By Fatima Husain
It’s the year 2049. Toronto has just survived a disastrous apocalypse.
Only one person can deliver the last of the survivors from the hands of ultimate evil: a young reluctant Caribbean-Canadian priestess who can conjure the powerful spirits of the Islands to save her people.
And this is how the Brown Girl Begins (literally).
The Sci-Fi fantasy film is written and directed by Toronto based director, Sharon Lewis and inspired by the award winning (prequel) novel: Brown Girl in the Ring by Caribbean-Canadian author Nalo Hopkinson.
The story is of a teenage Ti-Jeanne, a young priestess-to-be coming of age and her struggles of speaking out and fighting against her fears of the past. Surviving on a forsaken island on a ghetto off the coast of Toronto, the story unfolds as she discovers her strengths, relationships and a voice to speak and fight for the truth in the face of evil.
The film showcases enthralling performances by a strong cast such as Emmanuel Kabongo (TONY) – Toronto based actor best known for his CBC show 21 Thunder, Shakura S’Aida (who plays MAMI – an unwavering Caribbean grandmother), Measha Bruggergosman (MAMA ACHÉ) an award winning Canadian soprano, David Rudder – an award winning Trinidadian calypso artist and Nigel Shawn William (PAPA LEGBA) – a four-time Dora Mavor Moore Award winning actor and director.
Apart from the performances, the intense music works its magic on the audience. Featuring the work of Calgary duo Sergeant & Comrade, David Rudder, Measha Bruggergosman and Shakura S’Aida, to name a few.
The film has also been nominated by the Black Reel Awards in the ‘Outstanding World Cinema Motion Picture’ category.
Brown Girl Begins appears to be just the promising, unadulterated big screen recipe for the audience of today. A diverse cast, feministic leads, loads of (oddly convincing) superstition and a multicultural Toronto will have you glued to the screen.
The ending however, won’t leave you satisfied as the movie concludes with a lot of the protagonist’s desires left in a limbo – much like real life.
Overall, with a fresh story and an exceptionally diverse cast, Brown Girl Begins does its job – you will certainly walk away from the theatre with the spirits by your side!