A celebration of African-Canadian artists by Michael P. Farkas

The aim of FIFA is to examine artistic creations and to share favorites from the local and international cultural scene, but also to reveal its upheavals and its desire for introspection. The Festival has chosen to give voice to Michael P. FarkasChairman of the Black History Month Round Table and an emblematic figure of Montreal to highlight the inestimable cultural contributions of the African-Canadian community. This invitation to celebrate talented artists from diverse backgrounds follows the much appreciated participation of Mr. Farkas in a roundtable co-organized by FIFA and the McCord Museum last February. The discussion, structured around the theme of the expression of mixed identities, occurred as part of Black History Month and in conjunction with the screening of Black Indians directed by Jo Béranger, Hugues Poulain and Edith Patrouilleau, one of the flagship films of the 37th edition of FIFA.

Foreword by Michael P. Farkas

I have chosen these incredible artists because of how they harness their talent to overcome adversity. They are role models for me and for many others. Their achievements are enormous: writing, directing, and producing classic and symbolic plays, books, and songs that speak to the current mood; unearthing beautiful, powerful, and sad realities that educate their audiences and also assert our humanity in the face of all the negative things written about Black people. These incomparable artists, who are part of my heritage, touch me on an emotional level. The monumental work of these daring creators bridges the symptomatic, socioeconomic divide between the people that share this land. As they speak of recognition, reconciliation, and progress, I suggest we listen and read, appreciate their art, and learn to be part of it.

If we don’t know where we come from, we cannot know where we are going. The work of these creators is here to stay and will be absorbed by future generations. It is soul food, good food, real food, clean food. These creators persevere, doing what they do best, and the spirit does the rest. Through stories and songs that meld history and fiction, they retrace, recreate, and capture the past and present, highlighting deep truths that awaken our keenest curiosity. With our eyes and ears open, we can only be amazed at these artists’ prowess and audacity. I know it is a great service to all of us. Of course, this is just a glimpse of what I see and know of them and I invite you to stay informed on their future artistic productions. We can benefit from their historical, cultural, and social works of artistic performance and the reflections of ourselves that they offer. Lawrence, Djanet, Anthony, Webster, Josa, and Audrey are at the heart of creative, genuine, soulful, and artistic masterpieces.


Photo credit: Black History Month

About Michael P. Farkas 

Michael P. Farkas has been the Chairman of the Round Table on Black History Month since 2009 and Director of the Association des jeunes de la Petite Bourgogne – Youth in Motion since 2008. Musician, social educator and media figure, Michael P. Farkas is a prominent personality in cultural and community activities in Montreal. Passionate about black history, he has devoted his energy to valorizing the heritage of the African-Canadian community. Furthermore, his background in humanities and cultural animation has enabled him to work at the heart of various community organizations including CEDA (Center for Adult Education). He frequently organizes and participates in workshops dedicated to youth, helping to guide them in their projects and inspire them with new ideas.
His ultimate goal remains to provide a better world for present and future generations.