I kept looking at Danny Glover, trying to recollect where I knew him from. Did we meet at a concert, at an office party, or was he an ex-boyfriend of my friend?
Someone called out his name. Glover turned, smiled and waved. The posse of photographers swarmed and jostled each other for the shots. It felt like I was trapped in the middle of a rugby scum. And I was the only woman in there. And the smallest person too. A photographer pushed me in front of him, and hovered over me so that I too could take a snap. I was playing paparazzi. These guys were professionals.
That was a years ago at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). I learned then that I was not cut out to be an entertainment blogger. After spending hours memorizing the faces of visiting film stars I had not recognized the one right in front of me.
It got worst.
At a special screening I did not get why the slim guy entering the discussion stage, wearing a suit, dark glasses, and get this, gleaming white running shoes, got a standing ovation. It was Taye Diggs.
TIFF – the world’s biggest film festival – starts this week in Toronto. Black film stars are regulars at TIFF. I can still remember the champagne style buzz when Chiwetel Ejiofor walked the red carpet. Lupita Nyong’o was then a beautiful but unknown starlet. Their film 12 Years A Slave went on to make box office and Oscar history.
There are plenty of films with Black actors for viewing at this year’s TIFF and some of the stars will be in town. Look out for Halle Berry, Idris Elba, Kevin Hart and Octavia Spencer.
TIFF films are categorized by region, and not by race or ethnicity. I scrolled through several regions to find what I was looking for. I wanted films with Black actors, shot by Black directors, with happy endings.
So here is my list of six happy Black films at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival:
- The Royal Hibiscus Hotel. Will the cook open her restaurant or will the rich playboy burn her dreams? Got to find out in this Nigerian romantic comedy.
- Felicité. A Senegalese film about a plucky Kinshasa nightclub owner learning how to ask for help, before her club goes under.
- Looking for Oum Kulthum. An Egyptian-Persian film about a legendary singing diva.
- Sergio and Sergei. How a Cuban radio operator connects with a Russian astronaut stuck in space as both wait out time.
- Sheikh Jackson. A comedy on how the death of Michael Jackson shakes a huge fan – an Egyptian imam.
- Grace Jones. A documentary on the Jamaican-American model, singer and out and out diva.