I am generally the type of person who likes to plan ahead and often finds excuses not to accept new invitations when they come at the last minute. This is something I really want to change, so yesterday when a friend asked me if I wanted to go to the Montreal International Black Film Festival with her, instead of asking for details so I could find an excuse to not go, I simply said yes.

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I was already going downtown for a dry run, so I spent the afternoon editing and writing Shards Of Glass, then got changed and met Elysia outside the Imperial Theater. Not only were we going to see a movie I was actually looking forward to, it was the opening film of the festival.

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We got previews of the awesome films that are a part of the festival, as well as some key players telling us what the festival is all about. The evening itself was divided into two parts, with the first part being a Tribute to Clement Virgo, who was introduced by Adrian Holmes. I had looked him up briefly before coming, and saw that he was involved in some really heavy and inspiring content, such as The Book of Negroes. I am not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I have a habit of watching really emotional movies that make me cry on airplanes. That mini-series was one such example.

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The second half was a screening of Maya Angelou And Still I Rise, with an introduction by Rita Coburn Whack, one of the directors. I am not really that big a fan of documentaries in general. That isn’t to say there aren’t a few, like Blackfish or Bowling for Columbine, that have really affected me. I mostly prefer seeing fictional suffering to the real thing. But I think that is the point of documentaries; to show you the hard truths you don’t want to see. The Maya Angelou documentary I saw last night was heartbreaking at times, uplifting at others, and sometimes the entire theater broke out in laughter. I first discovered Dr. Angelou in CEGEP, when we read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, but seeing this film…she was so much more than an author and a poet. She was an activist, a feminist, a vibrant woman and a force to be reckoned with. She was flawed, as we all are, but she didn’t apologize for it. She owned it and she forgave herself, just as she forgave others for their own shortcomings. This film gave me a much deeper understanding of this incredible woman, and taught me a bit about being a better human being.

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The night ended with a Q & A with the director, run by Fabienne Colas, which was incredibly insightful. All in all it was a wonderful night with some pretty awesome people, all thanks to Elysia. And to saying yes to things that scare me 😉

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

-Maya Angelou

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