African Film Festival canceled again

By Stephen Weir

The Toronto African Film and Music Festival that was scheduled to take place this weekend in downtown Toronto, has been canceled.

The organizers had planned to showcase the works of filmmakers and musicians from over 50 countries in Africa, United States of America and the Caribbean, with the emphasis on film and music produced with strong links to the African continent.

In a Facebook message, festival organizer, Paris Roger blamed the shutdown on a lack of financing.

“I called and asked for help from over 2,000 people and companies, and nothing. No support other than good luck, or I will buy tickets to come out, which they never do,” he said.

The festival had originally been slated to be held in August, but was postponed to give the organizers more time to raise funds, which they were again unable to do.

This is the second year that the festival has had to be canceled.

“I am canceling the festival for 2017,” Roger continued. “We fell short by only $3,500 in our fundraising, but (over the last couple of weeks I) could not get any nibbles. We were short over $10,000 back in August, and now only short $3,500.

“This money was needed to cover upfront costs of the film fest,” Roger said.

The festival had booked the Kingsway Community Life Centre (formerly the Underground Theatre) in a basement facility on Spadina Avenue in Toronto’s Chinatown district.

There were over a dozen feature-length and short African, American and Caribbean films scheduled to be shown over the weekend.

Tourments d’amour (Torments of Love), a film made in Guadeloupe with Caribbean and Guyana actors, along with The Cursed Ones, a feature drama from Ghana were two films that had generated a pre-festival buzz.

“The festival is not dead, just canceled for 2017. All my staff and I can do is plan for 2018 and keep going. This festival is part of my life, that I will never let go, and I will never give up,” vowed Roger.