TORONTO, Ontario June 10, 2020 (PRIDE) — Mr. Jane and Finch, a documentary that explores the intriguing life of venerable, Guyana-born community activist, Winston LaRose — who dedicated the last 25 years, advocating on behalf of the troubled, racism-plagued community of Jane and Finch in Toronto — copped two Canadian Screen Awards, late last month.
Directed, co-produced and co-written by Ngardy Conteh George, and co-produced and co-written by Alison Duke, the documentary was honoured with the Canadian Screen Awards’ Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary and Best Writing in a Documentary.
The Canadian Screen Awards (CSA) — a celebration of Canadian visual storytelling and the people, who bring these stories to life — recognize the year’s best in Canadian English- and French-language television, film and Digital Media. The CSAs recognize and champion the authentic voices and universal themes that resonate in Canada, and beyond.
It is a subsidiary of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, established in 1979, as a national, non-profit, professional association, dedicated to the promotion, recognition, and celebration of exceptional achievements in Canadian film, television and digital media.
With gentrification high up on the political agenda, LaRose, affectionately named Mr. Jane and Finch, decided to challenge the traditional powers for the City Councillor seat of ward 7. His unsuccessful run for public office, reveals how deeply-racial politics have plagued the area.
Over-policing, without accountability, and a perennial lack of social services in the area, has further marginalized Blacks and people of colour in the community.
“When I was capturing Winston’s story, I had the opportunity to see what is happening in the lives of so many that live in the Jane and Finch community. Not everything made it into the film, it’s not surprising that right now, this film and the issues discussed are so timely,” recounts Conteh George.
Mr. Jane and Finch has had much success on the festival circuit, both in Canada and the United States — from Yorkton, Saskatchewan; the Toronto Black Film Festival; the BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia; and BronzeLens Film Festival in Atlanta.
Educational institutions, such as the historically-Black Morehouse College in Atlanta, and Humber College in Toronto, have also screened the documentary.
Earlier this month, Mr. Jane and Finch opened the Timehri Film Festival in Georgetown, Guyana, an annual film festival, aimed at showcasing the work of Guyanese and Caribbean filmmakers in the region and Diaspora.
Mr. Jane and Finch was released last year, “but when you watch it now, it’s impactful, on a very visceral level. Seeing people in the community working to make a positive change, with very, very few resources and support was quite sad,” related the documentary’s director.
“They should be acknowledged for leading the change in their community and given the proper resources to make those changes. I am proud to have captured that moment in time of Canadian history, and have the affirmation from peers in the Canadian Academy of Cinema and Television.”
Mr. Jane and Finch, which continues to be streamed on CBC Gem, is the property of OYA Media Group, a Black woman-owned production company, founded by Duke and Conteh George, who, together, have over 40 years experience producing documentaries.
They formed their company, after collaborating on several film projects and found a creative synergy in working together.
Canada’s leading educational distributor, McIntyre Media, has acquired the Canadian distribution rights for Mr. Jane and Finch, making it available for high school, university and college educators, as well as libraries, to use for their online learning, regarding topics, such as social justice, civil engagement, racism, gentrification and Pan-Africanism, amongst other timely social issues.