fbpx

C’est Moi: Her story, our story

17 May 2017

As we celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary this year, a new short-film by emerging Canadian filmmaker Howard J. Davis asks us to examine the ghosts in the closet of our history. His film C'est Moi explores the story of Marie-Josèphe Angélique, an enslaved African in 18th century New France, who became an emblem of resilience against slavery in Canada. The 9-minute film will have its Canadian premiere in Toronto on Sunday, May 28th as part of the Censured in Canada Film Festival.

“I think it is important to be accountable for our actions and recognize all injustices of our history as opposed to marginalizing and erasing it from our collective identity,” Howard said.

Exploring the past through a modern lense

“The film is a poetic retelling of Angelique's history using music, spoken word, and visual film elements,” said the British-born Canadian actor, singer, dancer and budding filmmaker who identifies as mixed-raced. The story straddles old and modern-day Montreal, itself celebrating the 375th anniversary of its founding this year, as Angélique, a Joan of Arc in her own right, is seen navigating through the present day streets where the events of Friday, June 21, 1734 leading to her trial, torture and execution for allegedly burning down the city took place.

Official Trailer - C'est Moi (English Subtitles) from Howard J. Davis on Vimeo.

“I find it's an interesting juxtaposition of past and present. But for the most part it's her alone, talking, and confessing her alleged crime,” said Howard. As the city embarked on restoration projects of these old buildings and monuments, the filmmaker laments that some of this important history is at risk of being also erased in the restoration. “ I wanted to pose the question,” he said. “It’s a declaration. … There's a plaque in Montreal that has been demolished which I actually showed in the film. In a nutshell, that's how it came into fruition.”

Howard’s journey of exploration into his heritage began as he studied pre-colonial African history and the African Diaspora while attending Ryerson University, alongside his acting degree classes. He sought to delve deeper into Canada’s involvement in slavery, which appears to have disappeared from the nation’s collective consciousness, and find a way to bring this forgotten history to the forefront.

Finding the medium

After eight years of development, from concept to realization ultimately as a short film, Howard explored options of telling this story in various forms. “I had written the beginnings of a story at Ryerson theatre school — which I thought would be a dance piece. Then I started adding music to that, thinking its form would be in a stage play with music, to then moving to a musical form, where I wrote some songs for the piece,” as he shared.

But when he made the decision do the film version, the project was completed in the span of a few months. He wore many hats from scoring the music himself, developed for the musical version he explored, to teaching himself video editing on platforms like Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere.

As he was ready to delve into the film project, he was lucky to know a playwright, Mike Payette, who was working on the same story for the stage in Montreal. The actress playing Angélique in the late Lorena Gale’s Black Theatre Workshop production in Montreal was Haitian-Canadian performing artists Jenny Brizard. Howard immediately asked Mike if he could approach Jenny to play the role of Angélique in his film as well.

The film has Jenny, for the most part of it, walking amongst a modern-day Montreal. Howard wasn’t able to close off streets to shoot the scenes; so that was ended up being both a challenge and opportunity. We see people walking around, unaware that they’re contemporary extras in a work bringing historical context to a modern lens.

 

Toronto Screening Info:

Screening on Sunday May 28
Censured in Canada Film Festival 2017
Location: CineCycle
129 Spadina Ave (b/w Richmond & Adelaide)
Toronto, ON M5V 3A8
Canada
$10

Buy tickets

 

Related article from the archives:

Our Home and Slave Land?

 

Comments powered by CComment

Search Site

Latest Articles

May 14, 2021

Where are you from? A Black Canadian's search for identity through discovering her African roots

in Commentaries by News Editor
Rachel Décoste is a writer, educator, social policy expert, and Diversity &… Read more >>
Apr 25, 2021

Buying a pre-construction home?

in Finance and Money by News Canada
(NC) Buying a new home is a big commitment and it comes with a lot of… Read more >>
Apr 25, 2021

Demystifying your paycheque

in Careers & Workplace by News Canada
(NC) Whether you’re a barista in a café or working for a longstanding family… Read more >>
Apr 24, 2021

3 things parents should teach their kids about money

in Finance and Money by News Canada
(NC) Parents have a key role to play in teaching their kids about money and… Read more >>
Apr 24, 2021

Working from home? There’s a tax deduction for that

in Careers & Workplace by News Canada
(NC) The COVID-19 pandemic means that many of us have been working from home… Read more >>

Latest on Instagram

Featured Events

No events found.

Join Our Mailing List

Advertise with us

Subscribe to podcast

Find a Job

AfroToronto.com participates in affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn a commission if you purchase an item featured on our site. These affiliate links, along with advertisements, support us and they come to no expense for you.

Media Kit | Member Access

Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | Terms and Conditions

Copyright © 2005-2021 Culture Shox Media. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated.