Exploring Race Through Real-life Drama at Toronto Film Festival

Posted by Sidney, 08 Sep 16

The Toronto International Film Festival is exploring some of the real-life dramas which are centered on race and racial tension. There is a story on slavery, the college life of Barack Obama and one on Sir Seretse Khama - an African king’s fight to be with a white British woman.

The Toronto Film Festival is a 10-day event which starts on Thursday. People are excited about the film “The Birth of a Nation” which premieres on Friday. The story is about a preacher Nat Turner who was a slave and how he led a rebellion in the antebellum south. The film brings to the spotlight the heightened brutality endured by the slaves.

“The Birth of a Nation” was hailed as Oscars material after its debut at the Sundance Film Festivals in January. However in the past month, things have been going south for it because the star of the film who is also the writer, director and producer Nate Parker was tried and acquitted on rape charges in 2001.

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The film premieres when the United States is grappling with tension brought by the Black Lives Matter movement protesting police brutality that seems to be targeted at black community. There is also the issue of #OscarsSoWhite hashtag against the film industry which was sparked by the fact that this year’s Oscars only featured white nominees.

Piers Handling, chief executive of the Toronto international Film Festival said: “Filmmakers are attracted to controversy, they’re attracted to issues, debates of the day, and the racial debate is certainly one of the key ones”.

“Barry” is one of the other fiims, centered on young Barack Obama’s college life and how he navigated social and racial issues while studying at Columbia University in 1981. “Loving” and “A United Kingdom” explore the true stories of interracial couples fighting for their love.

“A United Kingdom” stars British actor Davis Oyelowo playing Sir Seretse Khama, from Botswana, who went against his traditions and married Rosamund Pike, a white British woman in 1947. Their love stirred a diplomatic crisis.

a united kingdom

“You can look back and say ‘yes, that’s 1947 and so much has changed,’ but I think for couples who are in interracial relationships, they may argue maybe not so much has changed”, director of A United Kingdom, Amma Ahsante told Reuters.

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