this archive is two-fold:
One part is a documentation of the initiative, that people can access to know what it was, and to serve as inspiration for what people can do. While ICED IN BLACK served to bring people together to share in Canadian Black culture and history (during Black History Month), the festival itself is now also a part of Black history in Canada.
The other part is simply as a collection of Canadian Black films, brought together by virtue of their inclusion in the festival, gathered in a way that can promote the individual films, making them more accessible for people to discover.
This archive can also serve as inspiration for further similar work, as people see fit. Personally I think that if this can reach into schools and/or other community settings, perhaps the youths will have ideas about what they can do further along these lines, in some way or other,
Acclaimed Black Canadian filmmaker Karen King, who was a guest speaker at the 2001 festival where multiple films she produced were screened, had this to say:
“I was at a festival last year  and there was a film being shown and it was a film about Black hair. I’m like, “Oh my God, if we do another film about Black hair I’m going to frickin’ die.” We need to know what’s been made already, and we need to move on and tell another story. It’s difficult because the gatekeepers are happy to have us stay in one little corner. What we have to be willing to do is kind of blow their minds and say no. There’s a lot of initiatives right now for diversity, but trust me, they can be gone just as quick as they came.”
– as quoted in “An oral history of the Black Film and Video Network” [CBC, Amanda Paris, 2020]
I think this says it pretty well, one of the reasons to document and share what’s already been done
Note for National Canadian Film Day 2023
This archive is being launched on April 19th 2023, the tenth annual National Canadian Film Day and twenty years since the final year of the ICED IN BLACK: Canadian Black Experiences on Film festival.
Hopefully this can serve to get some added deserved attention now and into the future for the festival, its featured films, and Black filmmaking in Canada overall.
Of special note this year: Clement Virgo’s celebrated film Brother won a record* twelve 2023 Canadian Screen Awards – including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay [*a film had previously won more than 12 Genie Awards, prior to 2012 when the Genies became the SCAs]. In the process of working on this archive, searching for links to online trailers and full versions of the films, I got the permission of filmmaker Glace Lawrence and distributor Vtape to make available a 10-minute preview of the 1999 film Coming To Voice, which documents the making of Virgo’s 1995 film Rude as well as the emergence of Black filmmaking in Canada overall.
(Here is the film’s Vtape webpage; contact Vtape to view it or other films by Lawrence in full)
WATCH THE PREVIEW (the film was part of the 2003 ICED… lineup):
Black Film Fest at UW
By GREG MACDOUGALL | ECHO WEEKLY, February 8, 2001
(Text version of article follows image)
For a first-year film festival, “Iced in Black: Canadian Black Experiences on Film” certainly has a star-studded lineup. The opening night draw is Raisin’ Kane, a National Film Board production on its premiere release tour across Canada. The documentary follows Toronto hip-hop act Citizen Kane through the trials and tribulations of launching their debut independent CD, Deliverance.
Spade and Blye, the two halves of the Juno-nominated duo, will be on hand for the movie and discussion and will perform afterwards at UW’s Bombshelter Pub. Also performing will be Toronto’s Blueprint Arts & Entertainment, an ensemble Of hip-hop artists
Three movies will be shown Saturday. The first, directed by David Sutherland (of CBC’s Drop the Beat fame) and Jennifer Holness, Speakers for the Dead, explores the history of a black cemetery that “disappeared” in a rural Southern Ontario small town.
Loyalties is another film that looks back — it chronicles two Canadian women who discover they share a common past — one womards ancestors were owned by the other’s. The discussion following these two films should be thought-provoking to say the least.
One feature of this festival of films is the facilitated discussions to be held after each screening. The directors of Speakers of the Dead will join Les MacKinnon, a member of the Old Durham Road Pioneer Cemetery Committee, Lennox Canore, of the “Get Reel” Black Film Festival, and University of Waterloo History Professor James Walker.
Saturday night’s feature is Another Planet, the story of a young black woman from Toronto who goes to live on a farm in Quebec as part of a Quebec-West Africa exchange program. Another feature that makes the films of this festival more meaningful is that they are all Canadian black experiences, helping to counteract the suffocating importation of culture flowing in from the United States. On the final day of the festival, one matinee will be shown: Bold, Black, and Beautiful. The post-film discussion here will be interesting; this film looks at the issue of hair and the black woman. This is a topic that brings together so much to do with culture and identity that the 45-minute film cannot cover it all and is sure to stimulate more questions than answers.
Sunday night is the grand finale: Virgo Night. Two films by award-winning Canadian director Clement Virgo, both set in Toronto, will be screened. The Planet of Junior Brown looks at the friendship that develops between an overweight, overeating young pianist and a skinny street kid. Rude was Virgo’s first feature film and won eight Genie nominations that year (1995). It ties together three separate stories from the streets of Toronto to tell a single story of life in the (Canadian) hood.
Martin Vilafana, who plays Junior Brown in the movie, and Karen King-Chigbo, producer of three of the festival’s films including Rude, will be in attendance to discuss some themes from the movies.
The most interesting discussion, however, may occur on the opening night. Citizen Kane, Raisin’ Kane director Allison Duke, and WLU Communications Professor David Black will speak to some of the issues raised in the documentary. Issues such as the lack of avenues to success for Black people in Canada, the way that mainstream media can serve to marginalize, and the independent, entrepreneurial attitude necessary to make it in the music industry.
Iced in Black does a good job of offering what it promises — Canadian Black experiences on film, something that there really isn’t much of available in the every day world. But thanks to the organizers of this festival, these seven films will be available this weekend. And the only admission cost is what you choose to donate — which will go to community youth programs.
The festival plays Friday through Sunday (February 9-11) at the University of Waterloo’s Davis Centre as part of Black History Month celebrations.
Other 2001 articles
Weekend festival shows black films
(UW Bulletin – by UW staff)
A different kind of Citizen Kane film
(Scott Gordon, UW Imprint)
*Preview of “Raisin’ Kane” film
Iced in black
(Nadia L. Hohn, UW Imprint)
*Post-festival commentary from the festival founder.
Listing of 2001 festival films, and guest speakers / schedule
- Raisin’ Kane (72min, Alison Duke, 2001)
– Watch: Short clip (4min) – Full film
- Speakers for the Dead (49min, David Sutherland & Jennifer Holness, 2000)
– Watch: Full film (NFB / YouTube)
- Loyalties (56min, Lesley Ann Patten, 1999)
– Watch: Full film
- Another Planet (90min, Christene Browne, 1999 – BILINGUAL)
– Watch: Trailer (YouTube / Vimeo)
- Black, Bold, and Beautiful (39min, Nadine Valcin, 1999)
– No known links for free online viewing
- The Planet of Junior Brown (91min, Clement Virgo, 1997)
– Watch: Full film, renamed version:, “Junior’s Groove”
- Rude (90min, Clement Virgo, 1995)
– Watch: Trailer
Black Film Festival Celebrates Year Two in Waterloo
By GREG MACDOUGALL | ECHO WEEKLY, February 7, 2002
(Text version of article follows image version)
When you hear the phrase “I am Canadian,” you might not think of a film festival, especially one celebrating Black History Month. But that is the theme of this year’s Iced In Black, an annual film festival that started last year at the University of Waterloo.
The purpose of the festival is to share black Canadian experiences on film, educating and entertaining, while at the same time giving Canadian black filmmakers some exposure for their creations.
Iced In Black has expanded in it’s second year. While Waterloo was last year’s only venue, Iced in Black was held in Toronto this past weekend, and will show in Ottawa and Montreal later this month as well as Edmonton in April. The eventual goal, says founding organizer Nadia Hohn, is to have the festival play cities across the country, from Halifax to Vancouver.
An interesting aspect of the festival is the question and answer sessions that happen after each screening. A panel of people with ties to the film, or to the film’s themes, engage the audience in an open, explorative discussion.
Friday’s opening night film is Genie award—winning Love Come Down, directed by Clemente Virgo. Coincidentally coming out on video this month, the movie tells the story of two brothers — one white, one black — who struggle to learn to come to term with their selves. Love Come Down features acting by Larenz Tate, Martin Cummins, Canadian R&B singer Deborah Cox, and MuchMusic VJ Rainbow Sun Francks among others.
This movie was the most popular in last weekend’s Toronto festival, where a packed house meant people were sitting in the aisles to take in the film.
The discussion following the movie allowed audience members to voice their thoughts. Some voiced concerns regarding how the film seemed to fall into stereotyped roles, citing how it was the black brother who had the drug addiction problem. Others pointed to how the film was representative of a new reality in Canada, racially mixed families. Others expressed surprise at what was revealed through Deborah Cox’s role in the movie.
At each location the festival plays, there is an opening night event. In Waterloo, perfoimances by local funk group Motor Booty Affair, Toronto spoken—word artist Dwayne Morgan, and U.W. hip hop duo Othemecal will highlight the affair at the U.W. Bombshelter pub (limited to U.W./W.L.U./Conestoga students plus guests).
On Saturday and Sunday, audiences will be treated to ten more films that bring the African—Canadian experience to the screen. Black Soul/ Ame Noire is a short bilingual animated film that took over four years to produce; it will show with Speak It!, a film that documents the struggles of black Nova Scotia students as they try to get black history taught in their high school.
Regent Park Focus is a collection of very short films, shot for the Super 8 Film Festival by various directors, that looks at life in Toronto’s Regent Park.
Saturday night’s triple—bill are all Reel Black Award winners or nominees. Charles Officer wrote, directed, and starred in When Morning Comes, which won the outstanding Canadian short film award at the Toronto International Film Festival. Tonya Lee Williams (Olivia from The Young and the Restless) is the producer of Maple, a “magic—realism” film.
Sunday afternoon’s Journey to Justice is a look back to the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, celebrating the unsung heroes of Canada’s Black Civil Rights movement. Journey to Justice was produced by Karen King—Chigbo.
The final movie being shown, My Father’s Hands, was made by the husband—wife team of Jennifer Holness and David Sutherland. This film has a very authentic flavour to it. It explores the tension between a father and his son, highlighting the differences between first and second generation Canadians.
One telling exchange happens when the son questions his father about why he had beat and abused him when he was younger, and the father responds with a comment about how everything is ‘abuse’ in Canada.
The entire Iced in Black festival is run by volunteers. Hohn received assistance and guidance in expanding the festival this year from Lennox Cadore, of the Get Reel Black Film Festival. The Get Reel festival is being held in Toronto in April, in what will be it’s fourth year.
One of the Waterloo organizers is Cherie Mordecai, who heard about last year’s Iced in Black a day before it took place. After seeing some of the films, she was ready to help out with the work required to make it happen again.
“I think the main reason I wanted to be a part of it this year was [Nadia’s] vision for what she wanted to do —- to show through film the experiences of black Canadians. I just figured there are so many stereotypical viewpoints of blacks in general, and the festival to me is something that doesn’t fall between those lines. I think it’s something important to have in the black community and I wanted to be a part of that.
“The goal of the event is to make people aware of different cultures. The month is dedicated to Black History and it’s just another form of celebrating our culture, yes, but also allowing people to share in our experiences, and I think that is what the festival is trying to do.”
She also talked of what impressed her the most from last year’s festival:
“You sit and watch the movies and, at least me being a black female, I can relate to a lot of the content in the movie. It’s not like felt I’m seeing anything new. What I found interesting was the reaction of others in the audience, who are not part of the black community. I think it was interesting just to get the different points of view and to have an open dialogue, because others are maybe not aware of my struggles or my experiences; likewise, I’m not aware of what others are thinking, and for me that was interesting.
“I remember there was one movie that talked about hair, and within the black community hair can be an issue — you know, type of hair, whatever — and to find that for others, others not within the black community, they didn’t see that as an issue at all. Even speaking to someone afterwards, he was saying, “I didn’t realize it was such a big issue, for me it’s just your hair. Your hair’s your hair.” But it has a deeper meaning within the black community.
“I think I liked the experience of the film festival because of that, because it got other people thinking about what might be so natural or common to them, but may not have the same meaning to others. Things were just so open and people really felt comfortable in speaking and I really appreciated hearing the different viewpoints.”
Audio PSA, 2002
This was broadcast on the campus/community radio station CKMS 100.3 FM, featuring two ICED… volunteers.
Other 2002 articles
Redefining Black Media
(Jamala Murray, UW Imprint)
Film festival proclaims “I am Canadian”
(Mark A. Schaan, UW Imprint)
Festival cities, 2002
Toronto, Waterloo, Montreal, Ottawa, and Edmonton – see archived tour schedule and locations
Listing of festival films, 2002
This selection of 13 was screened in each city. Three were featured as a French screening event.
They are listed here in alphabetical order:
- A Way Out (39min/53min, Christine Browne, 2001) – Watch preview (7min)
- Black Soul / Ame Noire (10min, Martine Chartrand, 2001 – BILINGUAL)
– Watch: English full film (NFB / Youtube) & Film complet en français (NFB / Youtube)
- Girls Who Say Yes (23min, Dawn Wilkinson, 2000) – Watch full film
– Watch clips: Couch scene (1:10); The kiss (0:31); Matt comes home (0:25).
- Honour Before Glory (66min, Anthony Sherwood) – Watch: Trailer / Full film
- Journey to Justice (47min, Roger McTair 2000) – Watch: Short clip / Full film
- Looking for my Pygmalion – Memories (77min, Boulou Ebanda de B’beri – BILINGUAL)
- Love Come Down (99min, Clement Virgo, 2000) – Watch trailer
- Maple (10min, Kai Soremekun, 2001)
- My Father’s Hands (27min, David Sutherland, 1999)
- Oumar 911 (53min, Stephane Drolet, 1998 – FRENCH) – Watch full en francais / in English
- Regent Park Focus: Super 8 Film Festival entries (35min total, Regent Park FOCUS, 2001)
- Chris Akinbodes (Eat,Sleep & dream…Basketball),
- Brandi Constain (Amaggedon & Conquer your Fears),
- Vinh Duong (The Race of Life),
- Jodi Forester (Happy Birthday Ed!),
- Minh Hoang (Crime Never Pays),
- Nigel Holdbrooke (Pedistrain Pissoffs),
- Adonis Huggins (Blind Date),
- Jackie Rose (Regent Park).
- Speak It! From the Heart of Black Nova Scotia (29min, Sylvia Hamilton, 1993) – Watch full film
- When Morning Comes (17min, Charles Officer, 2000)
*Curator’s note: I didn’t write an article about the festival in 2003.
In lieu of that, fittingly, here is the full-text ‘ABOUT’ description from the ICED… website that year:
The ICED IN BLACK Story
By NADIA L. HOHN, festival founder and organiser | ICED IN BLACK website
I’ve always had a love of films. Films represented far-away places and also places close to home. Whether going out to the movies or renting a home video, thanks for the power of film, one can be taken to both places. And what fun it is when you can take others with you. While in high school, I dabbled with the idea of filmmaking after such foreign works as Les Silences Du Palais and African American films like Jason’s Lyric inspired me.
In 1998, I moved to Waterloo, Ontario to attend a small Mennonite school called Conrad Grebel College at the University of Waterloo. There I studied psychology and tons of electives. Between my classes, I worked hard on creating venues to expose diversity. In 1999, I organised “Around the World in Four Days” and in February 2000, Black history month, I organized “Soulfood for the Eyes”, film festivals that I organised at my college. After screening “Soulfood…”, which featured eight African American films, I realised that the unique and significant experiences of African Canadians were being overlooked. Finding films by Black Canadian filmmakers is challenging for the general public. And it was too bad because these films, many having won awards in major film festivals, were so necessary because they were more representative of my own experience as a Canadian of African decent. By collaborating with staff and volunteers from the Waterloo Public Interest & Research Group (WPIRG) and students at the University of Waterloo who also shared my vision, we organized ICED IN BLACK: Canadian Black Experiences on Film.
ICED IN BLACK Through the Years
The first ICED… was held at the University of Waterloo in February 2001 and featured seven films and discussion panels with filmmakers, professors, community members, and students. The national premiere of the rapumentary Raisin’ Kane was the Opening Night feature, followed by discussions with director Alison Duke, producer Karen King-Chigbo, and Citizen Kane, and a live performance by Citizen Kane, the group featured in the film. Donations collected at the door were given to “The Spot”, a Kitchener, ON youth-run organization.
ICED IN BLACK 2002 featured I AM CANADIAN- thirteen films of diverse genres in English and French- and transported the African-Canadian experience to even more eyes. In the meantime, I had moved back to Toronto for teacher’s college. The year 2002 was the first time that the festival toured in Toronto, Waterloo, Montreal, and Ottawa. And it went so successfully so much so that this year, we have received so many requests by residents of bringing the festival to their community. The idea was thrown around a bit but without much hesitation, we quickly decided to go across Canada in 2003. We jumped in with both feet. “Here goes!”
ICED IN BLACK 2003 brings you “soul on ice: a celebration of the arts” a vibrant and creative program featuring over twenty works including animation, music videos, features, documentaries, and short films from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and interactive discussions with filmmakers and special guests. From live jazz performances and showgirls of the 1940s to dreams of stardom and breathtaking visual images, you are in store for quite a show. “soul on ice…” will tour Toronto, Waterloo, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax in February 2003. In March 2003, ICED IN BLACK will go west for the first time with “GET ICED…”– a condensed version of the longer festival. In many cities, there are also pre-festival events including spoken word shows leading up to the festival, lounges and opening parties, as well as closing night receptions.
The ICED IN BLACK 2003 team has grown increasingly this year. There are more organisers in each city. Organising is just one of the many ways that these special individuals have chosen to volunteer. Volunteers have given so generously and openly to the planning of this event. There are also new members of the ICED… committee- thanks to our new publicist and administrative assistant. We welcome their creativity, diligence, and ideas onto the ICED… team. There are also new sponsors this year which include Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) and CHUM Television. In addition, Get Reel Film Festival, Human Planet Media, Waterloo Public Interest Research Group (WPIRG), and the National Film Board continue to provide support. Thank you everyone because ICED… can do so much more thanks to your support.
As I have seen ICED… grow over the years, I appreciate more and more its forum for community learning and discussion. Both filmmakers and audience members have expressed how much these discussions mean to them. (Oh yes and the films are great too!) Keep this in mind while you watch a film screening and engage in discussion afterwards with a filmmaker, actor, community worker, professor, or even your neighbour. Don’t be shy. These films were meant to be discussed.
I hope that you will attend the screenings and participate in the discussions after each film.
Please refer to our website regularly as we continue to bring you the most recent updates.
ICED IN BLACK Objectives
- Gathering of School, Community, and Filmmakers. Iced In Black fosters an opportunity for filmmakers to interact with their audiences.
- Diversity. Iced In Black welcomes diversity in its volunteers, organisers, and viewers. We also encourage learning about the different experiences of the peoples that exist in Canada.
- Educate. To facilitate the learning about African Canadian experiences through film and panel discussions. This legacy began almost four hundred years ago with the first recorded settler from Africa Mathieu Da Costa. Since then they have contributed to Canada’s development and growth for centuries. Many Black Canadians are immigrants or first generation citizens of the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, and the United States. There is much to learn and to understand about this rich culture.
- Entertain. Iced In Black brings quality Canadian films to the big screen that we hope you will also enjoy.
- Venue for Black Canadian Filmmakers. Iced In Black remains a welcome and open forum where filmmakers, directors, producers, and actors can screen their films. Films that were either created by Black filmmakers or by filmmakers who have chosen to create films about the African Canadian community compose Iced In Black’s programming.
- Voice of Black Canadians. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the messages in the “moving pictures” of film must be infinite. Film is a permanent way to document the lives and creativity that we humans possess.
- Volunteerism. The year 2001 was declared “year of the volunteer” and in 2002, Canada launched an “I WILL Volunteer” campaign. Iced In Black is currently run by volunteers. Without their generous time and energy, this festival could not happen.
Other articles, 2003
Iced in Black: Now-national film festival had its start in Waterloo
(Christine Clarke, K-W Indymedia Blind Spot)
Iced In Black
(Melissa Dunne, UW Imprint)
Festival cities, 2003
Toronto || Waterloo || Ottawa || Montreal || Halifax || Edmonton || Vancouver || Victoria || Winnipeg
Full listing of festival films, 2003
*Some of these films were included in previous years, and not every film was screened in every location.
- PLANET OF JUNIOR BROWN (91min, Clement Virgo, 1997)
- COMING TO VOICE (52min, Glace Lawrence, 1999) – Watch preview (10min)
- DIVAS: LOVE ME FOREVER (81min, Edimburgo Cabrera & Anton Wagner, 2001) – Watch full film
- IN THE KEY OF OSCAR (94min, Syliva Sweeney and William R. Cunningham, 1992)
- PORTIA WHITE: THINK ON ME (50min, Sylvia Hamilton, 2000)
- ROLAND JEAN: A Modernist Portrait (22min, Michelle Anne Bess, 1999 – BILINGUAL)
- SHOW GIRLS / LES GIRLS (52min, Meilan Lam, 1998/1999 – BILINGUAL) – Watch full film (EN)
- THE PHOTOGRAPHER: An Artist’s Journey (45min, Anton Wagner, 1997) – Watch full film
- OLIVER JONES IN AFRICA ( … )
- JENI LEGON – LIVING IN A GREAT BIG WAY ( … )
- BLACK SOUL/AME NOIRE (10min, Martine Chartrand, 2000 – BILINGUAL)
- BLIND DATE (6:36, Sarah Michelle Brown, 2002)
- CHOCOLATE CITY (25min, Stefan Verna, 2002)
- DESTINY (20min, Laurie Lambert, 2001)
- LAST WITNESS (10min, Emmanuel Kedini, 2001) – Watch in full (Youtube / Archive.org)
- MAKING CHANGE (18 minutes, Colina Philips, 1994)
- SHORT HYMN_SILENT WAR (20min, Charles Officer, 2002)
- STYLE OF MY SOUL (2:30 Experimental, Kai Soremekun) – Watch in full
Music Video Series:
- Erskine “Skin” Forde (Vancouver, BC)
- “Visual Effect”
- “Hip Hop Planet”
- Errol Boucaud (Montreal, QC)
- “Struggle Report”
- “Dans Mon Coeur”
- Masani Montague (Toronto, ON)
- “Serious Judgement”
- Jim Morrison (Toronto, ON)
- “Keep Movin’ (featuring Terneille Burrows)”
- Chris Scott (Toronto, ON)
- “Dancing On Lily Pads”
- Dawn Wilkinson (Guelph, ON)
- “Dreams & Landscapes”
- Butta Babees (Montreal, QC)
- TAILSPINNERS 2 (Animated, 2002)
- Christopher Changes His Name (6:23, Cilia Sawadogo)
- Christopher, Please Clean Up Your Room! (6:58, Vincent Gauthier)
- The Magic of Anansi (6:30, Jamie Mason)
- Works by Seth-Adrian Harris
2022 reflection from ICED…’s founder
Nadia L. Hohn posted a short blog reminiscing / reflecting upon the festival, twenty years later.
“… I don’t talk very much about #ICEDINBLACK. By 2003, the model wasn’t sustainable. That I understand now.
But at 25, I felt like it was a huge failure. I was financially broke, burned out, and felt humiliated bc the persons who doubted/laughed at my festival turned out to be right. Afterwards, I avoided the #film and #arts scenes. It took me several years to recover.
But if I could speak to that young woman now, I would hug her, send her on vacation, and tell her how proud I am of her…”
Nadia is now an award-winning “writer of colourful realism in non-fiction, middle-grade, picture book, young adult, and book reviews about Carnivals, music, media, diversity, and make-believe.”
Full database of ICED IN BLACK festival films
Click to open this table in a new tab.
Note: The database is still a bit rough, and more work is needed – especially on the 2003 films sections.
It is grouped by the year each film was first screened at ICED… and then alphabetically by film name.
Each entry can be viewed in expanded ‘full record’ detail, by clicking on the blue arrows that appear upon hovering the cursor over it.
A note from this archive’s curator – and feedback
First, any feedback – especially from filmmakers or others featured in this archive – can be sent by email (icon top-right of this website), as a comment at the bottom of this page, or to me @GregEqEd on Twitter.
I plan to expand this note in the very near future, but for now, an excerpt from an article about the Black Lives CDN Syllabus (which is explained more in the next section):
“Merray Gerges, Canadian Art: Could you speak to the potential of digital labour and knowledge-sharing as an anti-oppression gesture?
Dr. Cassandra Lord: I’m glad you use the term “labour,” as digital archiving is indeed labour which should be compensated, but often goes unpaid. The cultural producers that created the work — writers, artists, cultural critics, academics — used their labour to create new forms of knowledge often hidden from the historical narratives that have tended to exclude BIPOC. What we were doing was providing an archive which has always been there, but goes unnoticed, and is not valued.”
I do want to note that this archive has been a while coming, as I was looking into it around Black History Month 2021, which was the 20th anniversary of the first year of the festival. 2023 is the last year that is a ’20th anniversary’ of ICED… so it is good to have this published now.
This is very much a work in progress, and the format it is now initially presented in, isn’t necessarily what it must remain. But having it public and accessible here and now is, in my opinion, better than keeping it as a bunch of files on my computer and ideas in my mind.
I had previously approached Nadia with the idea about creating this archive, and had sent some rough ideas of what I was planning in February of this year, but this archive project up until this point hasn’t been a collaboration, so any errors or problems are strictly my – and the muses’ – doing.
We are planning to touch base in June, and she has additional materials – including from the events in other cities – so there are likely to be significant additions to this archive over the summer.
Also of note, is that when I was researching for this archive, I learned that WPIRG – the fesival’s main original sponsor – had created a large archive of its 40+ years of work on campus and in the community, after being forced to close due to loss of funding via a referendum on the WPIRG student levy fee. The archive is described on the WPIRG website, with some sample materials available there. However, the full physical archive somehow didn’t ever get handed over to the UWaterloo Library, who had agreed to host it in perpetuity. So the WPIRG archive is somewhere, assembled but not accessible. I’ve made some effort to figure out where it is and see if it can be provided to the UW Library to make it accessible; hopefully this will come to fruition.
Black Lives CDN Syllabus
#BlackLivesCDNSyllabus was/is a crowdsourcd “collection of multiple resources to help illuminate the context of black life and black history in Canada” sparked by a hashtag from Anthony Morgan in 2016.
The Google document, maintained by Huda Hassan, contains listings and links of books, essays, films, music, zines, and artists across disciplines, a well as media reports about the crowdsourced initiative.
(*I don’t think the document has been updated much since after the first year.)
A few Canadian university libraries also developed related #BlackLivesCDNSyllabus curated collections (links to come).
It was #BlackLivesCDNSyllabus that first prompted me to dig up and scan the two articles I’d written about ICED…, and I think that was what led to the idea of putting together this larger ICED… archive.
The State of Blackness / Black Canadian films database
The State of Blackness: From Production To Presentation was a two-day 2014 interdisciplinary conference event in Toronto to “dialogue and, in effect, problematize the histories, current situation, and future state of black diasporic artistic practice and representation in Canada.”
The State of Blackness website project has continued under the leadership of Dr. Andrea Fatona, OCAD University, as also “a repository for information about ongoing research geared toward making visible the artistic production and dissemination of works by Black Canadian cultural producers,” aligned with / part of the more recently-established Centre for the Study of Black Canadian Diaspora at OCADU.
One part of the State of Blackness project was a 2017 project in collaboration with Vtape, where researcher Elisha Lim created a comprehensive database of Black Canadian films and video dating back to 1957, spanning mainly through to 2015.
The database is online as a Google Spreadsheet, and it is linked at the very top of the “State of Blackness Database Research: Phase 1” web page that offers a more detailed description of that research.
Early in 2021, I had reached out to Dr. Fatona about the possibility of collaboration and was well-received, but busy-ness on both our ends as well as my own eventual assessment of my capacity for working on this ICED… archive, resulted in my decision to simply include the link to the State of Blackness / Vtape database here. I do think it is a valuable resource for Black Canadian film, and that it is not widely-known about (even I’ve experienced difficulty attempting to re-locate the specific page that has the direct database link, so including it here can make that simpler for others and myself).