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Black filmmakers bring personal stories to N.S. festival

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As someone who grew up in foster child care, Kimber Wesley has spent a lot of time reflecting on her formative years, especially since she became a mother. Wesley wants to use her experiences to inspire other people who are stepping into motherhood.

Wesley’s new film, “Mum,” features herself and her children as she explores her background. Her film is one of four made by Black filmmakers based in Nova Scotia for the upcoming eighth Halifax Black Film Festival.

“’Mum’ is about me becoming a mother and reflecting on my childhood growing up in foster care,” Wesley said. “I wanted to create awareness about what it’s like to be a parent after growing up in foster care. It’s so personal to me, it took awhile for me to accept the things I’ve been through but it’s also been very healing.

“I hope people become inspired by it, particularly women who want to be mothers.”

Wesley’s fellow filmmakers also used their films to explore their own histories and interests, transforming them into universal stories for audiences.

Hailey Ramsey’s film, “From the Ashes,” focuses on her life as a mixed-race person in Canada and how that influenced her personal journey.

“It’s about how I found my voice along that journey and the perspective on the hardest part of the journey,” Ramsey said. “Basically from childhood I had odds backed up against me in many ways. I had to face a lot of things, it was very unique because it was like a push and pull.

“What people saw in me was that I was going to end up dead, or something, young. I did die in many ways, but ‘From the Ashes’ is about how I’ve overcome those challenges since I had my daughter. It’s literally given me life.”

Nikita Morris’s movie, “Floating,” is all about movement and the feeling of freedom that can come from doing something you really love. She details the history of and community passion for the dance style known as breaking in Nova Scotia.

“I’ve been learning breaking for eight or nine months now,” Morris said. “Hip hop is my foundation. I was very immersed in the community and saw how welcoming they were. What can I do with this and highlight it?

“People will be able to relate to it without being a dancer. It’s about a specific feeling of being in a moment of letting go and everyone’s had that. Everyone’s experienced a moment where you feel really free.”

Essance MacKinnon used her film, “Essance &,” to explore her life and history as a Black woman.

“I’ve never been a part of this kind of thing before,” MacKinnon said. 

Morris said it’s “surreal” to have her film spotlighted in the upcoming festival.

“This is my first piece I’ve got to have creative control and see my vision come to life,” Morris said. “It’s kind of crazy and really cool. It definitely hasn’t sunk in,”

The Halifax Black Film Festival will run from Friday to Tuesday. The films of Wesley, Ramsey, Morris, and MacKinnon will screen at Cineplex Park Lane at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets cost $12.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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