By Stephen Weir
Filmmaker and head of the CaribbeanTales Film Festival, Francis Anne Solomon announced this week that she has begun work on a feature film based on the book In the Black, the autobiography of businessman Denham Jolly.
Jolly is best known as the founder of Canada’s first Black radio station, Flow 93.5 and the publisher of the now defunct Contrast newspaper.
“In the Black won the Toronto Book Award in 2017. In it he tells the story of his journey from Jamaica to Canada in the 1950s, through his struggles to overcome racism and become an extremely successful businessman, activist, philanthropist, and publisher.
Interviewed by The Caribbean Camera at the launching of his autobiography, Jolly said “to the white readers of this book, I have to stress that for Black people the basic and continuing infringements of our rights are not mere distractions. Canadians like to congratulate themselves over our diversity, but … ”
Quoting from his award-winning book, he said discriminatory policing (from carding to DWB) “remain part of our day-to-day life and casts a long shadow.”
If the CaribbeanTales Film Group biopic is true to the book, there will be many names and faces in it that are well known. in Toronto.
The 80-plus year old businessman has fought the good fight for race and equality with former Member of Parliament Jean Augustine, civil rights lawyer Charles Roach and activist Dudley Laws. His Contrast published people like Cecil Foster, Arnold Auguste, and Jamaican politician Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange.
FLOW 93.5 launched many personalities including Nathan Downer, Farley Flex, Dr. Jay, Mark Strong, Jemeni, Spex and Hip Hop’s Mastermind.
Jolly has never backed away from fighting for what he knows is right. He writes about demonstrating when a mentally disturbed Black man, Lester Donaldson, was shot by police. That street action launched the Black Action Defense Committee, which took on the city to fight police killings of people of colour.
“There probably is a file with my name on it,” said Jolly. “In 1991 the police were clearly obsessed with nailing the hides of uppity Blacks (like me) to the wall.”
Jolly is a founding member of the Black Business and Professional Association, and the Black Action Defense Committee, to name just two organizations in which he has been actively involved..
A self-made millionaire, Jolly paid off the mortgage for the Jamaican Canadian Centre last year and continues to work behind the scenes to support community causes.
Frances-Anne Solomon is an award-winning filmmaker, producer, curator and entrepreneur. A 2019 Director member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, her third feature film Hero Inspired by the Extraordinary Life and Times of Mr. Ulric Cross has received wide critical acclaim on its worldwide tour, that includes theatrical runs in both Canada and U.K.
Solomon is the producer and director on the movie project. “Denham Jolly’s ten-year battle to win a license for Canada’s first black radio station, is the stuff of urban legend. In the Black shows Canada from a unique point of view. It’s the story of Canada herself, through a fresh and important lens. Our audiences are hungry for authentic stories about Canadian life: Real lives of real people who came to this country and made it their home.”
Her CaribbeanTales Media Group produces, markets and sells Caribbean-themed film and television content for global audiences. It includes the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival, CaribbeanTales Incubator Program, CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution CaribbeanTales-TV and CaribbeanTalesFlix.