FHASS Launches Film For Thought Screening Series

By Peter Steven

Film for Thought, a new film series initiated by FHASS, got underway on February 17th with the screening of Selwyn Jacob’s The Road Taken.

The event was co-sponsored by the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton (CCAH) as part of an extensive program for Black History Month. As it turned out, several community members at the event had direct experience with the people and events seen in the film.

Image: Selwyn Jacob

Image: Selwyn Jacob

Post-screening small-group discussions, which mixed students, faculty, and community members, reflected the impact of this well-made film. Perhaps most rewarding, many viewers stated that the film had encouraged them to learn more about this moment in African-Canadian history.

The Road Taken, directed by Selwyn Jacob, for the National Film Board of Canada, tells the fascinating story of men who worked as Pullman Car Porters on Canada’s Railways. It also provides an important perspective on the African Canadian communities in Montreal, Truro, Nova Scotia, and Winnipeg that supported these workers. The film reminds us of a largely forgotten chapter in Canadian history and opens up rich topics for discussion and further research. For example, the Sleeping Car Porters became part of the first trade union in Canada by and for Black Workers.

Like the railway porters, Selwyn Jacob is something of a pioneer himself. Since moving to Canada from Trinidad in 1968, he has built a strong career as a filmmaker and has become a key figure in the development of Black filmmaking in Canada. Jacob creates a rich tapestry of people, places, and issues to explore; he gives his audience myriad facts, figures, and ways to think about the issues. But the film also provides us with access to the feelings, emotions, and analysis of the porters themselves. This is the strength of the film. For most people, viewing the film is a powerful experience.

The Film for Thought series is open to the public and will consist of film screenings twice a semester, rotating amongst Sheridan campuses. The goal is to show a range of entertaining, innovative, and provocative films that will bring together students, faculty, and community members in lively dialogue.

This first event was organized by Mike Baker, Sean McNabney, Peter Steven, and Maria Tchajkova. We welcome others to join us in shaping the series as it goes forward.

The next Film for Thought event will be held on Wednesday, April 15 at 7 pm and will be co-sponsored with the Halton Women’s Centre. More details coming soon.