The 10th Annual Montreal International Black Film Festival (MIBFF) kicks off today and we have your complete festival guide. This year’s festival is exhibiting a wide variety of narrative, documentary, and short films from around the globe and even includes a special visit from visionary director Spike Lee. We’ve curated our five favourite festival picks below:

Hope1 (Copier)

Hope

(Boris Lojkine, France, 2013, French w/ English Subs)
September 23, 7pm, Cinéma Impérial ($25)

The opening film, Hope, by Boris Lojkine is bound to be one of the most talked about films of the festival. It has already caught international attention by winning the SACD award for best screenplay at Cannes’ Semaine de la Critique. Hope is a steadfast portrayal of young man Léonard’s migration from Cameroon to Europe. His trek across the Sahara Desert is interrupted when he rescues Hope, a Nigerian woman, and they attempt to connect with each other amidst the hostile conditions. Hope is, indeed, a moving tale of the power of the human spirit and the perfect film to open the MIBFF festival.

spikelee

Tribute to Spike Lee + Da Sweet Blood of Jesus

(Spike Lee, USA, 2014, English)
September 24, 7pm, Cinéma Impérial ($40)

Spike Lee, a revolutionary director, producer, and screenwriter, has descended upon Montreal for this year’s festival. At this special event, the MIBFF will award Lee with the inaugural “Pioneer Award” in recognition of his magnificent achievements in the arena of Modern Black Cinema. This special event will culminate in the Canadian premiere of Lee’s newest Kickstarter-funded film Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, a horror comedy about “human beings who are addicted to blood.” This “funny, sexy and bloody” film (in the words of Lee himself) will be followed by a Q&A with the acclaimed director.

FIRE IN THE BLOOD2 (Copier)

Fire in the Blood

(Dylan Mohan Gray, India, 2013, English w/ English Subs)
September 25, 9pm, Cinéplex Odéon du Quartier Latin ($10)

This riveting documentary explores the devastating tale of how Western pharmaceutical companies intentionally prevented low-cost anti-AIDS drugs from reaching Africa and other parts of the global south during the late 1990s. This dehumanizing blockade resulted in over ten million needless deaths from untreated cases of HIV/AIDS, but was also met with an inspirational fight back. This story (as of yet untold) will certainly become an impassioned talking point for this year’s festival-goers.

Jollywood (Copier)

Movie Talk Jollywood: Haïti Optimist

(Étudiants de Ciné Institute, Haïti, 2014, Creole & French w/ English Subs)
September 26, 9pm, Former NFB Cinema ($10)

If Haïtian cinema interests you (and why wouldn’t it?), be sure to check out this collection of narrative shorts by the students of Ciné Institute, Haïti’s only film school. You may recognize them from one of their recent projects – the Reflektor music video for Montreal’s own Arcade Fire. This evening of shorts will be followed by a discussion with David Belle, the founder of Ciné Institute.

HALF OF A YELLOW SUN (Copier)

Half of a Yellow Sun

(Biyi Bandele, UK/Nigeria, 2013, English w/ French Subs)
September 28, 7pm, Grande Bibliothèque ($25)

This year’s closing film is based on a 2006 novel of the same name by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Half of a Yellow Sun chronicles two sisters, Olanna and Kainene, as they navigate through the horrors of the 1967-70 Nigerian Civil War. Premiering at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, this film was described by critic Rasha Salti as “a chilling, lucid, and emotionally gripping drama from contemporary Nigerian cinema, and a film that honours the fearless intelligence and strength of the country’s women.”

Buy your tickets in advance on the Montreal International Black Film Festival website. All photo credits to MIBFF.