Canadian premiere of Brown Girl Begins at the Art Gallery of Ontario on Saturday


Ti-Jeanne (Mouna Traoré) wears the power controlling vest that Bruk Foot Sam crafted with Director Sharon Lewis inserted) Photos by: Brendan Adam- Zwelling

Film director Sharon Lewis  recalls the day when she first saw the  novel, Brown Girl in the Ring, at her favourite  bookstore  in Los Angeles.

‘From the moment I read the first page, I knew then that I had to bring this bold and unique story of a young black teenage heroine growing up in a post apocalyptic Toronto to the screen,” she says.

At  the time  she  was studying  film

Portrait of Mami (Shakura S’Aida)

directing at UCLA.

It  took her 15 years to  finance the film and bring it to the  screen.

Come  Saturday, the  Canadian premiere of Brown Girl Begins,  as the film is titled , will take place at  Jackman Hall  in  the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto.( There will be two screenings –  the first at 6 p.m. and the second at 9 p.m.)

Brown  Girl Begins  is a story about “a young black woman who is trapped in a world forced upon her. Ti-Jeanne, a reluctant priestess, must resurrect Caribbean spirits and survive the possession ritual that killed her mother or her people will die.”

The fantasy elements of Brown Girl Begins have their basis in Caribbean folklore, inspired by Brown Girl in the Ring, the award winning  novel  written by Nalo Hopkinson.

Papa Legba (Nigel Shawn Williams)

The cast: Mouna Traore, Emmanuel Kabongo, Shakura S’Aida, Nigel Shawn Williams, Rachael Crawford, Hanna Chantee, Measha Brueggereosman and David Rudder,

After the first screening of the film on Saturday, Sharon Lewis. author Nalo Hopkinson and the stars of the film, will  be present at a gala reception at the AGO with performances by musicians featured in the film, including  calypsonian David Rudder, blues dynamo Shakura S’Aida and opera singer Measha Brueggergosman.