“We got involved in the Black History Month celebrations in 2009 to raise awareness on sexual diversity in the Black community and to fight homophobia, so far we have been successful because there has not been any backlash, but I know we still have a long way to go,” says Laurent Maurice Lafontant, president of the foundation that organizes the month-long Afro LGBTQ+ festival of film and art, which runs from February 12 to March 12.
Lafontant, a fine arts graduate out of Concordia University who has been involved in the LGBTQ+ community since 2008, says these days it’s always difficult to judge people’s reaction on the issues because “nowadays some people try to be open, even though they’re not comfortable.”
But he points that the Afro LGBTQ community is growing into a strong resilient force with a long history of advocacy in Canada as documented in a recently released film out of Toronto.
The film ‘Our Dance of Revolution,’ which was released in 2019, looks back 40 years and “tells the story of how Black queer folks in Toronto faced every adversity, from invisibility to police brutality, and rose to become a vibrant, triple-snap-fierce community,” as stated in its trailer.
As such, Lafontant, who is the director of two short documentaries, Be Yourself (2012) and Beyond Images (2014) both of which shine a light on Black LGBTQ+ people in Montreal sees the Massimadi festival as an important platform in spreading awareness on the community’s presence and vitality in Canada.
This year for its 13th edition the festival‘s theme is Resistance, and it is supported by TD through the TD Ready Commitment.
Massimadi 2021 offers participants a virtual amalgam of cultural experiences that include: 30 movies (both full length and short films); a night of comedy; a speed dating evening exclusively for queer women, an art exhibition as well as art-therapy workshops and panel discussions.
Organizers boast of a wide diversity of films coming from nine countries including Namibia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, the United Kingdom, France, Finland, Italy, Australia, and the USA.
Among the highlights, this year are several films and documentaries that are featured under Africa in Love theme, including:
* Kapana the first Namibian film to feature a love story between two men and one of the few openly LGBTQ movies to be produced and filmed on the African continent.
*Africa is also featured in Limelight, a 12 minutes fiction out of the USA,
that showcases two young women finding love and comfort in the midst of raging social unrest and political chaos in the Republic of Congo.
* Two documentaries Libertà and Touching Elephant focus on LGBT people who feel compelled to run away from the continent in search of new homelands where they can find expressions to their identities and passions.
- Another documentary The Right Girls offers a glimpse of three trans women who were among the more than 7,000 people in the first Central American migrant caravan that made its way to the U.S. border in 2018.
- In the 2019 documentary Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland Story out of Great Britain, festival audiences are introduced to a 74-year-old transsexual on an international promoting an album she produced three decades earlier.
Lafontant says the 2021 lineup of events is available to all Montrealers to be enjoyed in the comfort of their homes as part of what festival organizers hope to be a respite from the drudgeries of the past year as a result of the still rampaging global pandemic.
Looking forward, he says organizers hoping to build on some of the many collaborations that they have had in the past with groups such as BTW, Vue Afrique Maison d’Haiti, and the Afro-Urbaine Danse Festival.
And they’re especially thankful for the support from various sectors of society, identifying TD Bank as a foundational pillar in their efforts to build a future in which all groups can find fulfillment.
All events and more information at: www.massimadi.ca