Princess of the Row by award winning filmmaker Maximilian Carlson will open the eighth edition of the Toronto Black Film Festival – TBFF on Wednesday, February 12 – 7PM at Isabel Bader Theatre. In 2019, Princess of the Row won 19 awards at 20 film festivals: 4 Audience Choice, 5 Best Feature, 6 Best Actress (Tayler Buck), 3 Best Actor (Edi Gathegi) and 1 Best Cinematography (Maz Makhani). The festival will close with the documentary Restless directed by Bernard Attal.
“Over the years, the Toronto Black Film Festival has showcased the most powerful stories about black realities from around the globe. Mental illness is an important issue in today’s society. Opening #TBFF20 with such a poignant film as the award winning film Princess of the Row is a true privilege and a gift to our festivalgoers.” –Fabienne Colas, President and Founder of TBFF
Princess of the Row, starring Edi Gathegi, Tayler Buck, Ana Ortiz, Jacob Vargas and Martin Sheen, is an inspiring tale of a runaway foster child who will stop at nothing to live with the only family she knows: her father… a homeless mentally ill veteran who lives on the streets of LA’s skid row.
Bouncing around the sometimes-abusive foster care system, Alicia Willis, a creative 12-year-old girl, ditches school to visit her military veteran father Sgt. Beaumont “Bo” Willis. After a battle-induced brain injury during his service in Iraq, Bo is now homeless and living on LA’s skid row while suffering from severe PTSD. The injury renders him unable to recognize his own daughter most of the time but to Alicia it doesn’t matter, because she remembers him as the father he used to be: a caring man with a love of storytelling. After discovering her next foster home is ten hours away, Alicia sets out on a mission to save her family. With social services in hot pursuit, she and her father flee the city in search of a better life where they can be together in peace.
Maximilian Carlson is a Los Angeles-born American-Mexican independent film director/writer/editor. His work often explores issues of social-justice, like his documentary, Bhopali, which won the Grand Jury and Audience Awards at the 2011 Slamdance Film Festival and went on to win six additional awards. Bhopali is now used in various school curriculum as a learning tool on industrial disasters and the ramifications of unregulated globalization. His 2013 short, “The Troll”, a fantasy-love story, won two best short film awards. Past wins include, “Most Promising Director Award” at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival and the “Best Director Award” at the Toronto International Teen Movie Festival for a short film he completed while in high school. His documentary, Ninth November Night, was considered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to be “one of the outstanding documentaries of 2004”.
Restless is a Brazilian documentary that looks at the historical and social roots of police brutality. In 2014,Geovane, a young man from a poor neighborhood in Brazil, was arrested by the military police and never seen again. Assisted by the local newspaper, his dad conducted an investigation that led to the indictment of several policemen. The Brazilian police is the most violent in the world with more than five thousand homicides every year. The victims are mostly young black men from the suburbs of the large cities. The cases are rarely investigated, and relatives are left to live in ignorance about the fate of their child after an encounter with the military police. But Geovane’s father would not rest until he found the whereabouts of his son. The documentary weaves the investigation of the case with a debate about the historical and social roots of police brutality.